WHO ARE WE AS SAINT LUCIANS?
In defining a development agenda for Saint Lucia, it is important that we understand who we are. What are our ideals? What values do we hold dear? How do we interact with each other? To what do we aspire? What role do we wish to play in the community of nations?
OUR UNIQUE HERITAGE
Saint Lucia is a country with a unique heritage. We have a proud history of community participation and self-help, which is exemplified in our practice of koudmen (the coming and working together of a community to achieve a task on behalf of one of the members or the entire community, with the participants volunteering their services and their time to the collective effort). Also, our country was constructed on a foundation that was built through the hard work of citizens in our rural communities, with the strong reliance during our pre-Independence and early post-Independence years on agriculture and fishing to drive economic development.
Additionally, as is customary with many island nations, we have a strong largely undocumented database of local and traditional knowledge on a wide variety of subjects from agriculture, to building construction to health and wellness. This is the ingrained genetic code of our country; it is part of our national DNA. These very important characteristics must factor into any vision and development agenda that we articulate for ourselves. They are tremendous assets to our country, They cannot and should not be sacrificed or discarded in the pursuit of 'modern' economic growth and development.
OUR HOSPITABLE AND AMBITIOUS PEOPLE
Saint Lucia is known for the warmth and hospitality of its people. Our country has also become synonymous with academic excellence, regionally and internationally. We are the country that gave to the world the Nobel Laureates Sir Arthur Lewis (Economics) and Sir Derek Walcott (Literature). Several other Saint Lucians have made invaluable contributions in almost every sphere of endeavour regionally and internationally. Our people have also always valued the importance of self-development.
As technology shrinks our planet and expands our boundaries of social interaction and economic competition, it is important that we leverage the fortunate confluence of our innate friendliness and our natural impulse for self-improvement and development to develop a 21st century citizenry that is ambitious, agile, adept, adaptable and awesome.
OUR BEAUTIFUL ISLAND
Our country is known as the Helen of the West Indies. It gets this name after Helen of Troy (Helen of Sparta), who was acknowledged to be the most beautiful woman in the world. Saint Lucia's unique charm and allure derive from the breath-taking aesthetics of its natural landscape. This is another important component of our country's DNA. The beauty and richness of our natural environment has provided the fertile substrate on which all our economic and social sectors have fed. Therefore, in articulating our development agenda, we should never compromise our natural environment.
We must never lose sight of the fact that together with the strength, resilience and togetherness of our people, and their innate warmth and impulse for self-improvement, the beauty and integrity of our natural environment and our interaction with nature help to define who we are as Saint Lucians. They speak to who we are as a Small Island Developing State that is striving, through a sustainable development model, to carve a respected and admired name and image for itself in a highly connected and competitive global village .
This is who we are and this is what we must build on in developing a better Saint Lucia for everyone.