Bahamian Leaders Rally for Blue Economy at the 2024 Forum For Impact

The 2024 Forum For Impact, held from May 22nd to May 24th on Grand Bahama Island, brought together global experts thought leaders to discuss the advancement of social, economic, and environmental sustainability. The event, significantly sponsored by the Grand Bahama Port Authority (GBPA) and Invest Grand Bahama, featured prominent Bahamian leaders including Attorney General Ryan Pinder, Michael Halkitis, Minister of Economic Affairs, Sarah St. George, and Nakira Wilchcombe, who each highlighted the critical importance of bolstering the blue economy in the face of climate challenges.

 

During brief closing remarks for the event, in addition to acknowledging the importance of the event, relevant to global conversations and action plans around the climate crisis, Sarah St. George, Acting Chairman of GBPA, highlighted the Port Authority’s role and leadership in protecting the environment but also fostering environmentally conscious industrial innovation. She spoke candidly regarding the nearly $2 billion in new investments with the Weller Group and Six Sense Development, setting Grand Bahama as a paragon of sustainable industrial practices. St. George also heralded the commissioning of nation’s first 9MW Utility Scale Solar Farm, underscoring its role in diversifying the island’s energy mix and reinforcing sustainable practices. “This initiative marks a significant step in reducing our carbon footprint and showcases our commitment to renewable energy,” she emphasized, adding that these investment amongst numerous others, provided increased liquidity to support future investment in Blue Economy initiatives.

 

St. George also expressed pride in the fact that this was the second consecutive year Forum For Impact chose Grand Bahama as its venue, recognizing the efforts of her partner, Rupert Hayward, GBPA Director and Co-Founder of Blue Action Labs, in attracting the prestigious gathering to Grand Bahama. 

GATHERING FOR IMPACT: Acting Chairman of The Grand Bahama Port Authority Limited Sarah St. George (right) is pictured with Attorney General of The Bahamas Sen. The Hon. Ryan Pinder (Center) following his presentation on the Blue Economy at the closing of the 2024 Forum for Impact. Also pictured is Lynden Michael Dean, CEO of Equity Investment Fund Services Ltd. (left). (photo courtesy of Michel Lynden Dean)

During his keynote address, Attorney General Ryan Pinder focused on the economic and ecological significance of the nation’s marine resources, which he identified as amongst the largest in the world and would be an integral part of The Bahamas’ strategy of leveraging economic value for the country, through the innovative use of blue carbon credits and a significant $60 million investment from the Inter-American Development Bank aimed at bolstering sustainable development across The Bahamas. “Our vast seagrass beds and marine ecosystems are pivotal not just for biodiversity but as economic assets through blue carbon initiatives,” Pinder explained, highlighting the government’s commitment to integrating these natural resources into a sustainable economic framework.

 

Nakira Wilchcombe, Vice President of Building and Development Services at GBPA, also spoke as a panelist during the Forum on the topic of Sustainable Tourism, which also included Madhvi Shukla Development Manager, Weller Development Partners and James Farrah, Head of Development Americas, Six Senses. Wilchcombe discussed the strategic implications of attracting sustainable investment to Grand Bahama. “The Grand Bahama Port Authority, Limited is certainly proud that Six Senses has chosen Grand Bahama as a destination for its brand, along with the Weller Group.  They are solid leaders in the sustainable space, and it is hoped that we can attract similar investors/developers to truly put Grand Bahama on the map for Sustainable Development.”  

 

Echoing the sentiments of St. George, Wilchcombe also referenced the nearly $2B in new investment activity currently underway on Grand Bahama, and their contribution to job creation, entrepreneurial opportunities, as well as attracting and encouraging Grand Bahamians to return home. “There are Bahamians living abroad who are doing great things regionally and internationally; we also want them to be a part of the new birth that we envision.  We want sustainable tourism and concepts to not only exist within the doors of the properties that are developed but to resonate into the community, with all pillars working together to bring sustainable practices to the fore,” Wilchcombe stated.

 

The 2024 Forum For Impact served as a critical platform to push for a collaborative approach to environmental stewardship and economic innovation. Their collective message emphasized the need for global cooperation and innovative financial strategies to safeguard and enhance the marine resources that are vital to The Bahamas’ future. As The Bahamas faces environmental challenges, its leaders stand as beacons of resilience and innovation, urging the global community to join in supporting and advancing the blue economy. ###

SUSTAINABLE TOURISM: Nakira Wilchcombe, Vice President of Building & Development Services at GBPA (left), participated in the Sustainable Tourism dialogue during the 2024 Forum For Impact. Pictured from left to right: Nakira Wilchcombe, James Farrah, Head of Development Americas, Six Senses, Madhvi Shukla, Development Manager, Weller Development Partners and Michael Mehan, Co-Founder, Forum For Impact.

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