Norwegian Ambassador to the Caribbean, Beate Stirø visited Richmond Vale Academy and a Vincentian backyard gardener in Chateaubelair on Saturday — Earth Day.
She praised RVA, which includes several of her compatriots, for their contribution to sustainable development in St. Vincent and the Grenadines (SVG).
“This has been a very interesting visit and it is very exciting to see what the RVA team has accomplished,” said Stirø, who was in SVG in her official capacity.
“I was able to see up-close what the damage caused by the eruption at La Soufriere has meant for the academy and this just makes me even more impressed with the efforts and courage that the RVA team has shown,” she said.
She appreciated that the progress made so far suggests that the academy will meet its goal of having all of its activities back up and running soon.
Over the last decade, RVA has focused heavily on helping SVG as well as its international students to respond, in their local communities, to the climate crisis.
One of its major programmes has been the home garden project under which it has established or rehabilitated hundreds of ecological backyard gardens across the country.
Ecological gardening combines various plant species that work together to replenish the soil as well as work as natural pest control.
“It has been very exciting to learn how you combine the different species, like using different plants that enhance the nutrition in the soil and how this can reduce the use of artificial fertilisers, protect the water sources, etc.,” the diplomat said.
“The systems established here at the academy, in terms of recycling of water and biogas production, have opened my eyes about how much it is possible to achieve. The challenge is probably how to take it to a bigger scale. However, it is interesting and important to meet the challenges that we face and to learn about the possible alternative solutions,” Stirø said.
“I am thrilled to know that there is a Norwegian lady as part of the team creating this academy,” the diplomat said, referring to Stina Herberg, who is has lived in St. Vincent and the Grenadines since 2006.
Meanwhile, Herberg thanked the ambassador for her visit, saying, “We are also proud that you chose to visit us.”
Richmond Vale Academy was established in 2002 and is a registered non-profit research and training institution in Richmond.
Since its opening, students from SVG and around the world have participated in courses centered on poverty reduction, environmental conservation and climate change awareness.
The academy’s programmes offer students the opportunity to directly influence positive change on the environment and in communities.