NASSAU, BAHAMAS — Cat Island Conservation Institute (CICI) founder and executive director Nikita Shiel-Rolle has joined critics of the newly formed Economic Recovery Committee, pointing to glaring gaps in an open letter to the prime minister.
In offering her suggestions, Shiel-Rolle noted that the establishment of the Committee is “a much-needed step towards re-imagining what a sustainable and resilient Bahamas looks like”.
“The committee as it stands is comprised of economic leaders who represent the old Bahamian economic model – a dependence on finance and tourism,” she said.
“The finance sector and tourism have been the driving engine of our economy for decades. In the current COVID-19 world we must now re-imagine and take to heart the subject of diversifying our economy.”
She continued: “Furthermore, while we are recreating our economic engine in the immediate shadow of COVID-19 we cannot forget the real and pressing matters as it relates to climate change and how COVID-19 and the aftermath of Hurricane Dorian presents a glimpse of real and existential threats to the Bahamian people.
“All development plans going forward be them health-related, education, environmental, or economic must take into account The UN Sustainable Development Goals. Of utmost priority must be to include the science of climate change to inform our national development plan.
Shiel-Rolle said: “A most unfortunate situation would be for millions of dollars to be spent to drive economic recovery only for our economy to take a third hit because the realities of climate disasters and the need for climate adaptation were not taken into account.”
Committee members include: John Rolle, Governor, Central Bank of The Bahamas; Wendy Craigg, former Central Bank Governor; Advisor, Ministry of Finance; Christina Rolle, Executive Director, Securities Commission of The Bahamas; Davinia Blair-Grant, Executive Director, Small Business Development Centre; John Delaney, Q.C., Senior Partner, Delaney Partners; Khrystle Rutherford-Ferguson, Chair, Bahamas Chamber of Commerce and Employers Federation; Greg Laroda, Chair, Grand Bahama Chamber of Commerce; Suzanne Pattusch, Executive Vice-president, Bahamas Hotel & Tourism Association; Tanya McCartney, Executive Director, Bahamas Financial Services Board; Nat Beneby, former Managing Director, RBC Royal Bank; Patrick Ward, President/CEO, Bahamas First General Insurance Co; Edison Sumner, Principal, Sumner Trading Partners; Franklyn Butler, CEO/President, Cable Bahamas Ltd; Obie Ferguson, President, Bahamas Trade Union Congress; and Matt Aubry, Executive Director, Organization for Responsible Governance.
Shiel-Rolle, who also founded Young Marine Explorers, noted officials must ensure the new economic model engenders holistic sustainability while ushering in innovative, empowering and diverse economic opportunities that allow Bahamians to live in harmony with nature.
“I encourage you to identify experts in small island sustainability, sustainable natural resource use and management, community conservation, arts and culture, and climate action to add to your committee,” she said.
“Additionally, as the recovery committee should be planning for the long term future economic stability of The Bahamas the voice of youth and younger professionals under the age of 40 must be represented. The minds that are creating our new economic model should be representative of all Bahamians, which must include individuals who understand the nuances of life in the Family Islands.
Shiel-Rolle added: “Lastly, I would like to remind you that experts come from all backgrounds and that academic credentials should not be the sole determining factor for economic innovation.”