BEA bows out after championing environmental message for five years
After five years the Bermuda Environmental Alliance is closing down and will complete its work early in the new year.
With a tougher economic climate making it increasingly difficult to secure funding, the BEA has decided to fulfil its final commitments and bow out. However, its online presence will continue with its website remaining a resource for all to access, featuring many educational environmental video clips that were the mainstay of the BEA’s work.
Since forming in 2009, the BEA has highlighted environmental aspects of the Island with TV documentaries and its ‘Bermuda — Nature’s Jewel’ DVD, of which hundreds have been distributed freely to schoolchildren across the Island as an educational aid. It covered topics that included rainwater catchment, Bermuda’s caves, cahows and Cooper’s Island nature reserve.
The organisation also worked with businesses through its ‘Let’s Slash the Trash’ initative to promote environmental practices in the workplace.
The BEA holds its final gala on Friday to celebrate its achievements and thank supporters. Governor George Ferguson and Discovery Channel Canada president Paul Lewis will be among the guests at the event at the Grotto Bay Resort.
BEA chairman David Ezekiel is proud of what the organisation has achieved. “I believe in addition to raising awareness across the community on environmental issues, we will be leaving behind a legacy that will benefit the Island well into the future. Our Climate Change series, which featured on the Discovery Channel Canada not only reached millions of Canadians and showed them a different side of Bermuda, but also attracted the attention of major organisations such as the National Wildlife Federation,” he said.
“The BEA set the standard in using visual media to get the environmental messages across to all Bermudians, especially the youth. Hopefully the work we did will leave a lasting impression.”
Mr Ezekiel praised BEA executive director Sangita Iyer for her “commitment, expertise and passion for the environment”.
Philip Butterfield, deputy chairman, said: “The BEA has fulfilled its mission to provide video based media which educates Bermudians about their environment, also, we have provided training to businesses enabling them to be environmentally prudent on issues such as waste management.
“In addition, the BEA has introduced Ecco Schools to Bermuda — all achievements which have made the Board very proud. I’ve enjoyed my association with my colleagues and am proud of our accomplishments.”
Discovery Channel Canada president Mr Lewis said the BEA’s series of documentary shorts, which the channel aired in 2011, were well received by viewers. He felt that was due in a large part to the storytelling skills of presenter Ms Iyer. He added the shows had “opened a door for our audience”.
BEA executive director Ms Iyer, who worked as a broadcast journalist in Bermuda between 2005 and 2008 before helping set up the BEA. She said: “If I had to point to one main reason for ending our work, I’d say fundraising, because we were having to spend more than 50 percent of our time in this area, rather than focus on our unique mission.”
Ms Iyer will continue to work in the environmental field and hopes to contribute to “climate change communication on an international basis”. She is soon to travel to India to produce a film on the plight of Indian elephants, and currently writes on environmental issues for The Huffington Post. She is also pursuing discussions with Discovery Channel Canada and another broadcast network in Toronto, Canada.
She thanked the BEA’s sponsors, including HSBC, BF&M, Gorham’s, Fidelity, Validus and Grotto Bay, for their support over the years, as well as the organisation’s board members. She said: “The most rewarding aspect for me was visiting schools and seeing the curious eyes of children brighten up when they watched our films and engaged in lively debates with me.
“I’m also truly grateful for the support of some of the school principals and commitment from science heads in ensuring the DVDs are being used as an educational aid, and I hope they continue to do so as the information is timeless.”
The BEA will debut its new documentary film ‘Ripple Effects: From the Arctic to Bermuda’ at Friday’s gala. The film was made with assistance from the Bermuda Institute of Ocean Sciences.
The BEA website is www.bermuda-bea.org
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