Academics, policymakers, conservationists and champions for small island sustainability will gather in Grand Bahama next month to dissect the major topics underpinning climate change and resilience, while the scars of Hurricane Dorian are still fresh. Grand Bahama was one of the islands that bore the brunt of the hurricane last September, but will in the next few weeks serve as ground zero for comprehensive discussions at the 2nd Annual Sustainable Grand Bahama Conference under the theme, “Hurricane Dorian, Reflecting, Reimagining, Rebuilding” hosted by University of The Bahamas-North (UB-North). The hurricane severely battered the campus, much like the rest of East Grand Bahama, displacing some 500 students, faculty and staff.
Vice President of UB-North Dr. Ian Strachan said the conference, scheduled to be held 5th – 7th March at the Pelican Bay Resort, will be a transformative experience. It is intended to position the University as a space for objective dialogue on matters relevant to the economic, social, environmental and cultural future of Grand Bahama and by expansion the northern Bahamas. “This is our second conference; the first was held in 2018. But Dorian happened and we saw the wisdom in shifting our focus from broader questions of sustainable development in order to zero in on the impact of this hurricane. We know that UN Sustainable Goal 13 speaks to Climate Action, so we are not going that far afield by focusing on this history making storm,” noted Dr. Strachan at a press conference held on Wednesday, 19th February to announce the conference.
“Our big concern is to make sure that we get smarter as a people, that we prepare better, build stronger, plan and execute more effectively and respond methodically. Our country and Grand Bahama in particular will face life threatening storms of increasing intensity in the years to come. Will we be ready? How do we get ready?” he added. Over 50 presenters from around the country, the region, North America and Europe, will address myriad topics and engage in an intensive analysis of Hurricane Dorian’s impact, challenges and opportunities. “Dorian was the worst disaster in almost 100 years in our country. But good can come out of tragedy. The good will come if we learn and change – if we raise our voices against climate injustice; if we practice what we preach in terms of conservation and clean energy use; if we build more intelligently; if we equip those who must stand in harm’s way with the tools they need; if we give each citizen the knowledge and skills necessary to increase their chances of survival; and if we prepare, prepare, prepare,” Dr. Strachan said.
The conference is timely and relevant as The Bahamas has pledged its commitment to Sustainable Development Goal 13 which relates to Climate Action. Aliv, which played a key role in the disaster response in Dorian’s aftermath, is the lead sponsor. “Aliv’s General Manager for the Family Islands Richard Stanton said the company is delighted to partner with the University.“The conference is well timed and a vital forum. This year’s theme, “Hurricane Dorian, Reflecting, Reimagining, Rebuilding” is a conversation we have heavily participated in prior to, during and post the Hurricane Dorian devastation. The conversation is one that we know will go on and our assistance on many levels will continue as well,” he said.
Other members of the corporate community are also lending their support to the event including: G.B Power, Equinor, Maecal, Pelican Bay, the Ministry of Grand Bahama, and Generali. UB alumni Hon. Iram Lewis, Minister of State for Disaster Preparedness, Management and Reconstruction, is slated to deliver the keynote address on 5th March and Hon. Kwasi Thompson, Minister of Grand Bahama will also deliver a presentation.