Freeport’s Blue Action Lab wins international prize for blue economic innovation

Freeport’s Blue Action Lab wins international prize for blue economic innovation
Rupert Hayward.

FREEPORT, GRAND BAHAMA — The Blue Action Lab, located in Freeport, Grand Bahama, has been awarded the Blue Climate Initiative’s Community Award for its efforts and vision to develop, implement and scale blue economy strategies to combat climate change and build resilient coastal and island communities.

The award is given to innovative organizations working on place-based, sustainable solutions ranging from food security and renewable energy to ecosystem restoration and sustainable tourism. The Blue Action Lab was one of six organizations to receive the prestigious award out of more than 80 organizations from 45 countries and island nations around the world.

The Blue Action Lab is partnering with the Grand Bahama Port Authority (GBPA), GBDevco and many other public and private organizations to test new solutions and accelerate the advancement of viable climate change solutions from concept to reality.

With this Blue Climate Initiative support, the Blue Action Lab is building a centralized hub on Grand Bahama where innovation can be rapidly tested, structured, financed and scaled through a world-class network of industry leaders, impact investors, research institutes, nonprofits and entrepreneurs.

While taking a holistic “ridge-to-reef” approach, the Blue Action Lab is initially focused on ocean-based solutions that address the immediate challenges facing The Bahamas. Favored strategies deliver substantial social, economic and environmental benefits such as employment, increased access to fresh food and affordable housing and improved air and water quality — and, of course, resilience to big storms.

The future Blue Action Lab in Freeport, Grand Bahama. (PHOTO: BLUE ACTION LAB)

Rupert Hayward, co-founder and president of the Blue Action Lab, said: “We would like to thank the Blue Climate Initiative for recognizing the work done and planned in the coming years by the Blue Action Lab team.

“At the Blue Action Lab, we are looking to enable solutions to the big issues facing many Bahamians and other coastal communities after the tragic effects of COVID-19 and hurricanes like Dorian.

“We hope to make Grand Bahama a leader in developing the solutions to climate change and tap into the emerging $27 trillion market for resilient technologies. This strategy will boost our economy with diversified and inclusive growth, while mitigating the effects of big storms, rising seas and environmental degradation.

“I would like to thank all those who have supported the Blue Action Lab to date, especially the Grand Bahama Port Authority and Michael Pintard, the minister of marine resources and agriculture, who, as strategic partners, have been instrumental in breathing life into this important project.”

Janot Mendler de Suarez, advisor to the Blue Action Lab and also working with the World Bank on climate risk, disaster risk financing and resilient food systems, echoed this sentiment, adding: “It is very exciting that The Bahamas, through the Blue Action Lab, is now at the forefront in this global repositioning of small island states as large ocean nations and engines for climate resilient development.

“Building models for blue economic growth and innovation here will help lead The Bahamas and island nations out of the pandemic, while charting a course that will enable them and many other communities to thrive for generations to come.”

Rashema Ingraham, advisor to the Blue Action Lab and executive director of Waterkeepers Bahamas, said: “The Blue Action Lab understands the importance of inclusive and equitable sustainable development for the Bahamas and I am looking forward to working with them and our communities both here in Grand Bahama, and in the wider Bahamas, to make sure the Blue Action Lab initiatives represent the concerns and aspirations of those communities.”

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