During his Official Opening Remarks at the Bahamas Reef Environment Educational Foundation (BREEF) Extreme Hangout Bahamas climate change student workshop, on March 8, 2024, Prime Minister and Minister of Finance the Hon. Philip Davis pointed out that the formative experiences in his life continued to be a “guiding light” for him.  That included, he said, his early years growing up on Cat Island and “the natural beauty of island life”.

“Because I’ve always known the sacred beauty of our natural environment, I have always been a firm advocate for conservation,” Prime Minister Davis said, at the event held at St. John’s College.

He added:  “What we have here in The Bahamas is unlike anywhere else in the world. Our landscapes, both marine and terrestrial, are contenders to be world wonders.  US astronaut Scot Kelly has said on multiple occasions that The Bahamas is the most beautiful place from space.  And we are just as beautiful up close as we are from hundreds of miles away.”

Minister for the Environment and Natural Resources the Hon. Vaughn Miller also brought remarks; and students from New Providence, Grand Bahama and Cat Island were participants in the workshop.

Prime Minister Davis noted that within “this immense beauty” was also the potential to support livelihoods through fishing, agriculture and aquaculture, and tourism.

“That is why my Government has priortised the cultivation of the blue and green economies from day one,” he said.  “It is critical that we protect our marine and coastal environments to fully tap into the unbridled potential for economic growth and sustainability that we know exists. For this reason, we must remain committed to protecting and preserving the valuable natural assets that we have.”

“Our waters are the lifeline of our economy, our heritage, and our people. It is our duty to protect them,” Prime Minister Davis added.  “Organisations like BREEF are doing incredibly valuable work that benefits us all.”

Prime Minister Davis stated that they must all support those efforts and work together to mitigate the ongoing threats to the environment.

“Some of the threats are internal, like overconsumption, which is one of the biggest contributors to pollution of our environment and the depletion of stocks of marine species due to unsustainable harvesting practices,” he said.

“Other forces at work are external, particularly climate change, which poses the biggest threat to our environment and our people,” he added.  “We have already seen the effects of temperature increases on our waters, triggering coral bleaching events that impact the entire region.”

Prime Minister Davis pointed out that the effects of climate change were only projected to get worse, which “puts both us, our environment, and the flora and fauna that coexist with us at risk”.

“That is why I continue to advocate for more action and assistance for Small Island Developing States like ours on the world stage,” he noted.

“We must also lead the way by adopting a cleaner, more environmentally-friendly way of life,” he added.  “The Government recognises the important role it plays as we transition our islands to renewable forms of energy like solar.”

Prime Minister Davis told the students that he had no doubt that he was standing in the presence of “some of the brightest young minds in The Bahamas.”

He said: “As young leaders, you have the power to promote conservation, to advance climate justice, and to effect change. And we all have individual contributions we can make as well. We can all use less single-use plastics, for example, and less fossil fuels in our personal lives — whether that means a future vehicle purchase that is hybrid or electric, being more conscious of our electricity consumption, or choosing sustainably packaged products and finding ways to reuse the plastic products that we purchase.”

Prime Minister Davis said that, as young leaders, they must not underestimate the impact of their voices.

“Speak up and speak loudly,” he stated.  “Each one of you has a part to play in securing a sustainable future.”

He added:  “We can all be effective advocates. So stand up today, and demand a better future.  Absorb these discussions you have today so you can arm yourself with even more knowledge to be a more effective advocate and change maker in this world.

“Our country is worth fighting for — to preserve all that is beautiful about our environment, our way of life, and our people. Let’s all commit to doing our part to fight for progress.”   (BIS Photos/Eric Rose)

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