Navy Secretary Reaches Out to Caribbean Nations in Fight Against Climate Change
By Jim Garamone
US Department of Defense
#TheBahamas, March 27, 2023 – Climate change in the United States is a matter of concern with droughts, floods, hurricanes, tornadoes, forest fires and more happening with greater severity and more often.
In the Bahamas, it is more than a concern, it is an existential threat.
“Climate change is a matter of life and death for us here in this country,” said Bahamas National Security Minister Wayne R. Munroe. “There is a choice – if there is not a reverse – to either become refugees or die. It is that serious a matter for this country.”
The United States takes climate change seriously and Secretary of the Navy Carlos Del Toro journeyed to the island nation off the coast of Florida to pledge support for the Caribbean nations fighting for their very existence.
Del Toro made the trip — the first by a secretary of the Navy to the Bahamas – to hear from those fighting against climate change and to find out how the service can help in the struggle. Daniel P. Erikson, deputy assistant secretary of defense for Western Hemisphere affairs, accompanied the secretary.
“The consequences of our changing climate are an existential threat,” Del Toro said during a speech at the University of the Bahamas in Nassau. “The increasing severity of those consequences are already being acutely felt here in the Caribbean. You are on the front lines of the climate crisis.”
Del Toro emphasized that all nations of the region must cooperate to address climate change and put in place policies to halt the rise in global temperatures and mitigate the effects that will surely happen given the changes already evident.
“Climate change does not respect borders or multilateral groupings,” he said. “Hurricanes do not care what passport you carry, whether Bahamian, Jamaican or American. Islands around the world — including those that are part of the United States, such as Hawaii, Puerto Rico, and the U.S. Virgin Islands — share similar climate challenges.”
In that light, Del Toro praised a partnership between the University of Hawaii and the University of the Bahamas. The two university systems will work together to combat and mitigate climate change. Del Toro also announced an upcoming partnership between the Naval Postgraduate School and the University of the Bahamas.
Hurricanes have slammed the Bahamas, with five major hurricanes hitting there in the past eight years. One of those – Dorian – killed 50 people and more than 1,500 are still missing.
“We know that many other storms, minor storms that bring more rainfall than they did in the past, are now also more frequent, causing landslides and flooding that take a devastating human and economic toll never giving you a chance to fully recover, to come up for air before the next storm threatens once again,” Del Toro said.
But climate change also means sea-level rise, and the Bahamas and many other island nations in the Caribbean are in danger. The highest point in the Bahamas is just 200 feet above sea level. The rise that has already occurred has meant coastal flooding, saltwater intrusion into groundwater, and more extreme temperatures. “They are severely impacting not just the environment, but people’s daily lives and livelihoods, especially in the critical tourism industry,” the secretary said.
The nations of the region are responding to this threat, and the secretary pointed to PACC 2030 — the U.S.-Caribbean Partnership to Address the Climate Crisis. Vice President Kamala Harris announced the initiative in June 2022. The two main strategic goals of PACC 2030 are to strengthen energy security and to promote climate adaptation and resilience.
“The U.S. Navy and Marine Corps team has been working on climate and energy security for a long time, and we are accelerating and broadening those efforts,” Del Toro said.
“We know that urgency is in order. Time is not on our side,” he continued. “We are in the critical decade to make meaningful progress so that we can avoid the worst climate scenarios. We must act now. We view the climate crisis much the same way as damage control efforts on a stricken ship. This is an all hands on deck moment.”
The Department of the Navy is stepping forward with Climate Action 2030, a broad, multi-pronged approach. The Navy is working to improve efficiency of ships, electrifying vehicles and greatly reducing emissions. “We are upgrading water and electrical infrastructure right here in the Bahamas at our Atlantic Undersea Test and Evaluation Center,” he said. “We are bringing on more renewables, which means fewer fossil fuels and lower emissions. Over the last decade, we have added more than one gigawatt of renewable energy to the grid.”
The Navy is also funding efforts to help restore coral reefs and is eager to pursue further efforts on coral reef research, regrowth and even creation.
Climate action requires partnerships, he said. “The plan calls for partnerships. We want to share and trade information, resources and expertise with governments and [non-governmental organizations] around the world,” he said. “Everywhere from Vietnam to Ghana to right here in the Caribbean, we are collaborating on projects, enabling best practices to cross-pollinate. Climate Action 2030 will help ensure that great ideas, like climate change itself, have no borders.”
The Department of the Navy works alongside other U.S. government agencies to address crises brought about by climate change. “We recognize that the resilience of our friends and neighbors in this region is of critical importance to our own security, and we want to help,” the secretary said. “That’s why key elements of our involvement in the Caribbean are training exercises, as well as medical and engineering expert exchanges, to empower strong and collaborative regional responses to emergencies.”
This covers everything from responding to health needs after a storm and also building greater resilience and local capabilities to prevent, identify and safely respond to vector-borne diseases, which are becoming less predictable and more prevalent as the climate changes, he said.
He noted that the USNS Comfort, the Navy’s 1,000-bed hospital ship, is a common sight in the Caribbean and plays a vital role in the wake of climate change disasters.
The Navy is putting its money where its mouth is, as Navy engineers have planned, designed and carried out dozens of projects in the Caribbean from humanitarian assistance to military construction projects. “In fact, since 2008, our engineers have executed nearly $100 million in construction projects in the region,” he said.
These projects include airfield improvements and an emergency operations center in the Bahamas; upgrading a pier in Barbados; an operations center and other disaster relief infrastructure in Dominica; emergency response facilities in St. Vincent and the Grenadines; and expanding the hangar and warehouse at the airfield on Exuma Island, which is an essential disaster response hub.
The engineers also worked in Jamaica, St. Lucia and Haiti. “And we are scoping a future project with the Royal Bahamas Defence Force at Coral Harbour,” he said.
Bahamas Government Solidifying relations with Saudi Arabia in High Level Meeting
#TheBahamas, May 30, 2023 – On May 22, 2023 members of The Bahamas cabinet, led by Philip Davis, Bahamas Prime Minister reported that “Yesterday’s fruitful bilateral meeting between Prime Minister Davis and His Excellence Ahmed bin Aqil al-Khateeb, Saudi Arabia’s Minister of Tourism, showcased growing ties and collaboration between both nations.
Prime Minister Davis expressed support for Saudi Arabia hosting World Expo 2030 and discussed a potential diplomatic visa waiver agreement.”
Together, we aim for improved diplomatic relations and exciting opportunities ahead!
Minister Moxey congratulates Defence Force Ranger graduating class, Grand Bahama
#TheBahamas, May 30, 2023 – It was a proud moment for parents of more than fifty boys and girls, who had gathered, along with the Minister for Grand Bahama, Hon. Ginger Moxey for their graduation from the Royal Bahamas Defence Force Rangers program, to officially become Defence Force Cadets.
“On behalf of the Government of the Commonwealth of the Bahamas and on behalf of the Minister of National Security, Minister Wayne Munroe and all of the members of the Royal Bahamas Defence Force, we salute you, we are proud of you, we encourage you and we want you to continue this journey,” Minister Moxey told the new recruits during the ceremony on Saturday, May 13, 2023, at Workers House in Freeport.
“You offer so much to this country, and you are the future of this country. We are cheering for you.”
The event culminated weeks and months of training for the new recruits, encompassing leadership skills, character building exercises, physical training, drills and discipline.
The Grand Bahama Minister said that she was excited, happy an proud to be filling in for National Security Minister, Wayne Munroe, to witness the advancement to a new level of training for the young recruits.
Sharing a brief history of the program, which has existed for almost three decades, Minister Moxey noted that since 1995, the Royal Bahamas Defence Force Ranger Program has had a rich legacy of transforming the lives of Ranger cadets, by empowering them through leadership training, military discipline and civic, community, cultural, spiritual and sporting activities.
The program was first introduced at D.W. Davis Secondary school in Nassau, with the initial goal of redirecting the path of challenged male students at the junior high level towards the path of becoming more productive members within their schools and communities.
“Since that time,” Minister Moxey pointed out, “the Royal Bahamas Defence Force Ranger Program has evolved into a vibrant youth organization, with students participating from 40 schools in New Providence and 24 schools in some of the Family Islands, namely Abaco, Grand Bahama, Eleuthera and Andros.”
She said that in addition to leadership training and the development of core values, the program aims to prepare young Rangers for employment in the wider community, with particular attention to deployment to the Defence Force, and the commercial maritime sector.
During the brief graduation ceremony, the new recruits displayed for the Minister, Commanding Officers and their parents their newly acquired skills in parade drills, physical fitness, discipline, and musical talents. As this year’s Rangers graduate to full Defence Force Cadets, a new corp of recruits will be enrolled for next year’s training program.
Consumer Protection Bill 2023
Addresses rapidly evolving consumer needs in the digital era providing better protection for Bahamian consumers, said Prime Minister Davis
NASSAU, The Bahamas – During his Communication on the Consumer Protection Bill of 2023, Prime Minister and Minister of Finance the Hon. Philip Davis termed it a “significant piece of legislation” designed to enhance the rights of consumers across The Bahamas.
“This Bill is for all Bahamians, from the young mother budgeting for her family’s groceries, to the retiree investing his hard-earned money in a new home appliance,” he said, in the House of Assembly.
“Our individual households, our communities, and our economy depend on the integrity and fairness of trade,” he added. “Over the years, the Consumer Protection Act, Chapter 337C, has served as a firm foundation in ensuring fairness in our markets. However, in an era of digital transactions, global markets, and rapidly evolving consumer needs and products, it’s time for us to strengthen our laws, to adapt and to better protect the interests of Bahamian consumers.”
Prime Minister Davis pointed out that the proposed amendments directly correspond with his Government’s “Blueprint for Change” and “Economic Plan”, and reflected its belief that consumer protections were critical to economic development, poverty reduction, and social well-being.
“Our economic growth depends upon a market which encourages healthy competition, drives innovation, and ensures customer satisfaction,” Prime Minister Davis stated. “At the heart of this new Consumer Protection Bill is a commitment to restructuring and reorganizing the existing provisions for better clarity and comprehension.”
“The Bill aims to expand definitions, refine the functions of the Consumer Commission, and modernize the ways in which the Commission operates,” he added. “These changes are driven by a commitment to transparency and by aligning our policies with best international practices.”
Prime Minister Davis noted that his Government’s focus on transparency supported a market environment in which all players, big and small, could operate, grow and prosper in a manner that was regulated and fair.
He added that his Government was also enhancing the ways consumers can lodge complaints.
“Under the new Bill, consumers can make complaints even while outside The Bahamas, and we are expanding the list of who can make a complaint on behalf of the complainant,” Prime Minister Davis said. “These changes reflect our commitment to inclusivity and accessibility, ensuring that all Bahamians have a voice and can seek redress when necessary.”
Prime Minister Davis pointed out that, in a world that was increasingly digital, his Government recognized the need to streamline processes and make it easier for consumers to give evidence. To that end, he said, the Bill included provisions to allow for virtual testimony, which will expedite investigations and support convenience for consumers.
“The proposed legislation also empowers the Consumer Commission to issue Advisory Notices in situations where harmful practices to consumers are identified,” he added. “We believe these notices will serve as a valuable tool in preventing harmful business practices and educating consumers about potential risks.”
Prime Minister Davis noted that a significant change under the new Bill was the mandatory licensing and registration of providers. Failure to comply will result in penalties, encouraging businesses to operate within the boundaries of law and promoting a culture of accountability, he added.
“The Bill includes stringent provisions against misleading and deceptive conduct, harassment, and coercion,” he said. “We want to create a marketplace where consumers can engage with confidence and without fear.”
“A critical aspect of the Bill is the restriction of pyramid selling and the obligation for businesses to state the full costs of goods or services,” he added. “These measures will help ensure that consumers are not exploited or deceived.”
Prime Minister Davis stated that the Bill seek to repeal sections that no longer serve their purpose, including those on approved and non-approved services and businesses offering repair services. Updating the laws to respond to changed conditions, he added, allowed his Government to ensure the people were served effectively.
“As we continue to usher The Bahamas into the digital age, this Bill also enhances our ability to oversee distance selling and payment arrangements,” Prime Minister Davis said. “With the growth of online commerce, it’s vital that we maintain robust checks and balances, ensuring that every transaction is fair and transparent.”
“Additionally, the Bill expands on the powers of the Minister to make necessary regulations to protect consumers effectively,” he added. “This is crucial as it provides us with the flexibility to adapt and respond swiftly to emerging challenges and opportunities in the marketplace.”
The enactment of the Bill signaled a “significant shift” in his Government’s approach to consumer protection, Prime Minister Davis said. He added that they were aiming for an inclusive economy where everyone had access to safe, quality goods and services at a fair price.
“The Bill goes beyond enhancing the rights of consumers; it is about improving the lives of Bahamians,” Prime Minister Davis said. “It’s about ensuring that when a young Bahamian entrepreneur sets up his first business, he does so in a marketplace that values fairness and transparency.”
“It is about ensuring that when a Bahamian family invests in a new home, they do so with the confidence that their rights as consumers will be respected and protected,” he added. “It’s about creating an environment where businesses thrive on the principles of fair competition and customer satisfaction.
Prime Minister Davis noted that consumer protection was not just about trade, it was about people.
“It is about building a nation where everyone, regardless of their social or economic standing, can confidently participate in the marketplace,” he said.
“In a broader sense, it’s about the kind of country we want to be,” he added. “A country where trust is the cornerstone of our marketplace, where businesses and consumers interact with mutual respect and understanding. A country that values and upholds the rights and dignity of every individual.”
Prime Minister Davis said that, through that Bill, his Government aimed to empower consumers to make informed decisions, to assert their rights, and to seek redress when those rights are violated. That, in turn, will encourage businesses to uphold the highest standards of integrity, fostering a vibrant and fair economy, he added.
“The Consumer Protection Bill is about building a Bahamas where consumers are informed, businesses are accountable, and the marketplace is a space of fairness and trust,” Prime Minister Davis said. “It’s about creating a culture of consumer rights and responsibilities, where every transaction is an opportunity to demonstrate respect and fairness.”
“This bill is more than just legislation — it is a testament to our commitment to the Bahamian people,” he added. “It is about ensuring our nation’s prosperity and our people’s well-being.”
“It is about creating an economy that values and protects its consumers, a resilient, inclusive, and fair economy.”
Prime Minister Davis said that, in tabling the Consumer Protection Bill 2023, his Government were making a strong statement about the future it envisioned for The Bahamas.
“As we discuss and debate this bill, let us keep at the forefront of our minds the people we serve – the Bahamian people,” he said. “Let us remember that this Bill is not just about rules and regulations, it is about their lives, their rights, and their future.”
“I am proud to present this Bill, confident that it will set the stage for a more secure, equitable, and prosperous Bahamas.” (BIS Photos/Ulric Woodside)
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