#TurksandCaicos, February 25, 2021 – If we have learned anything from the recent election in TCI, it’s that our democracy is still intact and stronger than ever. Now that we have a new government in office, some may say we can breathe a sigh of relief. I beg to differ and caution you, not so quick.. we still have some difficult roads ahead.
We can all agree, these past four years was quite a challenging time for our country. Let’s spell it out, a relatively small country that depends solely on the tourism industry, stuck with a once-in-a-century pandemic and back-back devastating hurricanes; this is the epitome of any government being tested and tried. Nevertheless, in an age of increasing demands, entitlement and little room for excuses, it’s no surprise this past election was a landslide for the opposition.
Despite the unforeseen events, there is an expectation from the general public, no matter what, you still have to deliver on your promises with noticeable changes and reforms. Most importantly, knowing in what order of priority the challenges set before you should be pursued for the benefit of the people.
Prior to the pandemic, we had a seemingly robust and durable economy. However, in recent months, we quickly realized how delicate it is, and how swiftly it can be undermined if it lacks diversification of resources for long-term economic growth. I believe it is with well intentions for most political leaders to do good for their country. Be reminded, when the new PDM party got elected to office in 2016, they gave off the appearance of great strength, at least on the surface. But as we know for any leader to be effective, having the right team behind you is critical for success.
This brings me to my main points; at this juncture in our quest to move the country forward, lets focus on the opportunities that lies ahead rather them critiquing the past.
Let’s start with finding creative ways to stabilize the job market, conducting a deep dive into cost of living in these islands, expanding on agricultural opportunities and taking on other calculated risk. It is of paramount importance for the new administration to seriously consider strengthening of our fragile infrastructure or eventually the cookie will crumble. It is the framework for any reasonable successful and durable society.
Secondly, we cannot and should not base progress on maintaining the status quo, especially when it comes to critical infrastructure issues like our public sanitation services across these developing islands. Also, we must to be able to put aside political differences if only to protect our core institutions and values. And at some point, the politicians on both sides needs to see their interest as aligned as opposed to always in a conflict. The only way to bring about real change is through continued accountability of our political leaders and having a unified voice. Therefore, don’t stop blowing the “conch shell horns” just yet, the real test is about to come.
The newspapers along with the various social media platforms, also have a vital role to play, as the public relies heavily on the facts rather than hearsay or opinions. Also, the overarching negative comments of publicly attacking each other’s character has to stop. Being critical of his or her performance or lack thereof is more prudent.
Thirdly, given the rising voice and voting power of our youth in this country, they can no longer be ignored. Our youth are the most important segment of society in terms of the future of our country, which was manifested significantly in their eligibility to turn out and vote in this past election cycle. During the past several weeks, it has been fascinating to see how the political parties ramped up efforts to get their message out. And Kudos to the various talk show hosts for educating the masses and challenging the politicians on issues that mattered the most. This needs to become the norm.
We know the real success is when voters can cast ballots in significant numbers, which we saw in this election cycle despite the fears and exposure of this ongoing covid-19 pandemic. As a people, we must also be brave enough to speak up when we see corruption or things that undermines the basic principles of our core values. Leaders who fail to listen to the voice of the people has no place in the free world, because it weakens the core of democracy.
In my opinion, if the solidity of our institutions in these islands remains strong, and we can capitalize on missed opportunities, we will be in a much better position to weather the storms. Certainly, this new government is facing an uphill battle with returning the country to some kind of normalcy, but it’s time to heal the wounds and move forward.
If they make it a central focus of their administration to put the power back in the hands of the people, by restoring the rights of land to it’s citizens, in addition to restoring the original constitution as it once was or beyond, they will have accomplished much.
Concerned citizen of Grand Turk
GBPA Statement from Ian Rolle, President
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.
Beneath the Waves’ summer camp inspires young Bahamians to become stewards of the environment
#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.
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.
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
Caribbean Rising: Regional Heads of Government Meet in The Bahamas Aug 16-17 to discuss Caribbean position on Climate Change Mitigation
#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)
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