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Open letter to Policy Makers of Georgia

Wednesday, July 28
A couple of days ago I was enjoying a coffee at a Propsero’s Books in Tbilisi and I picked up a copy of the of the American Chambers of Commerce’s With great incredulity I was stunned to read the following: “Traditionally, automobile exhaust is considered hazardous for the environment and human health. But there is a scientific dispute over the role that petroleum combustion products play in causing pollution and other problems” . Fascinating to see that Americans still repeat the 20 years old trick of the tobacco company to discredit evidence that something is harmful. So let’s correct this: the overwhelming great majority of the scientific community is absolutely certain that automobile exhaust is harmful – period. The doubtful “dispute” proclaimed by the American Chamber of Commerce is only there to promote financial interest at the expense of human health. Would anyone of them dare to stay in a closed room with a running car?

I am by far not a green activist. But my three weeks of travels in Georgia made me realize that there are countries in the emerging markets zones which could very well develop themselves directly into a sustainable and organic economy. I have seldom seen countries with such a vibrant traditional agriculture. Georgia has one of the best vegetables I’ve ever tasted in my life. My week of trekking in Svaneti showed me untouched European nature. I have drank water directly from earth sources in most of the non urban regions I visited without any water purification. Where else is this possible in Europe today?

The European Commission just announced a green label for agriculture which will control the quality of organic food entering the “alternative” markets. Isn’t that a golden opportunity for Georgia to market its land, its agriculture, its people and its culture as one of the most environmentally friendly and advanced... in the world? European mass-tourism will doubtfully become a target group for Georgia (simply because of distance) but the green and sustainable tourism is already waiting to discover their European Eldorado. Wineries in Italy and France are turning back to organic methods. Same goes to dairy in the Netherlands. Georgia, as I understood, is already there simply because it “skipped” the chemical-fertilizer revolution because of socio-economic reasons. Georgia’s sad isolation during the Soviet times has the silver lining of brining and entire country into the European Economy with a sustainable agriculture and a pristine mountain range.

Where most of Europe is now busy with changing agricultural practices, cleaning up their backyards and trying to convince peasants to go for green (for money), Georgia has it in reverse: it is ready to sell but needs to market itself and let the world known of its organic wealth.

I feel lucky of having the chance of travelling around Georgia for 3 weeks. It’s was not long enough; I will gladly come back for more. The very single bite I took in this cucumber-tomato-nuts salad I had on my first day convinced me I was somewhere special. And I strongly beleive there are millions of Europeans craving for Georgia’s food and amazing nature. In a way, my visit to Georgia made me greener “by experience”. Isn’t it crazy that the American Chamber of Commerce lobbying in your country for less control on petrol? I mean who wants that nowadays? Really?

Lloyd Keays