Representatives of all departments under the umbrella of the Ministry of the Environment came together Monday for a planning session for the first Environmental Partnership Forum to be held September 29 at Sheraton Cable Beach Resort and a Meet the Minister’s Public Forum on October 2.

Addressing the preparatory meeting held at the Conference Centre of the Royal Bahamas Police Force, Minister of the Environment the Hon. Earl Deveaux reminded participants of the importance of the Bahamian public’s cooperation in performing their tasks.

“If we do not engage the Bahamian public and if we do not relentlessly ensure that the Bahamian public accepts responsibility for the grime, filth and waste that populate our national flora and fauna and our marine environment we will fail and we will fail miserably,” he said.

“People have to take responsibility and be forced to take responsibility for the amount of littering that takes place. People have to take responsibility for the amount of corruption that infuses many of our approval agencies. You cannot have a big, nice plan for sub-division approval if the process is going to be betrayed by bribery, slip-shod work and corruption,” said Minister Deveaux.

The Minister outlined specific projects he has in mind for all units and departments, within the Ministry including the implementation of a national waste disposal and cleanliness campaign, waste-to-energy production with recycling and reuse, a new and updated building standard which takes into consideration drainage, flood planes, elevation, and impact on mangroves and wetlands and research to evaluate the impact of climate change on Bahamian tourism, rising sea levels, beach erosion, reef systems and other climate sensitive resources.

Minister Deveaux also foreshadowed the establishment of a transparent, efficient and streamlined impact assessment and management process, safe navigational channels throughout The Bahamas, an efficient docks’ committee, clean harbors and the conversion of The Bahamas to an energy mix which results in greater energy security through the use of renewable resources.

A sound energy policy, the provision of potable water for every community in The Bahamas the safeguarding of ground water resources, the enactment of a forestry act and the establishment of a Bahamas maritime institute were also among initiatives highlighted by the Minister.

Of NGOs including Re-earth, BREEF, The Nature Conversancy and Friends of the Environment, he said: “They provide you with a sharp edged focus to many of your decisions; they are your eyes and ears to many of the iniquities that occur in your country in places where you can’t see. See them as friends, welcome their participation and ensure that you welcome their advice and input in all the decisions that you make.”

In his remarks State Minister for the Environment Phenton Neymour said The Bahamas Electricity Corporation is reviewing proposals for renewable energy. Once reviewed, Minister Neymour said the public will be informed whether the requests are financially viable, technically viable and appropriate for the various locations they are being proposed for.

“What is critical to point out is that when it comes to renewable energy we must also recognize what is driving it, the fact that we must address climate change. The fact is that if we continue to consume petroleum products in the manner that we have one day the Bahamas may be under water,” said Minister Neymour.

“We also have to address the fact that when we talk about renewable energy we have to address energy security for our country – the ability for The Bahamas to provide energy for its people if we are affected by the supply of petroleum products. These are driving the charge for renewable energy and not necessarily the price of petroleum products. That message has to be conveyed. Renewable energy is not always the cheapest form of energy but it is an avenue to secure energy for our country and at the same time ensure that we protect our environment,” he added.