Premier shares island’s plan for sustainability
The island’s past, present and future environmental protection initiatives took centre stage at an international climate conference yesterday.
Delivering a keynote speech at COP28’s island innovation forum in Dubai, David Burt said that island nations such as Bermuda had more to lose to climate change — a reality that forced them to act swiftly.
The Premier added that although Bermuda was small, it could still play a large role in preserving the environment.
Mr Burt said: “In Bermuda, sustainability is in our DNA. We are an island 700 miles away from the nearest landmass, with no access to fresh water.
“Our centuries-old relationship is with the ocean, to our white stone roofs that collect fresh water every day.
“And we continue to do our part and work to contribute to our planet.”
The Premier was speaking at the Island of Hope conference at COP28, an international meeting where countries from around the world discuss the importance of environmental stewardship and ways to protect it.
The Island of Hope conference brought together leaders of island nations to share the efforts they have made to contribute to environmental sustainability.
Mr Burt highlighted Bermuda’s use of solar farms and solar panels on its government buildings, as well as the waste-to-energy plant at Tynes Bay.
He said that Bermuda spearheaded the Hamilton Declaration in 2011 to protect the Sargasso Sea, and since then, seven governments, including those of the United States and Britain, have signed the protection document.
The Premier also highlighted the Bermuda Institute of Ocean Sciences as being an internationally recognised centre for ocean sciences and atmospheric research.
He said: “One of their most important work is the Bermuda Atlantic Time Series, or Bats, which has collected data on the ocean’s physical, biological and chemical properties since 1988.
“This research has proved invaluable in ocean and atmospheric science by providing data that helps us better understand global climate change, and the ocean’s responses to variations in the earth’s atmosphere.”
Calling Bermuda “the custodian of the largest maritime area in the world”, Mr Burt said that Bermuda had introduced plans to restore mangroves and seagrass beds for the sake of environmental diversity.
He said that the Bermuda Ocean Prosperity Programme, launched in 2018, promised to develop a Marine Spatial Plan to protect 20 per cent of Bermuda’s waters as a “no-take” replenishment zone for fish.
He added that the Government had plans for a tree-planting strategy to remove invasive species and improve biodiversity.
Mr Burt also noted Bermuda’s ability to affect climate change through its central position in the insurance sector.
He explained: “As we have with tropical storms, wildfire, flood and other climate-driven insured risks, Bermuda can play a crucial role in helping high-risk regions bolster their financial resilience to the rising tide of climate peril and become the world’s climate-risk capital.”
Mr Burt added: “This is not a business strategy. This is part of our tangible and comprehensive commitment to the global fight against climate change that Bermuda has been leading for some time.
Walter Roban, the Minister of Home Affairs, highlighted Bermuda’s environmental strategies that have been in play for several years.
He told the crowd there were “quite a few things over the years” that would tackle problems such as climate change.
Mr Roban, who is also the Deputy Premier, also discussed future environmental goals for the island, including the Bermuda Ocean Prosperity Plan, enacting stricter clean-air laws and the goal to have an all-electric public bus fleet.
Mr Roban said: “We have a great responsibility, and we want to fulfil that responsibility.
“One of the things that we all must think about is how those islands, including the one that I’m from, the Overseas Territories and islands around the world can be given tasks that we are willing to fulfil — unlike some of our industrialised nation friends, who seem to be unwilling to fulfil what is their responsibility as the chief polluters.”
Mr Burt will return to the island tomorrow, while Mr Roban is back on Sunday.