Two high school students and one University of The Bahamas student who inked the link between renewables and climate change walked away with honours and cash prizes today with the top winner being named the first ever Inti Environmental Youth Ambassador following Inti Corporation’s Environmental Essay Contest.
The winners were announced at a presentation at the Bahamas National Trust’s Retreat on Village Road. On hand for the ceremony were Minister of Environment and Natural Resources Vaughn Miller and Minister of State for Education Zane Lightbourne along with officials from the Ministry of Education, University of The Bahamas and Owen Bethel, founder and President of Inti Corp.
Inti Corporation Ltd. is the Bahamian firm responsible for the design, engineering, procurement, and construction of The Bahamas’ largest solar installation.
Cierra Rahming, of the University of The Bahamas, took home $1,000 for winning the tertiary level competition while Kingsway Academy’s Makayla Kerr won the secondary division earning $750 and Sister Mary Patricia Russell’s Sarah Roker won the junior division and $500 at the awards presentation.
The competition focused on the theme ‘Renewable and sustainable energy can significantly impact climate change in The Bahamas’ and followed the eco-conscious traveling art exhibition “One Goat and Three Birds” created by three artists who wanted to capture the devastation of Hurricane Dorian, including an oil spill that turned out to be far worse than initially assessed as only killing one goat and three birds.
The winners beat other entrants who were required to incorporate key words and phrases into their essays, including climate change, environment, solar solutions, sustainable development and youth and climate change.
In partnership with the Ministry of Education, judging was done by teachers, who read each essay and scored based on its messaging, and innovation to addressing climate change and its effects on countries like The Bahamas.
In her winning essay, Rahming highlighted the role everyone can play in tackling the global issue, using renewable energy to make a positive impact, stating “The potential of solar energy coupled with adaptation, remediation, and sustainable development measures, can mitigate the adverse effects of climate change on the archipelago. Moreover, the involvement of women and youth in climate change action will ensure a more equitable and effective response to this pressing global issue.”
Kerr’s secondary division winning essay also touched on the involvement of women and girls in the fight against climate change saying, “One potential means of accomplishing this goal is through training women as solar technicians or energy auditors, enabling them to become more involved in engineering and construction while simultaneously creating job opportunities and decreasing greenhouse gas emissions.”
Kerr also walked away with the prestigious honour of Inti Environmental Youth Ambassador.
Both Cabinet ministers said they were not only impressed, but impressed upon those in attendance how important it would be in the future for those who are students today to lead during climate crisis in the future. Researchers have repeatedly reported that the low-lying Bahamas is one of the most vulnerable places on the planet to be affected by climate change and the most severe predictions is that entire islands could one day be swallowed by rising seas.
“The possibility of us being climate refugees is real,” said the environment minister “And so the more informed, the more educated, the better equipped and empowered they (students) will be enabling them to make decisions that may not be necessary to make now, but important for them in the future.”
Education State Minister Zane Lightbourne echoed a similar sentiment, declaring “it will be very important that generations behind us get it.”
According to Lightbourne, the newly named ambassador will become “a voice of our little country.”
Though only in 9th grade, Grand Bahama native Sarah Roker’s spectacular winning essay for the junior division highlighted how the further implementation renewable energy can bode well for islands like the one she calls home, particularly after the lessons learned from Hurricane Dorian.
“The country has abundant renewable energy resources, making it an ideal location for renewable energy production. The economic benefits of renewable energy implementation further underscore the great importance of transitioning to renewable and sustainable energy in The Bahamas.”
Inti Corporation Ltd. is the on-the-ground facilitator of two solar farms under construction on Grand Bahama that will produce up to nine megawatts of power to be added to Grand Bahama Power Company. Ground was broken in March on the project that is expected to build resilience for Grand Bahama power supply, reduce dependency on and expenses associated with importation of foreign oil, including cost of foreign exchange.