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Maurice Ile Durable: A Step Towards Sustainable Development

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1.0 Sustainable development

The concept of sustainable development gained widespread recognition following the publication in 1987 of the Brundtland Report entitled 'Our Common Future'. It is the report of the World Commission on Environment and Development, chaired by Mrs. Gro Harlem Brundtland. As the report puts it 'Humanity has the ability to make development sustainable - to ensure that it meets the needs of the present without compromising the ability of future generations to meet their own needs.'

Sustainable development implies the handing down to successive generations not only the man-made wealth but also of natural wealth (like soil, water, plants and animals) in sufficient amounts to allow a continuing improvement in the quality of life.

Besides, sustainable development was the main theme of a major United Nations conference held in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil in 1992. The Earth Summit, as it was termed in the media, examined the state of the environment. The delegates identified strategies for action to deal with environmental issues in the development of all countries.

Prince Charles has said, 'We thought the world belonged to us. Now we are beginning to realize we belong to the world. We are responsible to it and to each other.'

However, translating sustainable development into practice, requires a thorough understanding of the complex relationship between people, resources, the environment and development- a challenge for 'Maurice Ile Durable'.

2.0 Maurice Ile Durable project, what is it?

Maurice Ile Durable is a concept which has been brought to the limelight very recently and the term 'Maurice Ile Durable" was first coined by Prof Joel de Rosnay, Special Adviser of the Prime Minister, who also serves as adviser at the Cite des Sciences et de L'industrie of La Villette, Paris. The project was launched on the 9th July 2008 by the Honorable Dr. Abu Kasenally at Rajiv Gandhi Science Centre, Bell Village. By launching the Maurice Ile Durable project, Mauritius has embarked on a journey towards sustainable development. The project has a long haul objective and cuts across so many sectors including the tourism sector. However, sustainability not only involves environmental protection but is also a means to improve our economic growth and protection of socio cultural fibre. Tourism being one of the drivers of the economy it is logically expected that the Ministry of Tourism should be involved in the initiatives concerning the project. The project had a budget of about 47 millions dollars for the period July 2008 to June 2009.

3.0 Main objectives of Maurice Ile Durable:

The principal aim of the project is to make Mauritius almost independent on non-renewable sources of energy i.e. fossil fuels. Thus, a target of 65% autonomy has been set and it is expected that by the year 2028 this aim will successfully be achieved. Moreover, the project aims at a maximized utilization of green energy or renewable sources of energy and to make a more efficient use of energy in general. Prof Joel de Rosnay has proposed to make use of biomass, bio-ethanol, biogas, 35% solar energy, 15% wind energy, 6% hydro, 3% cogeneration and 3% energy from waves to achieve the set target. The project also includes the setting up of an Eco-Park and the organization of a world ecological forum.

4.0 Projects in light with Maurice Ile Durable:

* Solar water heater project:

Citizens are being encouraged to use solar energy for domestic purposes. Thus, a grant of Rs 10,000 is being provided for the purchase of solar water heaters by domestic users together with a soft loan of Rs 150,000 provided by the Development Bank of Mauritius.

* Compact fluorescent lamps:

To be compatible with the Maurice Ile Durable concept, there should be efficient use of energy. Hence, normal lamps are being substituted nowadays by compact fluorescent lamps. These are being sold to customers at a subsidized rate of Rs 40 for three lamps. The use of compact fluorescent lamps is expected to reduce energy consumption and alleviate expenditure of households on electricity

* Street lighting:

15,468 street lightings in both rural and urban areas using conventional lights - incandescent bulbs or halogen bulbs, will be replaced by LED signal lights at the cost of Rs 17 millions. This will be implemented by the Ministry of Local Government and it would lead to an annual savings of Rs. 4.5 million. LED lights have the advantage of low maintenance, longer design life, better visibility and high light intensity.

* Lighting in schools/hospitals and public buildings:

A project has been proposed to replace all conventional lightings in public buildings, schools and hospitals by economic compact fluorescent lighting systems in order to ensure energy savings and efficiency.

* Solar water heating in hospitals:

Solar water heaters are being installed in public hospitals.

* Replacement of traffic lights:

Traffic lights have recently been replaced by LED signal lights. These have the advantage of low maintenance, longer design life, better visibility and high light intensity.

* Other projects:

 A wind turbine will be installed at Grenade in Rodrigues.

 A wind farm project is being implemented at Bigara

 Two hydro power projects are being implemented by the Central Electricity Board at La Nicoliere and Midlands Dam.

 UNDP consultants have been working on the grid code since January 2009 with a view to enable small power producers to integrate the power generation system. An Energy Policy has been formulated and the investment in renewable energy projects is being encouraged. Initiatives from industry, business and tourism sectors to use renewable energy sources and ensure energy efficiency are equally being promoted.

5.0 Project Stakeholders

The stakeholders to the Maurice Ile Durable (MID) Project include:

a. The Government (Prime Minister's Officer



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