This strategy document sidelines serious issues

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From Nick Palmer.

THE Strategic Plan green paper has recently been published. The first paragraph states: ‘This Strategic Plan sets the long-term direction for the Island, taking as a start-point the current position in terms of issues to be addressed and challenges to prepare for. The focus of this plan is deliberately on long-term policy direction, including aims and priorities, which are firmly set within the constraints that exist, both now and in the future.’

Excitingly, this suggests that we now have far-sighted leaders who appreciate the value of long-term strategic planning beyond the short-term expediency of a political term of office. It looks as if the States are aware of the long-term dramatic changes that are threatening the world and seems as if they are preparing long-term plans for Jersey to navigate the rocky waters ahead. Or not.

While browsing the local blog ‘A view from the west’, I noticed that Mark Forskitt had performed a word search on this green paper to ascertain exactly how much weight had been assigned to various issues in the document. In short, have they got their priorities right? I have adapted Mr Forskitt’s word count below.

Correlating the words with the actual sentences they are found in suggests that the document turns a wilful blind eye to, or extreme discounting of, the international issues that should be guiding future policy.

The four horsemen of peak oil, climate change, the end of the global growth economy (not just the relatively minor current financial crisis) and future food security are not going to go away while the hubris of the Council of Ministers allows them to virtually air-brush them out of the picture.

lWord search occurrence in draft Strategic Plan:

Economy occurs 41 times; sustainable, 32 (not the right ‘sustainable’); financial, 20; growth, 14; climate, two (one was ‘fiscal climate’); greenhouse, one (one sentence); global warming, nil; peak oil, nil; CO2, nil; carbon, nil.

While 32 ‘sustainables’ may look promising, sadly these do not refer to sustainability as it should be understood but rather to Senator Terry Le Sueur’s inadequate and irresponsible definition (JEP 25 February, page 6) when he was put on the spot by Deputy Vallois), which is an extremely simplistic ‘how do we sustain business-as-usual’ concept. Sustainable energy sources get a couple of mentions but there is no clear link with climate change initiatives.

The singe reference to planetary climate, ‘Our climate will change and we will need to respond to this in many areas of life’, appears to mimic the familiar global warming denier propaganda that somehow there is nothing we can do about it and that it is better to just adapt to the inevitable.

Many significant figures believe we have fewer than 100 months left to take decisive action on greenhouse emissions to head off the worst consequences. That should be well within the projected lifetime of this strategic document. This should be a top priority. One sentence committing us to 1990 levels of emissions is simply beyond belief.

This document barely meets the basic requirements of a plan in so far as it has no easily measurable outcomes or deliverables or timescales. More worryingly, it ignores or sidelines very much more serious issues than it actually addresses.

Should it become our strategic plan, this document will do about as much for our future and that of our children as that piece of paper Chamberlain waved in 1938 when he declared ‘Peace for our time’. It may just be that the consequences of the States’ inadequate views will be just as ruinous as that false promise was.


Rue des Hamonnets,

St Lawrence.

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