US Vice President Kamala Harris’ visit to The Bahamas presents an ideal opportunity to jumpstart our national sustainability and resilience-building efforts in the face of the urgent threats to our economy and communities posed by global warming and climate change.
Her meeting with Caribbean leaders in Nassau this week will center upon advancing efforts to combat climate change in the region and it is fitting that our Prime Minister Phillip Davis, a vocal champion of climate resilience since coming to office, will serve as co-chair along with VP Harris.
It is my hope that high on the agenda of these talks will be the enormous potential of Grand Bahama to become a key focal point in the climate battle and the emergence of the Blue Economy in The Bahamas. Already the industrial capital of the nation and boasting a regulatory regime specifically designed to encourage innovation, the island is uniquely positioned to be a cutting-edge engine room and test lab for pioneering climate resilience technologies that can greatly benefit The Bahamas, the region and the world.
Meanwhile, developing Grand Bahama into a hub for climate solutions will also create unprecedented training, employment and entrepreneurial opportunities for hundreds if not thousands of Bahamians in exciting emerging fields.
The island is already home to the Blue Action Lab (BAL), an entity dedicated to empowering young Bahamians with the skills needed to thrive in the emerging green and blue economies while at the same time helping secure a climate-resilient future for the country. BAL recently signed a memorandum of understanding (MOU) with the University of The Bahamas that will see the UB 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 supporting the green and blue economy, and developing new models for building resilient ecosystems and communities.
Grand Bahama is also home to the Blue Action Accelerator (BAA), a groundbreaking effort to attract significant investment for the development of new climate solutions. The recently-launched sustainability investment platform is working with international partners to raise $10 million to fund and support up to 35 cutting-edge science and technology startups working to mitigate climate change, increase ocean health, and build coastal resilience in vulnerable countries like The Bahamas.
There is also Coral Vita, a pioneering reef restoration project based in Grand Bahama, founded by environmental entrepreneurs with a deep passion for protecting coastal ecosystems and communities from the effects of climate change. The initiative creates high-tech coral farms that use breakthrough methods to restore reefs in the most effective way possible. Coral Vita’s scientific team has partnered with leading marine institutes, using techniques to grow coral up to 50x faster while boosting their resiliency against the warming and acidifying oceans that threaten their survival.
Just last month, Forum for Impact (FFI) Americas was held in Grand Bahama. The international conference attracted more than 60 investors from the US, Canada, Europe and Latin America and was held under the theme: “The Convergence of Resilience, Conservation and Investment”. FFI co-founder Michael Meehan noted that the contributions of The Bahamas – and especially Grand Bahama – will be crucial to the global fight against climate change. Among the key topics discussed were Grand Bahama’s potential to generate both income and climate resilience in emerging blue carbon markets.
Additionally, discussions have been held around locating other groundbreaking sustainability initiatives in Grand Bahama. These include the construction of cutting-edge renewable power generation systems, the establishment of the carbon economy, large-scale mangrove restoration, and innovative financing mechanisms to fund the development of new ideas for transitioning to clean energy and fighting climate change, and many more.
When it comes to climate resilience exploration in Grand Bahama for the benefit of The Bahamas, the region and the world, the sky really is the limit. The Grand Bahama Port Authority and the Government must work cooperatively to take advantage of these incredible opportunities to bring new investment and forge ambitious new opportunities for Bahamians while protecting our birthright for the benefit of future generations.
Written by: Rupert Hayward