In a thought-provoking presentation at the SEOGS 2023 panel discussion, Jan van Charante, a prominent figure in Suriname’s tourism sector, and representative from the Tourism Sector in the VSB, shed light on the intricate relationship between sustainable tourism, carbon credits, and the imperative to protect our planet. Addressing esteemed colleagues, distinguished guests, and advocates, Charante’s speech resonated with a call to action, urging Suriname to harness its potential as a sustainable tourism destination.
The Four Pillars of Suriname’s Tourism
Van Charante emphasized that Suriname’s tourism rests upon four foundational pillars: culture, nature, heritage, and events. The picturesque imagery of synagogues, mosques, and natural wonders like the Amazon rainforest speaks to the diverse tapestry that the nation offers. However, Charante swiftly pointed out a vital but often overlooked pillar—governance.
Drawing attention to the delicate balance between progress and sustainability, Charante introduced the concept of industrial hemp cultivation. Noting its crucial distinction from marijuana, he underscored the significance of proper legislation and control. He further highlighted the analogous carbon credit potential of well-managed grasslands, a resource Suriname boasts in abundance. The subtext was clear: responsible governance can lay the foundation for environmentally friendly economic growth.
Carbon Credits and Environmental Stewardship
Charante’s discourse shifted towards carbon credits, articulating the remarkable role of Suriname’s natural resources in mitigating carbon dioxide. Illustrating the concept of photosynthesis, he eloquently explained how trees act as nature’s carbon scrubbers, converting carbon dioxide into oxygen and sugars. This not only presented a compelling argument for environmental stewardship but also emphasized the connection between the nation’s rich biodiversity and the global fight against climate change.
The striking reality emerged—Suriname’s geographical expanse and lush landscapes could potentially contribute much more to the Amazon’s preservation. Comparing Suriname’s two percent contribution to the Amazon forest with similar-sized countries like Bhutan and Panama, Charante invoked the idea of fostering cooperation. He highlighted the significance of existing organizations like ACTO (Amazon Cooperation Treaty Organization) in consolidating efforts to protect and restore our shared planet.
A Unified Call to Action
The heart of van Charante’s message resonated with unity. Drawing from the wisdom of the panel and attendees alike, he echoed the sentiment of collective responsibility for Earth’s wellbeing. He underscored that Suriname’s efforts extended beyond tourism—it was a multi-faceted endeavor encompassing health, trade, and mutual understanding. His words echoed an age-old truth: the Earth is our only home, and its protection is an obligation we all share.
A Bright Future Ahead
Van Charante’s presentation at SEOGS 2023 transcended the realm of tourism. It illuminated a path forward, one where Suriname’s natural treasures and responsible governance could redefine sustainable tourism and environmental conservation. As Suriname navigates the complex intersection of economic progress and ecological harmony, van Charante’s words serve as a guiding light—a reminder that we must protect the Earth not just for ourselves but for generations to come. In a world in desperate need of sustainable solutions, Suriname has the chance to lead the way. The question remains: will we heed the call?

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