Sandals Resorts’ Group Chief Executive Officer, Gebhard Rainer, recently proposed more regional partnerships between governments and the private sector as the key to increasing growth, optimising investment and capital expenditure in the Caribbean.
Rainer’s comments come as he prepares for the 15th Caribbean Renewable Energy Forum in Miami, Florida from April 26-28, where he will be a panellist.
“Sandals recognises the impact of climate change on our local economies and as a business leader in the Caribbean, we have incorporated environmental, social, and governance (ESG) programmes throughout our company, playing our part through initiatives such as smart infrastructure and sustainable processes”.
Rainer’s comments come on the heels of his earlier participation at the 2nd Caribbean ESG (Environmental, Social, and Governance) & Climate Financing Summit held recently in Port of Spain, Trinidad & Tobago.
“This is not an inexpensive undertaking and we have invested millions of dollars in infrastructure to ensure that our carbon footprint is as low as possible. From solar water heaters to the treatment plants at each location that ensure water can be treated and recycled for irrigation; to removing all plastic straws from our resorts and we are currently on a path to eliminate single-use plastics”.
“Even now as we seek to integrate more renewable energy programmes across our resorts, if there is not a robust legislative infrastructure, particularly for subsidies in place, the energy problem will invariably evolve into an energy crisis,” said Mr. Rainer. “We must coordinate our efforts into a regional policy that focuses on both advocacy and legislation as we prepare for further effects of this global phenomenon.”
At the upcoming conference in Miami, Rainer will be among a panel of Caribbean CEOs discussing the effects of distributed electricity generation technologies, ESG implementation, regulatory and legal interventions, as well as productivity and competitive advantages.
“Sandals is a company focused on a green future at all times and we are ensuring that sustainable environmental practices are reflected in all our new projects as we go forward,” said Rainer.
“But like most companies we do not exist in a vacuum. Many of the islands we operate in for example, do not have the legislation or the infrastructure to support wide–scale recycling and conservation efforts.”
On the flip side, Rainer also advocated for greater education on the issues of prevention as well as avenues that currently exist.
The resort chain CEO highlighted the work of its philanthropic arm the Sandals Foundation, as a key advocate for waste recycling in the region, extending is efforts to educational campaigns. “Over 95% of our team members are from the communities in which we operate and they in turn transfer such knowledge into actions in their own communities,” Rainer added.
Highlighting one of the Sandals Foundation’s recent programmes, Rainer said, “In Curacao through a local partnership, discarded fishing nets are being recycled to make football goals for local schools. These are some of the simple yet effective ways we are looking to engage communities in safeguarding our future,” said Rainer.
The Sandals Resorts CEO will be joined in the panel discussion by, among others; Anthony Ali, CEO, Goddard Enterprises Limited and Ralph S. Williams, CEO, Williams Industries Inc. The panel discussion will be moderated by Anaitee Mills, Chair of the Jamaica Energy Resilience Alliance and Climate Finance Advisor in the Office of the Prime Minister in Jamaica.
Sandals Resorts International has been a regional voice on climate change preparedness and continues to be recognized by the world’s leading certification, consulting and advisory group for sustainable destinations and tourism organizations, EarthCheck.