Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Works and Urban Development Philip Davis said the Government of The Bahamas recognises the ongoing need to help Bahamians embrace the concept of ownership over their country’s natural environment.
During the Sustainable Future for the Exumas Environmental Management, Design and Planning Public Forum held at The College of The Bahamas (COB), Tuesday, the deputy prime minister explained that this ‘ownership’ of the country’s natural environment includes those things of value which have been crafted by Bahamians over the years and those phenomena that occur in nature.
Minister Davis said, “Our Bahamas is special. In our borders, within Exuma and Eleuthera as well as Andros and San Salvador, we are just beginning to learn about the natural life form, stromalotites that stretches back over three and one half billion years.
“Stromalotites were critically important for creating the essential environment for subsequent air breathing life forms.”
He also noted that Bahamians should take pride in knowing that there is an island within the nation’s borders where the first recorded and continual connection between Europeans and aboriginal Caribbean-Americans took place.
The public forum marked the beginning of a multi-year project, which extends from collaboration among the Bahamas Government, the Bahamas National Trust and the Harvard Graduate School of Design.
The forum builds on the conference held in Nassau July 8, 2011.
Additional symposia, workshops and meetings are planned in parallel with extensive field research focused specifically on the Exumas, and The Bahamas more generally.
The ultimate goal of the project is to develop a series of proposals for designing and planning a more resilient future for the Exumas.
Dr. Betsy V. Boze, President, (COB); Neil McKinney, President, the Bahamas National Trust (BNT) and Mohsen Mostafavi, Dean, Harvard University Graduate School of Design and Dr. Earl Deveaux, former Minister of the Environment also attended the public forum.
Minister Davis told the various collaborators on the project that their work is very important.
He said, “Your approach is scholastic objectivity. You seek to serve the best, which research offers.
“The commitment of all involved in the forum is but one more example to people committed to hard work and excellence producing a result which brings quality to so many.”
Dr. Boze explained that there are three areas that are essential for a society and culture to move forward. First, one must understand a society and its culture in order to move forward.
“The socio-cultural issues must include the development of policies and laws, the selection of governments, the forging of consensus and the resolution of differences.
The COB President said secondly, for a society to move forward, citizens must respect and protect their country’s natural resources. “We live in a fragile archipelagic nation. Our economy and our livelihoods depend on these natural resources.
“We must raise awareness of the importance of their resources, the fragility of our natural and physical environment and the effects on our human activity. We must factor environmental concerns into our policy decisions.”
Lastly, Dr. Boze said the economy is the third essential component. “Meaningful and well-paying jobs must be created for Bahamians that are economically and environmentally sustainable.
“We must be attentive to the economic development’s impact on society and the environment with the commitment to reducing personal and societal levels of consumption out of concern for both the environment and social justice.”
Dr. Boze said that The Bahamas and other Small Island Developing Nations must live with the consequences of lifestyle choices and policy decisions often made elsewhere.
“We cannot maintain the status quo, but through purposeful discourse like this forum today, consider the direction and the implications of change.”