Three questions

‘Sustainability is a lesson of our history’

Grenada is promoting sustainable tourism, in line with SDG 12. Dessima Williams has already made a number of changes at her hotel, and she still has big plans.

Interview: Ulrike Scheffer Illustration: Julian Rentzsch

Why is sustainability an important issue for Grenada?

We are a small island nation in the Caribbean and we need to conserve our natural resources. In the past, this went without saying – partly because of how slavery shaped our history. Slavery means inequality and destruction, not least environmental destruction, too. To survive during such times, people grew their own food, using simple tools and in harmony with nature. Sustainability is therefore a lesson of our history. In recent decades, however, lifestyles have changed. While people used to collect rainwater in cisterns, many no longer do so because water mains have been installed. This frequently results in water shortages. We are now rediscovering old techniques and practices and implementing sustainability strategies with support from partners like GIZ.

What specific changes have you made at your hotel, the Rainbow Inn?

We have equipped all bathrooms with water-saving toilets, so that each flush uses less water. We have also installed water-saving taps and shower heads. In addition, we have returned to collecting rainwater, which we use as non-potable water. This has allowed us to reduce the water we consume by around 25 per cent in total, which also cuts our costs. We compost our garden rubbish and have started to separate our waste. I have also launched a small plastic recycling project.

What else can a country like Grenada do to become more sustainable?

Sustainability needs to be taught in schools. In practical terms, what we are already doing on a small scale at our hotel should also be implemented in administration buildings, schools, hospitals and private households. However, that requires investment, which is hard for a small country like Grenada to finance. But it is not just money that we are lacking; we also need helping hands. I am therefore aiming to set up a volunteer project. We are looking for 30 to 40 people who can pay for their own travel and are interested in combining a holiday here in Grenada with working on a sustainability project. 

Dr Williams and staff of Rainbow Inn

Dessima Williams runs the Rainbow Inn in St Andrew, Grenada. She is also a diplomat and politician. In 2009, she represented the Alliance of Small Island States at COP15 in Copenhagen. She was her country’s permanent representative to the United Nations from 2009 to 2013. She has served as President of the Senate of Grenada since 2022

Less is more

The Climate Resilience of the Water Sector in Grenada (G-CREWS) project supports the country’s tourism industry and other sectors in using water more efficiently. It is financed by the Green Climate Fund, the German Federal Ministry for the Environment, Nature Conservation, Nuclear Safety and Consumer Protection (BMUV) and the Government of Grenada. The Challenge Fund for Tourism provides funding for rainwater catchment systems, wastewater recycling systems and the installation of water-saving sanitary fittings. The Rainbow Inn is one of the first hotels to have implemented these measures. At the end of 2021, it was named Water Efficiency Champion by the Government of Grenada.