The tiny Caribbean island of Bonaire claims to be the very first 100% sustainable island in the world. Located in the Netherlands Antilles, its waters have been protected since 1979 – making it one of the most pristine snorkeling and scuba diving spots that can be found.
In order to capitalize on the up-and-coming ecotourism business, Bonaire agreed to the installation of a 11MW wind farm, 14MW biodiesel plant and a 3.5MW backup battery in 2007 with the end goal of completely unyoking itself from fossil fuel dependence. Spearheading this project are Ecopower Bonaire BV, a consortium of Dutch-German companies, Evelop, Enercon, and the local Bonaire water and energy company.
Additional plans for the 111 square foot island include the creation of “green” housing and government sponsored ecoresorts. Like neighboring Aruba, Bonaire’s economy is heavily dependent on tourism. Yet unlike other Caribbean destinations, there is not a fast food restaurant, cruise ship, golf course, or high rise hotel to be found in this unspoiled paradise.
Ecotourism is a great way to introduce children to green ideals while escaping to a slower pace of life for recovery and rest. Yet many in the green community chide ecotravelers – and maintain the belief that the only true ecotourism is staying home and consuming NO energy.
The only way for universal cultural acceptance and understanding to occur is through actual experience, and this doesn’t happen without travel. We have to accept that vacations are not going to be taken at home by most – and that ecotourism is a more than reasonable alternative to the heavy carbon consumption pilgramages of the past.
Officials of Bonaire estimate that it will require 3 years for the completion of their ambitious projects.