In the year 2000 the United Nations embarked on an aggressive project to improve the living standards for humankind. This project, The United Nations Millenium Goals, were tasked with substantially reducing and sustainably improving the human condition in the following areas:
- Environmental Degradation
- Discrimination Against Women
At the Millenium Summit in 2000 The Millennium Development Goals were refined into eight development goals to be achieved by the year 2015:
- Eradicating extreme poverty and hunger
- Achieving universal primary education
- Promoting gender equality and empowering women
- Reducing child mortality rates
- Improving maternal health
- Combating HIV/AIDS, malaria, and other diseases,
- Ensuring environmental sustainability
- Developing a global partnership for development
The deadline for implementation is 2015 and the United Nations has made substantial progress in achieving many of these goals.
Bridge the Gap Village in Vorovoro, Fiji has goals that tie in perfectly with many of the United Nations Millennium Goals. As an ecotourism and sustainable development tourist destination, not only can guests explore and relax in the natural beauty of an untouched Fijian island, they can experience Fijian culture in a way not available anywhere else on earth.
As a guest on Vorovoro, Fiji you will experience an island that is ecologically responsible. Rainwater harvesting is the only water source. There is zero waste stream. Compost toilets recycle all biodegradable waste. Permaculture methods are used to help feed island guests. All power on the island is renewable. All building materials are locally sourced and most are from renewable natural resources.
Supporting the Local Economy
The goal of Bridge the Gap Villages in Vorovoro, Fiji is to return over ninety percent of revenues to the local Fijian economy. Local staff is employed at a living wage. Most services are sourced from local service companies. Most importantly Bridge the Gap Villages Vorovoro, Fiji has a goal of achieving ninety percent Fijian ownership by the local tribe, the Matingali, within ten years. Not only are the local tribes benefitting from the tourist dollars spent on the island, they are becoming business owners while learning how to start their own companies.
Unique Business-Mentoring Program
The most unique element of the Bridge the Gap Villages in Vorovoro, Fiji project is a business-mentoring program. The intention of this unique program is to find promising Fijians who are capable of running their own business. These Fijians will develop a business plan, be assigned a mentor, and be assisted closely for the first three to five years of their business start-up.
Guests on Vorovoro, Fiji will be shown respect for the Fijian culture they are visiting. Fiji’s culture is a rich mixture of indigenous Fijian, Indo-Fijian, Asian and European traditions. The indigenous community culture is preserved, as island guests will live in native Fijian bures, bamboo and grass huts. The island cuisine of root crops, vegetables, fruit and fish are prepared in a traditional wood fired oven. Fiji’s modern culture is rich with formalities and intricacies that show respect for communal groups. Island visitors will have an opportunity to participate in a nightly Kava ceremony.
Island guest become a part of the daily island activities as well as the local community. Guests are invited to create activities that will educate them and subsequent visitors about the island, the environment, the community, the traditions and the culture. Everyone is asked to help enrich the community with their unique talents thus helping the community thrive long after the visitors leave.
Fitting into the United Nation’s Millennium Goals
The United Nations Millennium Goals is one of the most successful projects in the history of the United Nations. The goal of reducing poverty by half has been reached five years ahead of the 2015 deadline. Primary school enrollment of girls equaled boys. Progress in reducing child and maternal mortality is accelerating. The target of halving the proportion of people without access to improved sources of water has been reached.
Despite these successes, there is still much to be done. The 2012 United Nations Millennium Development Goals Report states, “Inequality is detracting from these gains, and slowing advances in other key areas. In the years ahead, we have the opportunity to achieve more and to shape the agenda for our future.” A new agenda is taking shape.
Economic, Environmental and Social Development
Bridge the Gap Villages, with Vorovoro, Fiji, is a part of this agenda. Fiji has an abundance of natural resources and is one of the most developed economies in the Pacific Island region. The main sources of foreign exchange are tourism and sugar exports. Fiji is a developing nation with an exceptionally high literacy rate and education for boys and girls are at parity. However, according to the World Bank, the average Fijian lives on $12 USD per day. Fiji has a low-level of employment, and is very dependent on foreign aid. Improvements are needed in child mortality and maternal health.
Bridge the Gap Villages in Fiji will address the many of these issues in Labasa on the northern island of Vanua Levu, formerly known as Sandalwood Island. Labasa is primarily an agricultural area dependent upon sugar cane. Sugar cane farming and production has been decreasing due to the loss of overseas markets and political changes. Labasa is off the traditional tourist track but has enough local amenities to support the start-up of an ecotourism center. Tourism is becoming a major industry on Vanau Levu.
Bridge the Gap Villages will be working to improve the economic stability in the region through ecotourism. Additionally, Bridge the Gap Villages will improve the economic outlook for women through the unique mentoring program. By empowering women, Bridge the Gap Villages will reduce the child mortality rate and improve maternal health.
Creating Global Partnerships
Finally, Bridge the Gap Villages will be part of the process of creating global partnerships for economic development in other counties. Fiji is one of the United Nations Small Island Developing States. The importance of Small Island Developing States is the recognition that Fiji, along with fifty-one other small islands states, shares unique vulnerabilities in economic, environmental and social development. The lessons learned by Bridge the Gap Villages in the development of ecotourism on Vorovoro, Fiji will be applied in the development of additional ecotourism sites throughout the world.
Travelers and guests of Bridge the Gap Villages can be certain that their visit to Vorovoro, Fiji will contribute to the preservation and development of the native environment, the local people, and be a participant in one of the most exciting social movements in the world.