In a conversation with Daniel Ackers, we spoke about his tenure as a Senior Programme Manager on the Waste to Energy Facility (WtE) programme in Barbados, an unforgettable encounter with Bajan dolphin cuisine, and a serendipitous moment in China that launched his career in international development.
‘I took three months hiatus from my first graduate job and went travelling around India, China and Sri Lanka trying to figure out what it was that I wanted to do with my career.’ Dan says. Amidst the unexpected twists of fate, while Dan was exploring China, he crossed paths with a family friend who worked in international development and ended up doing some database research on trade in China.’ I was strapped for cash and ended up producing a few reports and carrying out some desk-based research for his company on the EU-China trade program, and honestly when I got back to the UK, I was determined to do everything to break into this sector.’
After engaging in numerous coffee meetings with business development managers and recruitment consultants from various development organisations, Dan eventually secured a position at CARDNO. However, his talents did not go unnoticed, as three years later, he was lured away by Crown Agents, where he assumed the role of a Bid Manager within our Commercial Development Office. Reflecting on his early months, Dan vividly recalls the challenges of navigating remote team management during the lockdown period.
“We tirelessly worked on the Military Education Development Programme for Iraq (MEDP), right up until Christmas Eve, the bid submission deadline. I distinctly remember feeling an immense sense of pride as we successfully delivered a collaborative proposal, despite never meeting my team members in person,” he shares with enthusiasm.
The fruits of their labour materialised when the team was awarded the bid in March of the subsequent year, marking Dan’s first triumphant proposal win at Crown Agents—an accomplishment that left him elated. Building upon this achievement, Dan’s portfolio burgeoned with a series of prosperous bids, including notable projects with GAVI and UNICEF. It was during this time that he decided to apply for the role of Programme Manager for the Barbados Waste to Energy (WtE) Facility Program.
“Having built up ample experience in overseeing large-scale infrastructure projects, with funding reaching £24 million and management fees of £4.5 million, I was confident in my ability to execute the WtE to a high standard,” he asserts.
When the tourism sector represents 17.5% of your GDP, with total contribution from tourism standing at 31-33%, Small Island Developing Countries like Barbados face several challenges pertaining to the unsustainable traits of tourism like waste management from cruises, tourists, and restaurants. In the Caribbean Small Island Developing States (CSIDS), islands face several barriers and challenges that prevent sustained economic growth and prosperity in the region. Two such challenges that exist are improper solid waste management and unstable energy supply.
Addressing the pressing concerns at hand, the Waste to Energy Facility Programme takes proactive measures to alleviate these issues by forging a collaborative partnership between Crown Agents and Barbados Port inc (BIP). An integral component of this project is actively exploring avenues to enhance the port administrations eco-friendliness. One significant aspect of this is the procurement and installation of an additional 1.5 Megawatts of rooftop photovoltaic solar capacity, aimed at energising the port’s berths while minimising its carbon footprint.
“At the core of our endeavour lies a fundamental objective,” Dan clarifies, “to establish an environmentally sound and sustainable waste-to-energy incineration plant at the port. This ambitious goal will be realised through a meticulous, transparent, and robust procurement process.”
In tandem with this primary mission, our involvement in the project extends to equipping BIP personnel with enhanced knowledge and proficiency in procurement best practices. Additionally, we are extending our assistance by facilitating the recent implementation of the Public Procurement Act.
‘This transformative legislation ensures enhanced transparency, while positioning the port to attract international investors,’ Dan explains.
Waste-to-energy projects address the mounting waste management crisis and provide clean and renewable energy sources. By repurposing waste materials into usable energy, Barbados, with the help of Crown Agents, is taking proactive steps to tackle climate change while advancing its sustainable development goals.
Having completed his geography degree, Dan could have never foreseen his involvement in supporting Barbados’ accelerated green growth strategy, particularly in the realm of sustainable waste management. Equally unforeseen was his culinary journey, where the once-unlikely star of his diet became the exquisite Mahi Mahi (commonly known as dolphin in Barbados).
“Farewell to the days of indulging in mac and cheese with every meal,” Dan fondly reminisces, whilst he follows his passion to play his part in contributing towards a brighter, more sustainable future in the Caribbean and beyond.