Blue Action Lab signs MOU with University of The Bahamas

Blue Action Lab signs MOU with University of The Bahamas
University of The Bahamas students will get training and experience working on many ongoing entrepreneurial and conservation projects, for example its partnership with Earthshot Prize-winning Coral Vita to undertake large-scale reef restoration using methods developed at the top marine institutes around the world. 

New partnership to focus on developing a cutting-edge education and training hub, creating jobs that help protect the country from the worst effects of climate change

FREEPORT, GRAND BAHAMA — A groundbreaking educational and training partnership aims to unlock countless new career opportunities while building resilience to protect The Bahamas from the worst ravages of the climate crisis.

The Grand Bahama-based Blue Action Lab (BAL) is teaming up with the University of The Bahamas (UB) to empower and equip young Bahamians with the skills needed to thrive in the emerging green and blue economies while at the same time helping secure a bright future for the country – both environmentally and economically.

Rupert Hayward

“Building our resilience as a nation in the face of stronger storms, more violent floods and the destruction of our marine resources is the biggest challenge facing The Bahamas today,” said BAL founder and president Rupert Hayward.

“The climate crisis is already hitting small island nations first and hardest, as we recognize only too well on this third anniversary of the devastation caused by Hurricane Dorian.”

Hayward continued: “At the same time, an abundance of cutting-edge career opportunities aimed at helping coastal communities defend against climate threats are just waiting to be claimed. This partnership will allow Bahamians to take full advantage of a virtually untapped reservoir of employment possibilities.

“We want to create a whole new cadre of skilled local professionals and place them at the forefront of an emerging new sector that is likely to become one of the most important economic engines of the global economy in coming decades. This will not just accelerate the climate solutions that The Bahamas needs most; it will also establish the country as global leader in this sphere.”

BAL and UB signed a memorandum of understanding (MOU) that will see the University’s northern campus in Grand Bahama become a hub for training and mentorship of environmental and marine scientists, as well as an innovative research center for pioneering green solutions, supporting the green and blue economy, and developing new models for building resilient ecosystems and communities.

BAL expects to be able to attract considerable international investment and bring “the best of the best” from around the world to contribute to this initiative, facilitating growth and economic opportunity for the Bahamians far into the future.  

Bimini Action Labs has a partnership with Earthshot Prize-winning Coral Vita.

Hayward applauded UB for its vision and commitment to training “the workforce of the future” as part of the institution’s mission to drive national development, foster a culture of research and innovation and encourage service to the community.

Under the partnership, UB North will provide support and training for environmental and marine scientists in Grand Bahama and promote climate action and climate change awareness among Grand Bahamians of all ages. This includes providing lab and meeting space, allowing students and interns to participate in projects with BAL, crafting training programs under the partnership, and welcoming a BAL representative to the advisory board of its proposed Environmental and Marine Science Field Research Station.

In turn, UB students will be able to gain invaluable training and experience participating in BAL’s many ongoing entrepreneurial and conservation projects, for example, its partnership with Earthshot Prize-winning Coral Vita to undertake large-scale reef restoration using methods developed at the top marine institutes around the world. 

UB North Campus President Ian Strachan said: “A key to our Field Station becoming a center of research and instructional excellence is forging partnerships like this one. Blue Action Lab is on the cutting edge of sustainable innovation and this is an area where The Bahamas can become a world leader.

“Climate action is a global imperative. UB must play its role in helping the nation, through research but also by giving citizens the tools needed to preserve our way of life and flourish in the ever-changing global economy.” 

According to Hayward, while many of the solutions developed through this partnership may end up having a global application, it is crucial that the focus remains on the challenges that face The Bahamas today.

“This isn’t just our base of operations,” Hayward said.

“It’s our home. If we want The Bahamas to have a truly sustainable future, we must build resilient local communities here and now. If we want to profit from a local blue and green economy, we have to have the workforce to go with it. We believe this partnership will attract the brightest young minds the country has to offer, while also reversing the notorious brain drain by encouraging Bahamian scientists and researchers to return home.” 

Hayward explained that the green economy protects natural resources, using them as efficiently as possible while also growing employment and income through economic activities that reduce carbon emissions and pollution. Meanwhile, the blue economy encourages better stewardship of our ocean and coastal resources through developing new approaches to energy use, shipping, fisheries, aquaculture, mining, and tourism.

Hayward said: “This partnership will create a range of rewarding careers, in everything from mangrove and reef restoration – which are vital for the tourism, fishing and diving industries, but which also mitigate the impact of hurricanes – to building up coastal sand dunes which stop beach erosion but can also be used to capture and hold atmospheric carbon and reduce reef-killing ocean alkalinity.”