“Yu’i Kòrsou are sacrificing their entire coastline for private beach, resort and residential development in the name of economic development. Soon there will be no more public beaches and recreational areas! Where do we draw the line? I want more people to ask this difficult question…”
– Francis O’Connor, Founder of Curaçao Nature Conservation
Curaçao Nature Conservation (“CUNACO”) was born after Francis O’Connor (23) discovered some unsavory plans to develop a huge resort on a nature reserve near one of our few flamingo habitats in November 2008. Undeterred by his (then) 17 years of age and deeply appalled by the intended development, he initiated an online petition hoping to create broad-scale awareness… 1,000 yu’i Kòrsou signed his petition within 2 short days! Francis then co-hosted a nature walk around the area with Amigu di Tera – drawing over 500 yu’i Kòrsou. By the end of June, he had collected 4,000 electronic signatures and 1,200 manual signatures from cold-calling at supermarkets after school. 5,200 signatures-in-hand (approx. 4% of Curaçao’s population) Francis made his case to our former Minister of Justice, Magali Jacoba. Development plans were canceled a few weeks later.
Francis believes greater appreciation for our environment will drive conservation, so CUNACO is geared towards educating people about our impressive natural endowment. He runs CUNACO (website and Facebook page) on a shoestring budget from Amsterdam where he’s majoring in International Business. His sister, Francine, helps out with Facebook content and their mother, Lucy, chips in whenever she can. Francis learns best practices from other environmental organizations (Amigu di Tera, Dutch Caribbean Nature Alliance, Greenpeace); he’s particularly passionate about more effective waste- and beach sand replenishment management as well as banning Styrofoam food containers (heavy pollutant and carcinogen) in favor of carton or plastic.
He constantly looks to add fun and educational content to his (already!) useful website by engaging fans through social media campaigns (contests, raffles, etc) motivating them to discover new, unspoiled parts of our island.
“Love What We Have” social media campaign.
A self-proclaimed “environmental junkie”, Francis has recently introduced a proprietary Social Responsibility rating system where he allocates KaDushi Points to local hotels, restaurants, stores by analyzing their construction process, propensity to sponsor socio-cultural causes, and engage in eco-friendly practices. He plans to roll out a public database in the near future, making natives and tourists more aware of environmental practices, giving them a choice, and creating examples out of establishments with top KaDushi scores.
Make a PayPal donation to help CUNACO expand its reach: curacaonature.org.