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BEST looks ahead to collaboration

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Valuable natural resource: the marine environment (File photograph)
Kim Smith, the executive director of the Bermuda Environmental Sustainability Taskforce (Photograph supplied)

An environmental group said yesterday it wanted to work more closely with other organisations as part of a new strategy to help protect nature.

The Bermuda Environmental Sustainability Taskforce added it had also reorganised its management structure and looked at how to work more efficiently.

Kim Smith, the organisation’s executive director, said: “There are nearly 50 environmental groups of various sizes in Bermuda.

“Groups of people trying to make a difference and perhaps feeling they are alone in the fight.

“BEST wants to find ways to join forces with these groups to gain greater impact in resolving environmental issues, including influencing policy, so we are not putting out the same fires year after year and therefore able to focus on new ones.”

A spokeswoman added: “When BEST’s founder and driving force, the much-loved and respected Stuart Hayward, stepped down due to poor health more than a year ago, the organisation quickly recognised the need to evolve its original practices.

“A strong sense of direction had become challenging without its founder and BEST discovered many characteristics of the organisation no longer worked.

“Demand for BEST’s work continued to increase while the staff of one, along with their dedicated volunteers, were finding it difficult to meet the growing demand, especially against the backdrop of dwindling donor funding.”

The spokeswoman said BEST planned to hold “exploratory” talks with other groups this month.

She added: “Best looks forward to participating in a more united effort, making Bermuda’s delicate environment a priority for all residents.”

BEST looked at its strengths and weaknesses and, in January, with the guidance of expert Janet Ferguson, started a strategic planning process.

The spokeswoman said: “Little did anyone expect the arrival of the Covid-19 pandemic and while Government restrictions gave the organisation time to pause, the pandemic emphasised the critical need to protect the environment and do things differently.

“Out of the strategic planning process, several insights emerged, first and foremost being BEST’s desire to evolve into an organisation that works more collaboratively with other environmental partners in the community.

“Consideration was also given to the organisational structure to ensure more efficient and effective operations, while carrying forward the best of its founder’s legacy.”

BEST’s vision is “a sustainable Bermuda for future generations”.

The charity said it aimed to inspire “greater value and appreciation of the environment and an understanding of how critically human behaviour impacts it”.

The spokeswoman added: “A healthy environment is not only vital to our survival, but the survival of all living things.

“BEST believes we must learn to exist in harmony with nature, not in competition with it.

“Relentless development in Bermuda, the loss of open space and the island’s natural resources – the marine environment being one of our most valuable – along with the effects of climate change, seriously threaten our existence.

“We must come together to mitigate the effects of these threats as swiftly as we can.

“Safeguarding arable land and open spaces, protecting our marine environment and resources, reducing emissions and investing in green technology, ridding the island of single-use plastics, and working with the community and Government to ensure our community is committed to greener solutions across the board are critical.”

Gail Miller, the chairwoman of BEST, said: “This is not a small order.

“While BEST has been very active working on solutions with many successes in the past, its resources are overwhelmed, especially with respect to climate change, which like the Covid-19 pandemic, although different from climate change, are both global crises that require countries to work together to find solutions.”

The organisation is recruiting board members and volunteers with appropriate skills.

*To find out more about the talks, or to get in touch about board or volunteer positions, e-mail Kim Smith, the executive director, at office@best.org.bm.

For more information on Best’s work, visitwww.best.org.bm

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Published November 06, 2020 at 8:00 am (Updated November 06, 2020 at 8:59 am)

BEST looks ahead to collaboration

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