Environment Minister Romauld Ferreira.
ENVIRONMENT and Housing Minister Romauld Ferreira hosted a virtual meeting for the media to discuss the recently passed Biological Resources and Traditional Knowledge Protection and Sustainable Use Act, 2020.
The new law protects the country’s natural resources, and will ensure that Bahamian natural assets will no longer be exploited by foreign interests.
Mr Ferreira said that the Act was a vital piece of legislation in order to ensure that Bahamians would not be disenfranchised by people who would, as has happened in the past, exploited the country’s natural resources under the guise of research and other reasons.
“For too long, our country’s resources have been exploited and we can no longer allow that to happen. We are aware that this undertaking will involve ‘buy in’ from everyone in Bahamian society, as a cross-section of society will need to partner together to ensure its success. That is why we thought that it was of utmost importance to engage the media to ensure that just and fair information is disseminated to the public.”
The Biological Resources and Traditional Knowledge Protection and Sustainable Use Act, 2020 ushers in a new management regime of the country’s natural resources. This new Act will ensure that biodiversity-rich countries obtain a fair share of benefits arising from use of their genetic resources. New protocols have also been established to ensure that the objectives of the Act are met.
Director of Environmental Planning and Protection Rochelle Newbold gave an overview of the Act itself, explaining that it is targeted at foreign interests who use several means to take advantage of the country’s resources, then go on to substantially benefit from their research, never sharing those benefits with the country. She cautioned Bahamians to be vigilant, especially when they are conducting tours with researchers, who claim to be “visitors.”
“We have to be good stewards of our country’s resources and not allow others to take advantage of us,” she said. “Even though you may have a boat and are taking the researcher around to conduct their study, you must pay attention and report any suspicious activity that you see. This is our country and we need to protect it for ourselves, and for future generations.”