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Policymakers benefit from expertise in addressing Climate Change

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Kingston, Jamaica, December 19, 2016 – Local policymakers are benefiting from the expertise of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) to better understand the risks and implications of the weather-related phenomenon in order to more effectively mitigate its effects.  Set up in 1988 by the World Meteorological Organization (WMO) and United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP), the IPCC provides governments with regular assessments of the scientific basis of climate change, its impacts and future risks, and options for adaptation and mitigation.

In November, regional representatives of the IPCC journeyed to Jamaica to participate in activities to mark Climate Change Awareness Week from November 29 to December 3.  The activities, spearheaded by the Ministry of Economic Growth and Job Creation, which is responsible for the climate-change portfolio, engaged IPCC representatives from Cuba, Suriname, Haiti and other members of the Caribbean Community (CARICOM).

Focus was placed on raising awareness among policymakers and the scientific community from across the region about the IPCC’s role and activities, demonstrate how climate change is affecting the region, and highlight solutions to the challenges.  Activities included a media workshop and a two-day symposium at the University of the West Indies’ (UWI) Regional Headquarters at Mona.

Head of Communications for the IPCC, Jonathan Lynn, in his address at the media workshop, explained that the entity was set up in response to the need to provide governments with advice and information on “what we know about climate change, what we know about the causes, its impact, the future risks and the possible options for dealing with it”.

Thousands of scientists from all over the world contribute to the work of the IPCC on a voluntary basis as authors, contributors and reviewers.  The panel consists of climatologists, biologists, botanists, social scientists, economists, political scientists, and philosophers, among other experts.   “The IPCC is neutral.   Governments have asked us to tell them what is going on and this is what we do… . There may be a need for further research to clarify a particular problem, but we do not have a particular agenda that we are pushing but rather, just telling it like it is,” Mr. Lynn informed.

“We do not conduct our own research, we do not do our own measurements of the climate or the weather, we do not produce our own climate models… . Our job is to assess the science that is out there, the science that is published,” he further clarified.  He argued that with the thousands of scientific publications on climate change released every year, it would be impossible for any one individual or government to interpret, understand or keep track of everything; therefore, the IPCC’s role is extremely important and critical.

“So, the IPCC looks at the thousands of research and pulls it together and outlines where the scientific community agrees, where there are still some uncertainties, where there is a need for further research on the subject, and that gives governments a scientific foundation (so) that they can build their policies,” he pointed out.

He explained that the IPCC’s main audience is not the general public, civil society or the media, but rather “government policymakers and the people who have to respond to climate change, those who need to know what are the hard sciences when they take decisions about building a road, or a city, or preparing to deal with disasters… . They need to have a firm basis of knowledge so that they can take some decisions”.

Mr. Lynn said the IPCC’s findings are also used for international negotiations related to climate change, including the Paris Agreement that was reached in 2015.  The Paris Agreement brings all nations into a common cause to undertake ambitious efforts to combat climate change and adapt to its effects, with enhanced support for developing countries.   “There are no borders to climate change; it is a global phenomenon, so to deal with it, the world has to come together,” Mr. Lynn noted.

“So when an IPCC report is produced it is incredibly powerful, because it reflects both the views of the scientific community and that of the policymakers and governments,” he said.  To communicate IPCC assessment findings and methodologies and to explain the way the organisation works, the IPCC organises various outreach activities and presentations at national and international meetings.

It also works with the media to convey relevant and accurate information to the public on IPCC assessments and activities.  Lauding the efforts of the IPCC in the local activities, Chief Technical Director in the Ministry, Lieutenant Colonel (ret’d) Oral Khan, told JIS News that the entity’s   engagement was quite impactful.  “They shared with our policymakers, academic community, media, students and other interested persons the state of the science on climate change.  The information would confirm that the climate is indeed changing in a very significant way and, because of this, policies must be found to build our resilience in order to be spared the worst impacts of climate change,” he said.

The Chief Technical Director noted that the intention is to enlist the participation of the local science and research community in climate research, and encourage regional participation.  The media workshop, he said, was aimed at fostering a better understanding of climate science, solutions to climate change and the IPCC process among members of that group.  “So we had a rich exchange of ideas, sharing of information, and at the end, the information will go out across the Caribbean,” he told JIS News.

The IPCC is organised in three working groups and a task force, which are assisted by technical support units (TSUs).  Working Group I deals with the physical science basis of climate change; Working Group II focuses on climate-change impacts, adaptation and vulnerability; while Working Group III addresses mitigation.

Participation in the IPCC is open to all member countries of the WMO and United Nations. It currently has 195 members.

 

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Bahamas News

Over 68,000 STAYED HOME in Bahamas Elections; We have BEST and WORST for Voter Participation

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#TheBahamas, September 21, 2021 – The just-concluded General Election in Bahamas has presented a new shift in governance.  The former ruling part, Free National Movement, lost nearly all the electoral seats it secured in the 2017 general elections.  However, this seems a swap of the Progressive Liberal party’s score in the 2017 general elections in which the former ruling party (FNM) won nearly all the parliamentary seats.

68,000 STAYED AWAY

While the FNM secured 35 out of 39 seats in the 2017 ballot, leaving only four slots for the Opposition, the 2021 elections presented “new day” with the Opposition clinching 32 parliamentary seats, leaving the former ruling party FNM with only seven slots.

However, the election results showed a significant drop in voter turnout compared to the 2017 election results. Out of 194,494 registered voters in The Bahamas, only 126,414 voted, translating to 65 per cent voter turnout.

PREVIOUS ELECTION HIGHER

This was different from the previous election in which 160,407 out of 181,543 registered voters cast their ballots, translating to a remarkable 88.36 per cent voter turnout.

Being the first election in the island nation since the Covid-19 struck the Caribbean; the dismal voter turnout could be attributed to the severe impact of the Covid-19 pandemic in The Bahamas and the current countermeasures taken by individuals to avoid contracting the deadly virus.

It could also be voter apathy.

BEST IN SHOW

Despite coronavirus prevalence in the country, North Andros & Berry Islands, Cat Island, Rum Cay & San Salvador, and Mangrove Cay & South Andros constituencies recorded an impressive voter turnout of 77.99 per cent, 76.11 per cent and 73.06 per cent respectively.

North Andros & Berry Islands had 2,126 out of 2,569 registered voters cast their ballots, followed by 1,255 out of 1,622 in Cat Island, Rum Cay & San Salvador, and 1,706 out of 2,164 registered voters in Mangrove Cay & South Andros.

VERY LOW SHOW

The bottom three constituencies in terms of voter turnout include Bamboo Town, which had 3,436 out of 5,838 (58.63 per cent) registered voters cast their ballot, followed by Garden Hills with 3,033 out of 5,287 (57.09 per cent), and   Central & South Abaco falling at the bottom of the list with 1,844 out of 3,271 (55.96 per cent).

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COVID Works programme launched by Ministry of Physical Planning & Infrastructure Development

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#TurksandCaicos, September 21, 2021 – The Minister of Physical Planning and Infrastructure Development, the Honourable Akierra Mary Deanne Missick and the Physical Planning & Infrastructure Development team are pleased to announce the launch of the COVID WORKS Programme, that went live on September 1, 2021.

The Programme seeks to support many who have lost jobs and livelihoods, while providing labour intensive work for economic exchange opportunities for persons to be engaged.

Works are set out in three (3) levels and comprise a variety of categories example, cleaning, road works, demolition and general construction to name a few.

Level 1 – value $1,500 – $9,999

Level 2 – value $10,000 – $39,999

Level 3 – value $40,000 – $70,000

Turks and Caicos Islanders with valid business licenses are also being encouraged to submit proposals to the Public Works Department for consideration for works throughout the islands. 

Commenting on the launch of the programme, Hon. Missick said, “We are very much mindful of the impact that restrictions introduced by Government in an effort to mitigate the spread of Covid-19, has had on the islands, many continue to experience financial hardship. Whilst, the hospitality and construction sectors in Providenciales have rebounded well, as an Administration, we cannot rest knowing that other industries are still limping along.

As a result, during the remainder of this financial year, the Turks & Caicos Islands Government has now launched the COVID Works Programme to provide an opportunity for Petty and Small Contractors to assist the Government in the enhancement of our communities, through programmed works, to the benefit of all of us as residents”.

The Minister went on to note, “This Programme is set to the tune of US$5,000,000.00, and works will be rolled out across the Islands in batches, as we have to ensure that we do not go beyond the allotted expenditure and that financial oversight and transparency are maintained.”

The initial batch of works for South Caicos, which comprised the following, was returned and evaluated on Monday, September 13, 2021 and included:

South Caicos 

Demolition- Queen’s Shed

Demolition- Distribution Concrete Tank

Demolition- Old Clinic Building

Demolition- DECR Building

Demolition- Library Building

Repair of Water Cistern

Works for Grand Turk included:

Grand Turk 

Demolition- Blood Bank Building

Demolition- Geriatric Ward Building

Demolition- Kitchen Building

Demolition- X-ray Building

All returning bids must be sent to the COVID Works email at tcigworks@gov.tc

Kindly note that as of Monday, September 20, 2021, the following works are planned to be released:

Grand Turk: 

Beach Cleaning (Eastern portion of Grand Turk)

Street Cleaning (All areas)

Providenciales:

Beach cleaning (Areas of Shore Club and Five Cays)

Street Cleaning (All areas)

A number of other works for Middle & North Caicos, as well as Salt Cay will be released shortly. This is a six month program that will spread throughout the TCI and we encourage persons to continue to register via tcigworks@gov.tc or the local Public Works Department and District Commissioners’ offices, to be eligible for this opportunity.

These works will continue on a monthly basis and the programme will come to an end in March 2022.

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Bahamas News

BAHAMAS: Nine new Cabinet ministers sworn-in

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#TheBahamas, September 21, 2021 – Prime Minister the Hon. Philip Davis today introduced the first set of new Cabinet ministers with portfolios covering the Attorney General, Foreign Affairs, Education, Works and Public Utilities, Health and Wellness, Government Affairs, Agriculture, National Security and Legal Affairs.

The nine ministers were sworn-in on Monday 20 September 2021 by Governor-General the Most Hon. Sir Cornelius A. Smith during ceremonies held at the Baha Mar Convention Center.

“They are the initial members of a Cabinet which will reflect the breadth and depth of the competencies and characteristics of our team: experience combined with innovation; expertise combined with a willingness to see things anew; integrity and a strong sense of purpose,” said Prime Minister Davis.

“They are receiving these appointments because of their determination to get things done.”

Among the new Ministers sworn-in on Monday were:

  • Senator the Hon. L. Ryan Pinder, Attorney General;
  • Hon. Fred Mitchell, Minister of Foreign Affairs and Public Service;
  • Hon. Glenys Hanna-Martin, Minister of Education, and Technical and Vocational Training;
  • Hon. Alfred Sears, Minister of Works and Utilities;
  • Dr. Hon. Michael Darville, Minister of Health and Wellness;
  • Senator the Hon. Michael Halkitis, Minister of Government Affairs and Leader of Government Business in the Senate;
  • Hon. Clay Sweeting, Minister of Agriculture, Marine Resources and Family Island Affairs;
  • Hon. Wayne Munroe, Minister of National Security; and
  • Hon. Jomo Campbell, Minister of State for Legal Affairs.

“I am confident that these first-appointed members of our Cabinet team are ready to deliver on the promise of a New Day for our Bahamas,” said the Prime Minister.

Prime Minister Davis pledged to move with urgency to address the economic and health crises that are faced by The Bahamas.

Many thousands of Bahamians are out of work, people are losing too many loved ones to the COVID-19 virus and Bahamian schoolchildren are falling behind, said Prime Minister Davis.

“I want to be clear: we are not here to tinker at the edges of these problems,” said the Prime Minister.

“We are here to meet them head on.”

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