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2015 Christmas Message By The Rt. Hon. Perry G. Christie Prime Minister and Minister of Finance The Commonwealth of The Bahamas

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Nassau, 24 Dec 2015 – My Fellow Bahamians:

As we celebrate Christmas this year, let us be mindful of one of the great truths impressed upon humankind by Jesus Christ whose birth we are commemorating: Love Thy Neighbour As Thyself.

However, let’s remember that our neighbours extend beyond the persons residing in the house next door. They encompass all of our brothers and sisters in the national family and those from other countries who live among us.

We know that it is easy to love our relatives and friends but if we are to build a stronger and safer Bahamas, we must share ourselves with our neighbours in the broadly defined sense of the term as I have just used it.

Love is usually shown at Christmas by giving material gifts to loved ones and in the fellowship of family dinners, parties and other social events. However, we need to remind ourselves that those who are not in those close circles of family and friends may be in even greater need of our love and compassion, especially at this time of year in this Season of Giving.

If we demonstrate love, compassion, peace, and a spirit of reconciliation towards all persons within our borders, many of the concerns that we have with our society will greatly diminish.

We witnessed real examples of this love and compassion when, in October, a number of islands in the central and southeastern Bahamas were ravaged by Hurricane Joaquin. It was a wonderful, even awe-inspiring example, of the great good that lies within us and of the powerful spirit of neighbourly goodwill that wraps us together into a national family. I cannot commend enough all those civic groups, religious organizations, government agencies and private individuals that partnered with the National Emergency Management Agency in addressing the needs of those ravaged by Joaquin.

At this time of year we should also be thankful for all the many agencies and volunteer groups that came together to help our brothers and sisters in greatest need – the poor, the hungry, the unemployed, those abandoned by their families and left to fend for themselves. These, the least among us, press hard upon the national conscience as indeed they do on our own private consciences as well. We are so grateful for the efforts of all those persons who contributed so generously of their time and resources to help alleviate the misery and suffering of the afflicted among us.

As we prepare to start a new year, we in the government are encouraged by new developments and investments in our Bahamas. Indeed in recent weeks Heads of Agreements for significant new developments were signed heralding a bright economic future for our Bahamas.

We are also encouraged by the progress being made in relation to Baha Mar. We therefore look with optimism and confidence towards the day when this resort will fulfill its promise and positively impact the economic life of our nation. Despite all the setbacks, I remain absolutely convinced that this will happen in 2016. This is not wishful thinking. It is well informed optimism.

We are also buoyed by ongoing infrastructural developments in our nation and by the new pages that are being turned in the vitally important spheres of telecommunications and energy. These improvements are helping us to build a stronger and more modern Bahamas better equipped to meet the challenges of life in the 21st Century.

My Fellow Bahamians,

As we are reminded of the surpassing value of family, we must remember that the fight against crime is a concern for all of us. We must therefore redouble our efforts to work together with our uniformed forces.

We will continue to institute training opportunities and job creation initiatives to ensure that our at-risk youth are afforded positive life changing alternatives.

At the same time, however, those who remain intent on pursuing lives of criminality, who only want to rob and steal or to inflict violence upon others, to such persons, they must hear this: cease and desist because there is no place in our society for those hell-bent on senseless acts of violence. The strong arm of the law will catch up with you, so stop, stop now, and stop before it is too late.

We will be introducing even tougher measures to combat criminality in 2016. Bringing down crime is a challenge of the highest priority and one that we are determined to wrestle to the ground in the New Year.

On that note, I wish to express our appreciation to our uniformed forces, especially the Royal Bahamas Police Force and the Defence Force, our Department of Corrections and our Customs and Immigration officers. They are working diligently to make sure that our Bahamas is safe and secure.

To all of our civil servants, I offer thanks and appreciation for the hard work that you do all year long. Your commitment to public service is indispensable to the continued development of our nation.

To those visiting with us, we welcome you to our country and know that when you sample our food, take in our Junkanoo Parades and enjoy our hospitality this Holiday Season, you will return again and again as welcomed and appreciated family members.

My Fellow Bahamians, as we look beyond this Holiday Season and into the New Year, we see a road of progress sprawling before us. Yes, we know that we have a way to go. Yes, we will have challenges. Yes, we will have setbacks. Yet we also see milestones ahead of us, like our National Development Plan VISION 2040, the implementation of the first phase of National Health Insurance, and the expansion of the national economy in ways that are bound to create many new jobs and give rise to many more opportunities for entrepreneurial enterprise. You will be hearing more about our specific plans in all these areas as the New Year progresses.

So, I feel good about our prospects for 2016. It’s going to be a good year for The Bahamas, a good year for Bahamians. I’m convinced of that! And together we can make what already promises to be a good year even better!

I wish each and every one of you, my entire Bahamian family, a Merry Christmas and God’s richest blessings for the New Year.

May the Peace of God that passes all understanding cover all of us in our Bahamas.

Thank you.

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Bahamas News

GBPA Statement from Ian Rolle, President

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Re:  GBPA’s Response to fire in the International Bazaar

 

#TheBahamas, August 10, 2022 – The Grand Bahama Port Authority is aware of the recent fire at the International Bazaar.

The GBPA has engaged, and continues to engage, with operators of the International Bazaar, which include representatives of the Bazaar Association and several property owners, so that we can continue demolition exercises on the dilapidated structures and buildings.

The GBPA is acutely aware of the need to demolish derelict structures within the International Bazaar for the safety of all businesses and visitors. We have performed demolitions in the past at our own cost, most recently in February 2022 when we, in partnership with owners, demolished fire-damaged buildings in the Oriental Section. We have also written to numerous property owners of dilapidated structures over the years to sensitize them to the need to repair or demolish their buildings.

In addition, we have engaged the Government of the Bahamas in advance discussions to approve our requested amendments of the Building and Sanitary bylaws, which would enable GBPA to execute more demolitions in a timely manner and recoup the associated costs.

With the requested bylaw amendments in place, GBPA can continue to make consistent efforts to address the remainder of derelict buildings in the International Bazaar and other dilapidated structures within the city.

The GBPA itself has never owned any part of the International Bazaar but has historically subsidized the Bazaar for many years when owners were no longer maintaining its communal areas.

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Beneath the Waves’ summer camp inspires young Bahamians to become stewards of the environment

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#TheBahamas, August 10, 2022 – While the waters near Great Exuma are renowned for their unmatched beauty, last weekend, more than 40 students spent a day with Beneath the Waves learning the deeper value of the marine ecosystems that surround their islands and act as a bedrock for the Bahamian economy and way of life.

As participants in the non-profit’s summer camp, the young students learned about mangrove and coral reef habitats and the many species that live among them.

They heard about some of Beneath the Waves’ research, including studies of sharks, seagrass and blue carbon, and research methods like underwater video surveys.

Coral Vita Conservancy, which has been working relentlessly to restore coral reefs off Grand Bahama, sent team member Joe Oliver , Director of Restoration Operations, to assist with the camp and provide in-depth information on corals in The Bahamas.

Team ECCO, a North Carolina-based ocean education organization, also provided in-depth lessons on invertebrates and fish.

Long after the taste of ice cream at the end-of-day party has faded, campers will remember learning how to tag a lifelike shark. And they’ll wear their camp t-shirts with pride, remembering this is the day they learned to value the water all around them and what lies beneath the waves.

Eleven-year-old twin sisters Kassidy and Kaylee Burrows described the camp as a highlight of their summer vacation.

“We had a lot of fun,” said Kassidy. “And we learned all about sponges, the water, mangroves, coral reefs — how they protect animals and how they protect the shore — and also about animals themselves, aquatic animals, for example, sea anemones, corals, sponges and sharks.”

Kassidy was especially enthused to share her experience with helping to plant new mangroves.

“We found out how mangrove seeds can actually disperse into the water,” she said.

“And I thought they were going to be small seeds, but, in my opinion, they looked like asparagus kind of.

“We also got to go in the water and plant new mangroves.”

Beneath the Waves’ scientists have been studying The Bahamas’ waters for more than a decade, having helped with the creation and management of conservation policies, including the legislation that made the country’s waters a shark sanctuary in 2011.

The non-governmental organization knows that in continuing efforts to protect The Bahamas’ greatest asset, its natural environment, community buy-in is vital.

And in that context, the value of helping young Bahamians gain these kinds of hands-on experiences and lessons, ones they’ll undoubtedly carry with them through life, can’t be overstated.

Kaylee Burrows is already brainstorming the ways she can apply what she learned in her future career.

While the mangroves piqued her sister’s interest, Kaylee said she was fascinated by coral reefs and the important role they play on a global scale, though she noted they don’t seem to be sufficiently appreciated.

“I learned that The Bahamas has some of the biggest coral reefs in the world,” she said. “We actually put pieces of coral on a pipe to help build a platform for the coral. The reason I chose coral reefs over all of the topics is because we the people of the Bahamas, don’t even recognize how important our islands are. These coral reefs are very beneficial to the whole world.”

Kaylee said she hopes to one day become a veterinarian and an author.

“As a vet, I can help not just land animals, but marine animals too,” she said. “As an author, I can write books on marine biology. I think this experience helped with my future career, and I’m forever grateful.”

Beneath the Waves Managing Director Jamie Fitzgerald said plans are underway to make the camp an annual event.

“We look forward to being able to work more closely with local schools in the islands we frequent, such as Exuma and Nassau, to develop educational materials around sharks and marine science, and to foster opportunities for internships and future careers for any aspiring Bahamian marine biologists,” Fitzgerald said.

 

Photo Captions: 

Header: Hands-on experience – Exuma students planting mangroves with the help of research scientists from Beneath the Waves  — just one of the many memorable moments from the non-profit’s summer camp that was held on July 23. (Photos courtesy of Beneath the Waves)

1st insert: Learning about coral — With the help of experts from Coral Vita, a Grand Bahama-based organization working to restore reefs near the island, students built plaforms for coral. (Photos courtesy of Beneath the Waves)

2nd insert: More to come  – Camp leaders and participants posed with the inflatable shark, as the first of what is hoped to be many Beneath the Waves summer camps came to an end. (Photos courtesy of Beneath the Waves)

 

Release: Beneath the Waves

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Caribbean Rising: Regional Heads of Government Meet in The Bahamas Aug 16-17 to discuss Caribbean position on Climate Change Mitigation

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#TheBahamas, August 5, 2022 – The Bahamas will host the first Regional Meeting of the Heads of Government of the Caribbean in preparation for COP27 in Nassau, The Bahamas on August 16-17, 2022.

The inaugural event is being introduced by the Government of The Bahamas with the aim of devising a regional position on climate change mitigation ahead of COP 27 which will take place in Sharm El-Sheikh, Egypt November 6-20, 2022.

Invited participants include the Head of State from the following countries: Antigua and Barbuda, Anguilla,

Barbados, Belize, Bermuda, British Virgin Islands, Cayman, Cuba, Dominica, Dominican Republic, Grenada, Guyana, Haiti, Jamaica, Montserrat, Saint Kitts and Nevis, Saint Lucia, Saint Vincent and the Grenadines, Suriname, and Trinidad and Tobago and Turks and Caicos.

The Government of The Bahamas intends to establish the meeting as an annual event and will seek to have it instituted as a regular meeting on calendar of the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change Convention (UNFCCC).

“The Bahamas is introducing this conference as we seek to get results in the climate change fight,” Prime Minister Hon. Philip Davis, Prime Minister of The Bahamas said ahead of the talks.

“The Bahamas, along with the region, has lobbied year after year, meeting after meeting, as we sought for the world to acknowledge our vulnerable position.”

“This meeting will position the Caribbean region to take control of our fate and present a unified position to the world at COP27,” Prime Minister Davis added.

The meeting is also intended to establish a Caribbean response exclusive of the conventional Latin

America-Caribbean pairing in order to better reflect common geographical and geo-political issues of Caribbean states.

“What we’ve been lacking regionally is a strategy that would aid us in our negotiation process when we go to the conferences of the parties referred to as COPs,” says Rochelle Newbold, Special Advisor on Climate Change and Environmental Matters and Climate Tsar in the Office of the Prime Minister in The Bahamas.

“This year will be COP number 27 and, as a region, we have never put forward a strategy document or an intent of how we want to deal with the issues that we face within the region collectively,” Newbold added.

The conference agenda will also focus on renewable energy, energy security, climate adaptation, climate financing, loss and damage due to tropical weather systems and establishing a framework for the sale of carbon credits.

Delegates attending COP26 in Glasgow, Scotland in December 2021 signed off on a global climate agreement to reduce greenhouse gas emissions and counter global warming by limiting the temperature rise on Earth to a 1.5 degrees Celsius threshold.

The global warming phenomenon has been linked to more frequent and aggressive hurricanes in the Caribbean, which have subjected the region to billions of dollars in damage and bound countries to burdensome loan commitments.

According to the Assessment of the Effects and Impacts of Hurricane Dorian in The Bahamas report issued by the Inter-American Development Bank in March 2022,       damage and losses from Hurricane Dorian amounted to US$3.4 billion, a quarter of the country’s GDP.

A heat wave rolling across the United States and Europe is also being attributed to rising temperatures.

The UK recorded temperatures of over 40°C (104°F) for the first time in July 2022, according to local forecasters.

“We know that if we reach that 1.5°C and we exceed it, everything changes for everybody. While land-locked countries and large continents like South America will experience a change, island-states will experience that change three and four-fold.”

“With this meeting we will have all of those who face the same threat level sitting down together, discussing options, considering what is being suggested and how realistic this will be. For us, this is a fundamental thing that we should have been doing a long time ago,” Newbold said.

At the conclusion of the meeting, a Chair’s Summary will be made available detailing the scope of the discussions as well as key messages and ideas that emerge. Additionally, the region plans to launch an initiative at COP27 to advance advocacy efforts on behalf of Caribbean States.

 

Photo Caption: During the weekly Press Briefing, at his Office, on August 4, 2022, Prime Minister and Minister of Finance the Hon. Philip Davis announced that The Bahamas will host the Regional Caribbean Heads of Government Meeting, 16-17 August, 2022 at Baha Mar Resort.  (BIS Photos/Eric Rose)

 

For Press Inquiries:

Clint Watson, Press Secretary

Office of The Prime Minister

Commonwealth of The Bahamas clintwatson@bahamas.gov.bs

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