Armed with a new board that includes top brass from the corporate world and academia, Island Green Living Association (IGLA) has conceived a comprehensive strategic plan that combats the significant environmental issues endangering the U.S. Virgin Islands. Key among the tactics are education and engagement initiatives, which include a hands-on Island Green Living/Sustainability curriculum in partnership with the V.I. Department of Education. Fundamental to IGLA’s mission are the four R’s: Rethink, Reduce, Reuse, Recycle.
“The U.S.V.I. faces major environmental challenges including the impending closure of overflowing landfills in 2020, toxic storm water run-off, high energy costs and lack of viable recycling options,” said Harith Wickrema, the new president of IGLA. “The way we live plays a major role in the devastation, but most people don’t understand their impact. It is our belief that with awareness, education and community engagement along with the support of government, we can fight this battle together. Preservation of the territory is vital to our health and wellbeing as well as to tourism, the lifeblood of our economy.”
In addition to assuming the role of vice chairman of the VI Waste Management Authority (VIWMA), Wickrema was elected the new president of IGLA in January. He has been dedicated to preservation and green issues his entire career, most notably developing the sustainable event management curriculum at Temple University School of Tourism and Hospitality Management. He is a trailblazer in the event management industry, championing recognition of sustainability and green events while president of Harith Productions Ltd., a 25+ year global corporate communication and event production company.
While traveling for business, he fell in love with St. John and conceived Eco Serendib Villa and Spa, an eco-luxury retreat on St. John where he now makes his home. For each night that the villa is rented, a donation is made to Friends of VI National Park and IGLA for restoration and recycling efforts on St. John.
Other board officers include:
Doug White, vice president — White is a licensed architect in the Virgin Islands since 1982 as well as a co-founder and past president of IGLA.
Rob Crane, treasurer — Crane is a licensed architect in Washington D.C., Massachusetts and the Virgin Islands, and he is past president of IGLA.
Akhil Deshwal, secretary — Deshwal is managing director at Gallows Point Resort and president of Ocean 362, the restaurant at Gallows Point.
Dr. Laurie Bottiger, head of school, Gifft Hills School, St. John
Jim Dobrowolski, founder and CEO of U.S. Facilities Inc., owner of Dr. Cool, a leading mechanical services provider in the U.S.V.I.
Dr. David Hall, president, University of Virgin Islands
Christie O’Neil, broker, Holiday Homes of St. John Inc.
Dr. Gary Ray, restoration ecologist and co-founding member of IGLA
Susan Parten, licensed civil engineer and owner/manager of Community Environmental Services Inc.
Randy Thurman, past CEO of major global corporations including VIASYS & Corning Life Sciences, Rhone Poulenc Rorer, etc.
Karen Vahling, director of development, Friends of Virgin Islands National Park
Further details on IGLA’s plans are forthcoming.
**IGLA’s Green Movie Series offers free family-friendly movie nights when films on green issues are featured, and there is a pot luck dinner. They movie nights are open to the public and will take place at 6 p.m. in the Great Room of Lower Gifft Hill School Campus on the following evenings:
March 17: “Cowspiracy”
April 14: “Racing Extinction”
May 12: “Forks Over Knives”