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Economic Aspects | Natural Resource Aspects | Institutional Aspects | Social Aspects | Bahamas

NATURAL RESOURCE ASPECTS OF SUSTAINABLE DEVELOPMENT IN THE BAHAMAS

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AGRICULTURE

Decision-Making: Coordinating Bodies

No information is available.

Decision-Making: Legislation and Regulations

Given the competing demands for limited land resources including urban use, agriculture, forestry, tourism and conservation, legislation regulating the import and use of pesticides is being developed. Forestry legislation has been drafted under which extensive areas, including mangrove forests, would be declared "conservation forests".

Decision-Making: Strategies, Policies and Plans

A national land use policy is being formulated. Agricultural production is being increased through more efficient use of land and increasing the amount of land under cultivation in a strategy aimed at a combination of import substitution and increased share of export markets. The short and long term objectives of the planned agricultural expansion are to increase export earnings (thereby continuing to diversify the economy), to increase employment opportunities and to achieve greater self sufficiency in food supplies. Much of this expansion will be in fruit crops (especially citrus) and vegetables for export. Continued expansion in livestock agriculture is also expected but primarily for the local market. An expansion in food processing activity is also envisaged, in parallel with the expansion in production.

The Bahamas recognizes that agricultural expansion must be made compatible with the maintenance of biodiversity. This will require the creation of buffer zones and limitations on the use of pesticides. Lease agreements encourage environmentally friendly patterns of land use by offering incentives to leave shelter belts and not to cultivate areas of unusual biodiversity. Particularly important are (a) the protection of wetlands, where adjacent to agriculture areas, and (b) the protection of freshwater resources from contamination by fertilizer nutrients, pesticides and animal wastes. Since much of the projected agricultural expansion will depend on good quality water for irrigation, it is a matter of self-interest for the agricultural sector to protect water resources. Already, agricultural land, and land for forestry and conservation, are being set aside.

Decision-Making: Major Groups Involvement

No information is available.

Programmes and Projects

Given the fact that The Bahamas is located in the hurricane belt, contingency plans with infrastructural support are being developed.

Status

The Bahamas is located in the hurricane belt and is vulnerable to their devastating effects. In 1992 Hurricane Andrew caused severe salt intrusion on one of the major farming areas. More recently, heavy rains following Hurricane Lili in 1996 led to flooding of land with consequent leaching of fertilizer and delay in replanting. In addition, tornadoes, waterspouts, droughts, fire, flooding and other disasters, periodically plague the agricultural sector.

Given the permeability of the soils, and indeed of the parent rock, agro-chemicals are readily leached into the freshwater lenses, which supply water needed for agricultural, industrial and domestic uses.

Challenges

Additional requirements include institutional strengthening through improved training, data management and research capability; review and introduction of comprehensive natural resource legislation and management programmes, especially in forestry and wildlife; monitoring of compliance with provisions in agricultural leases; introduction of comprehensive pesticide legislation, with a certification programme for pesticide applicators; strengthening and modernization of marketing, communications and transportation infrastructure; and introduction of a comprehensive programme for the control of exotic plants and animals. Immediate requirements include the upgrading of facilities and training in all areas; the collection of data on feral dogs, cats, pigs and their effect on habitat and biodiversity depletion; training in pesticide monitoring and evaluation; and a review and strengthening of legislation to improve plant and animal quarantine so as to exclude, as far as possible, exotic pests and diseases, and to protect endangered and threatened species.

Given the fragility of the Bahamian ecosystem, the most challenging problem facing sustainable development is a comprehensive programme of human resource training. Aging farmers and low entry level participation threaten the long-term viability of the sector; especially in the absence of outreach programmes to adopt new technologies and to attract new and younger entrants to the sector.

Capacity-building, Education, Training and Awareness-raising

No information is available.

Information

No information is available.

Research and Technologies

No scientists, engineers and technicians are directly engaged in research and experimental development efforts. It is estimated that on an annual basis five to ten persons assist indirectly in activities sponsored and funded by academic non-national efforts in various endeavours covering the marine and terrestrial environment. Recent developments elsewhere in bio-technology, including tissue culture and rapid propagation techniques, will be adopted here in order to preserve endangered species and develop sustainable agricultural programmes. Agricultural research will be strengthened to improve service to the agricultural community. Better transportation and communications among the dispersed islands will be needed for the full development of the Family Islands in order to facilitate access to markets. The thin soil and limestone substrate increases land preparation costs and will be addressed by research and the development of appropriate technologies.

Financing

No information is available.

Cooperation

The Bahamas has recently become affiliated with the Inter-American Institute for Cooperation on Agriculture (IICA). A tentative collaborative work programme is still being developed, but may include an analysis of the agricultural sector, a youth programme and assistance with the establishment of farmers' organisations. A project proposal has been submitted to FAO for an analysis of agricultural policy and legislation.

 

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This information was provided by the Government of The Bahamas to the fifth session of the United Nations Commission on Sustainable Development. Last update: 1 April 1997.

For country reports on Plant Genetic Resources, click here.
To access the FAOSTAT Data Base for information by country, item, element and year, click here:
Click here to link to the Biosafety Information Network and Advisory Service (BINAS), a service of the United Nations Industrial Development Organization (UNIDO), which monitors global developments in regulatory issues in biotechnology.
Click here to link to Country and Sub-regional Information on Plant Genetic Resources of the Food and Agricultural Organization of the United Nations.
Click here to go to Web Site of the Codex Alimentarius Commission, which includes information on the Codex Alimentarius and the Joint FAO/WHO Food Standards Programme.
Click here to access the Web Site of the Consultative Group on International Agricultural Research (CGIAR).
Click here to access the sixteen international agricultural research centers that are members of the CGIAR.

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ATMOSPHERE

Decision-Making: Coordinating Bodies

The Bahamas Environment, Science and Technology Commission (BEST) is responsible for coordinating activities in this sector. The following individual Commission members are responsible for day-to-day monitoring: Departments of Environmental Health Services, Fisheries, and the Ministries of Transport and Public Works. They are full-fledged members of the National Coordination Mechanism for Sustainable Development. A special Climate Change Committee has been established by BEST, headed by a Commission member, to implement the provisions of UNFCCC.

The BEST Commission's Committee on Environmental Safety is vested with the responsibility of investigating the entire issue of emissions and making recommendations for national policy and legislation. An Environmental Court has been established where those found guilty of pollution and related acts will be prosecuted and heavily fined.

Decision-Making: Legislation and Regulations 

The Government of The Bahamas ratified both the Montreal Protocol and the London and the Copenhagen Amendments on 4 May 1993. The latest report to the Montreal Protocol Secretariat was prepared in 1996. The United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change was signed in 1992 and ratified in 1994. National legislation to protect the atmosphere has not yet been reviewed in the light of Agenda 21.

In the energy production sector, priority is given to the rehabilitation and modernization of power systems and the use of EIA. In the electric power sector, a review has been undertaken of both current energy supply mixes and feasibility of energy sources. There is a punitive tax structure in place to encourage the purchase of more energy efficient vehicles of less than 2.5 litre engines. This is an indirect energy emissions-related tax.

Decision-Making: Strategies, Policies and Plans

The Government gives very high priority to the use of environmental impact assessment for all developments. Environmental Audits are also accorded the highest priority. The Government promotes policies and programmes in the areas of energy efficiency, environmentally sound and efficient transportation, industrial pollution control, sound land use practices, sound management of marine resources and management of toxic and other hazardous wastes.

High priority in the transport sector is given to the use of safe technologies. Since the United Nations Conference on Environment and Development in 1992, the Government has tried to expand and improve the performance and safety of the mass transportation system.

Since The Bahamas is not a net emitter of greenhouse gases, there is no need to develop or modify land or marine based practice in this regard.The Bahamas, however, does support conservation and the preservation of its marine and land resources as is evident in the creation of The Bahamas National Trust and the extensive marine and land park system. Policy and procedures are being developed relative to the phase-out of CFCs or other ozone-depleting substances.

Decision-Making: Major Groups Involvement

No information is available.

Programmes and Projects

As a result of decisions taken at the Second Conference of the Parties to UNFCCC, a GEF funded project has been initiated, enabling The Bahamas to fulfil its commitments to UNFCCC. A national inventory of greenhouse gas emissions will be undertaken by conducting a stocktaking and inventory exercise augmented by the collection of background information. Further, the project is expected to assist in the identification of options to meet the objectives of the Convention and the preparation of a National Plan and a National Strategy for the Convention in The Bahamas. Finally it will produce the initial national communication to the Conference of the Parties. It is also envisaged that the status of The Bahamas, as a small island developing state vulnerable to climate change, will be highlighted.

The Government has established and strengthened early warning systems and response mechanisms with particular reference to hurricanes. Due to financial constraints, there is no early warning system or response mechanism for transboundary air pollution resulting from industrial accidents or natural disasters.

Status

The Bahamas contributes little to the global net release of greenhouse gases but, like all small states, is severely threatened from the possible effects of climate change. Rising temperatures and sea level followed by floods, coastal flooding and erosion as well as the projected increase in the number and intensity of tropical cyclones are of particular concern given that 80% of The Bahamas is within five feet of mean sea level. There is also concern regarding loss of corals by bleaching and heat stress.

Challenges

No information is available.

Capacity-building, Education, Training and Awareness-raising

No information is available.

Information

No information is available.

Research and Technologies

In the area of environment and transport, only some ad hoc observations of emissions have been carried out. Studies have been undertaken on air pollution and ozone layer depletion, the most recent being the 1995/96 Bahamas Ozone Country Study.

Financing

See under Cooperation..

Cooperation

The Government has received support and assistance from GEF/UNDP for enabling activities regarding the UNFCCC in the amount of US$189,000. The Bahamas is participating in the OAS-Caribbean--Adaptation to Climate Change Project (CPACC) and might allocate US$ 300,000 - 500,000 to it.

The Bahamas cooperates closely with the United Nations on the scientific basis for decision-making, promotion of sustainable development, prevention of stratospheric ozone depletion and transboundary atmospheric pollution. For the promotion of sustainable development, it works closely with the Organization of American States (OAS). The Bahamas sits as a member of the United Nations Commission on Sustainable Development.

 

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This information was provided by the Government of The Bahamas to the fifth and sixth sessions of the United Nations Commission on Sustainable Development. Last update: 4 June 1998.

Click here for national information from the Web site of the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change.
Click here for information on the OAS CPACC:
For the access to the Web Site of the Ozone Secretariat, click here:

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BIODIVERSITY

Decision-Making: Coordinating Bodies

No information is available.

Decision-Making: Legislation and Regulations 

The Convention on Biological Diversity was signed in 1992 and ratified in 1993. The latest report was submitted in 1996. The Bahamas also ratified the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora, in 1979. The latest report was submitted in 1996.

The Bahamas Government has made the submission of EIAs a mandatory requirement for all projects which are likely to have significant adverse effects on biological diversity.

Natural resource protection legislative initiatives and action go back for generations, accelerating during and after World War II. From 1959, the Bahamas began setting aside major land and seabed areas to guarantee the survival of its most critically threatened or endangered species in conjunction with a statutorily created Bahamas National Trust and, since then, there have been no known extinctions. Existing legislation protecting wildlife includes the Wild Animal Fisheries Act and the Bahamas National Trust Act. A list of all Bahamian legislation relating to environmental issues is provided under the section on Integrated Decision-Making.

The Bahamas is taking appropriate measures to enforce regulatory provisions and prohibit trade in specimens in violation of the regulations contained in CITES. In 1995, a total of 73 import permits were issued, 58 of these for birds (principally parrots, macaws and cockatoos) and 15 for orchids. Also, 47 export permits were issued. Of these, 12 were for research samples (feathers or blood samples from turtles or iguanas) and 17 for exports of conch meat or products and shells.

Decision-Making: Strategies, Policies and Plans

Considerable progress is being made in the development of a National Biodiversity Strategy and Action Plan, which will be completed in 1997.

Decision-Making: Major Groups Involvement

NGO activities have helped to create a framework for conserving and managing the use of many forms of terrestrial and marine biodiversity.

Programmes and Projects

A Biodiversity Data Management Project is at present actively engaged in identifying data on all components of biodiversity.

The Bahamas is a participant in two UNEP projects funded by GEF, namely the Biodiversity Data Management Project (for which it has received a grant of $250,000) and the National Biodiversity Strategy and Action Plan Project (a grant of $150,000).

Status

Over the past five years, there has been increasing recognition of the significance of biodiversity to The Bahamas. This was originally viewed as the creation of national parks for conservation of wild species of plants and animals. However, many sectors of the country, both public and private, have come to realise its importance in the tourism, agriculture, fisheries and forestry sectors. Biodiversity has also been recognized as a principal source of food, especially on the Family Islands, in the form of substance harvesting.

Challenges

No information is available.

Capacity-building, Education, Training and Awareness-raising

The Government is taking steps to coordinate monitoring and widen public awareness of the economic values and importance of managing biodiversity sustainably so as to ensure continued use. National Land and Marine Parks (Protected Areas) have been established but poaching remains a problem. Not only is the poaching of fish a continuing concern, but also the poaching of snakes and iguanas for the pet trade. Orchids are also being depleted by collectors. The Government is active in taking steps to coordinate monitoring and regulate activities which impact on biodiversity. It is seeking to widen public awareness of the value and importance of biodiversity.

Information

In addition to reports submitted to the Commission on Sustainable Development and the United Nations Development Programme, The Bahamas Government will submit to the Conference of Parties of the Biological Diversity Convention in early 1998 its first national country report covering measures taken relative to the implementation of the Convention.

Research and Technologies

The Government is also exploring possibilities through which The Bahamas may derive further economic benefits through the sustainable use of biodiversity. For example, it proposes to develop a biotechnology industry based on the use of its biological resources. Towards this end the Government of The Bahamas established The Bahamas Environment, Science and Technology Commission (BEST) in 1995.

With the support of a GEF/UNEP grant of $150,000, The Bahamas completed the Biodiversity Country Study in 1995 with significant upgrading and revision in 1996.

Financing

See under Cooperation.

Cooperation

In addition to the grants mentioned above,  The Bahamas has received a grant of $300,000 from GEF/OAS for its participation in the Caribbean Adaptation to Climate Change Project which monitors coral reefs and sea level rise.

The Bahamas has been selected by UNEP as one of ten countries to serve as a model for the implementation of the Biodiversity Convention and for the development of pilot studies on biodiversity with the College of The Bahamas.

 

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This information was provided by the Government of The Bahamas to the fifth and sixth sessions of the United Nations Commission on Sustainable Development. Last update: 4 June 1998.

For access to the Web Site of the Convention on Biological Diversity, click here:
For access to the Web Site of the CITES Convention, click here:
For the Web Site of the CMS Convention, click here:
For the Web Site of the Convention on the Protection of the World's Cultural and Natural Heritage, click here:
For the country-by-country, Man in the Biosphere On-Line Query System, click here:
Click here to link to the Biosafety Information Network and Advisory Service (BINAS), a service of the United Nations Industrial Development Organization (UNIDO), which monitors global developments in regulatory issues in biotechnology.
Click here to go to the Web Site of UNEP's International Register on Biosafety.
Click here for the International Centre for Genetic Engineering and Biotechnology Biosafety WebPages

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DESERTIFICATION AND DROUGHT

Decision-Making: Coordinating Bodies

No information is available

Decision-Making: Legislation and Regulations  

No information is available

Decision-Making: Strategies, Policies and Plans  

No information is available

Decision-Making: Major Groups Involvement   

No information is available

Programmes and Projects   

No information is available

Status

The International Convention to Combat Desertification in Countries Experiencing Drought and/or Desertification Particularly in Africa has not been ratified.

Challenges

No information is available

Capacity-building, Education, Training and Awareness-raising

No information is available

Information

No information is available

Research and Technologies

No information is available

Financing

No information is available

Cooperation

No information is available

 

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This information was provided by the Government of The Bahamas to the fifth session of the United Nations Commission on Sustainable Development. Last update: 1 April 1997.

For access to the Web Site of the Convention to Combat Desertification and Drought, click here:

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ENERGY

Decision-Making: Coordinating Bodies

No information is available.

Decision-Making: Legislation and Regulations 

There is a punitive tax structure in place to encourage the purchase of more energy efficient vehicles of less than 2.5 litre engines. This is an indirect energy emissions-related tax.

Decision-Making: Strategies, Policies and Plans

In the energy production sector, priority is given to the rehabilitation and modernization of power systems and the use of environmental impact assessments.

Decision-Making: Major Groups Involvement

No information is available.

Programmes and Projects

No information is available.

Status

No information is available.

Challenges

No information is available.

Capacity-building, Education, Training and Awareness-raising

No information is available.

Information

No information is available.

Research and Technologies

In the electric power sector, a review has been undertaken of both current energy supply mixes and feasibility of energy sources.

Financing

No information is available.

Cooperation

No information is available.

 

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This information was provided by the Government of The Bahamas to the fifth session of the United Nations Commission on Sustainable Development. Last update: 1 April 1997.

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FORESTS

Decision-Making: Coordinating Bodies

No information is available.

Decision-Making: Legislation and Regulations 

Today, there is no specific forestry legislation in The Bahamas, but new forestry legislation will be introduced in 1997. Specific proposals recommended are: (a) appointment of a Conservation Officer, (b) formation of a system of inter-departmental liaison, (c) setting up of an Environmental Affairs Committee under the Ministry of Agriculture, and (d) establishment of a Cabinet Committee to supervise the phased development of a land use policy.

Decision-Making: Strategies, Policies and Plans

Until such time as the drafted legislation mentioned above is enacted, no effective management strategies can be implemented. It is recommended that a programme to protect, manage, and harvest forests on the basis of sustained yields be established. Whether the forests are then harvested for lumber or for pulpwood will be a matter of Government policy.

Decision-Making: Major Groups Involvement

No information is available.

Programmes and Projects

Financial and technical assistance for specific forestry development programmes can be sought from international and regional lending agencies as the Inernational Monetary Fund, the World Bank, the Global Environment Facility, the Convention on Biological Diversity, the InterAmerican Development Bank, and forestry conventions and protocols.

Status

Commercial felling of timber from the pine forests commenced in The Bahamas with the issuance of the first timber licence in 1906. Logging continued uninterrupted with subsequent licences up to 1974, when all licensed rights were relinquished to the Crown. After this period, natural regeneration occurred and there has been only local and sporadic felling in more recent years. Consideration is now being given to finalisation of a position regarding the implementation of the non-legally binding authoritative statement of principles, adopted by the UNCED, for a global consensus on the management, conservation and sustainable development of all types of forests.

Challenges

The absence of specific forestry legislation is the principal barrier to more effective and sustained development of forestry in The Bahamas.

A programme of selective thinning of pine forests is needed, as it is essential to maintain forest cover in designated areas to conserve and protect wildlife. This will entail the establishment of saw-mills. Saw-mill operation could be undertaken by the private sector, but felling would need to be monitored by a strong Forestry Department. Attention must also be given to the coppice lands.

More effective measures and approaches are often required for development of technical and multidisciplinary skills, forestry extension and public education, research capability and support, administrative structures and mechanisms, and dissemination of information and public relations.

Capacity-building, Education, Training and Awareness-raising

No information is available.

Information

No information is available.

Research and Technologies

No information is available.

Financing

Sustainable annual funding by the Government to the Forestry Unit is paramount to the success of the implementation of forestry development programmes and longevity of the natural forest resources.

Cooperation

Linkage and cooperation is established between The Bahamas Forestry Unit and Forestry Departments throughout the Caribbean and the Americas, the FAO Committee on Forestry, the Latin American and the Caribbean Forest Commission, the Commonwealth Forestry Association, the Standing Committee on Commonwealth Forestry, the Institute of Tropical Forestry, and the Oxford Forestry Institute, in various facets of forestry development.

 

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This information was provided by the Government of The Bahamas to the fifth session of the United Nations Commission on Sustainable Development. Last update: 1 April 1997.

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FRESHWATER

Decision-Making: Coordinating Bodies

The Bahamas Water and Sewerage Corporation is the government body responsible for coordinating water resource management and development. Its mandate covers Water Supply, Waste Water Treatment, Water Sector Conservation, Development, Management and National Policy Development in the Water Sector. There are no other bodies at the sub-national level.

Decision-Making: Legislation and Regulations 

The Government is developing a New Water Act and Promulgation Regulations to control the water sector. At present the General legislation and regulatory framework for water management is still theWater and Sewerage Corporation Act of 1976. The legislation covering the use of water in agriculture is the Agricultural Land Leases Water Supply Provision(s). For use by households it is the Water and Sewerage Corporation Act(1976) and the Building Control Regulations. A National Disaster Preparedness Office has been established in the Cabinet office. Neither floods nor droughts have, however, been identified as major national concerns.

Under the New Water Act, a National Water Resources Advisory Council will provide for participation of all major stakeholders in the decision-making process. This council will also deal with the resolution of conflicts surrounding water resource management and development.

The pricing policy being implemented by the Government for cost-recovery is a Punitive Rate Structure for industry and household use. There is no pricing policy in place for the use of water in agriculture. Approximately 85% and 50% of water costs are recovered through pricing in New Providence and the Family Islands respectively. The special needs of the poor are addressed through (1) Government subsidy and (2) pricing designed not to penalise the poor. Water is supplied free of charge in economically depressed areas.

In order to prevent the pollution of, and to conserve freshwater supplies, the government is undertaking the enactment of a new Water Act and the promulgation of Regulations to control the Water Sector.

Decision-Making: Strategies, Policies and Plans

No information is available.

Decision-Making: Major Groups Involvement

The private sector plays an important role in water supply expansion, water resources development is under concessionary arrangement with Government.

Programmes and Projects

No information is available.

Status

Groundwater resources: The quantified freshwater resources of thirteen of the larger islands of the Commonwealth comprise 28% of their total land area. The groundwater resources of the Commonwealth are comprised of the fresh, brackish, saline and hypersaline water found in the shallow and deep subsurface, and in the lakes and ponds that occur on the surface. The freshwater resources occur as three dimensional lens-shaped bodies which float on and overlie brackish and saline water. These lenses do not occur in subterranean lakes, rivers, or ponds. Groundwater permeates the rock and all its pores, fissures and interconnected cavities. More than 90% of the freshwater lenses are within five feet of the surface.

Water supplies: Groundwater resources in the Bahamas have always been easy to exploit, and regular usage dates back to the earliest settlers. Today, water is still privately obtained by bucket from shallow hand-dug wells; public supplies are obtained from mechanically cut trenches, pits and seasonal freshwater marshes.

Concerning water supplies, World Health Organization (WHO) Water Quality Guidelines are used to measure water quality. Persistent Organic Pollutants have not been identified as a concern in The Bahamas. There is capacity to treat approximately 20,000 m3 of waste water. The capacity for recycling waste water is less than 5,000 m3. Approximately 15% of urban sewerage is treated.

Eighty five percent of water is treated for drinking purposes and it is intended to increase this percentage to 100%.

Sewerage: In The Bahamas there are sewer collection systems serving approximately one fifth of the capital Nassau; on the other islands these are limited to a few small subdivisions and some private developments and hotels. Septic tanks are used most commonly on the major islands though these do not always conform to the Building Code and therefore may not function in the manner that they should. In the less developed areas pit latrines may be used and there are some places where direct discharge to the sea is still used as a means of disposing of wastes. The use of septic tanks is usually combined with a drain field or disposal wall. Where sewerage mains exist the wastes are normally treated to primary or secondary levels, and the effluent is then disposed of in a deep disposal well. Many different types of deep disposal wells are utilized discharging a wide variety of liquid wastes. The wells that are used to dispose of large volumes of effluent are normally cased down to about 200 metres and are open below this depth. Tourist areas usually include golf courses, and these require considerable volumes of irrigation water. In such situations the wastewater from the hotels is usually treated and reused on a nearby golf course. The waste disposal methods used in The Bahamas are presently far from satisfactory, and studies have shown that the groundwater underlying urbanized areas shows relatively high levels of pollution. There is also evidence of sea-water pollution, particularly in some enclosed harbours which are important tourist destinations or may be involved in the seafood industry.

Challenges

The Bahamas comprises several hundred low lying limestone islands which are well suited to, and heavily dependant on the tourism industry. Unfortunately water supplies and liquid waste disposal present serious problems in such an environment, and these have impacted on the economic development of the islands. Specific problem areas include the availability and distribution of freshwater resources. Water systems are difficult and costly to develop, and few residential communities can afford the full cost of water supplied by alternate methods such as reverse osmosis. Groundwater resources in this environment are also very prone to human abuse, and they are exceedingly vulnerable to pollution. Mistakes have been made which have resulted in serious long-term damage. Liquid and solid wastes are difficult to manage and dispose of, and appropriate technology needs to be applied where conventional methods are found to be unsatisfactory.

The low lying nature of the islands, and the narrow unsaturated zone between the groundwater and the surface, render the freshwater lenses (please refer to their explanation under 'status') highly susceptible to contamination by pollutants percolating down to the water table. Industrial pollutants, solid wastes and sewerage discharges in cesspools, septic tanks, pit latrines and disposal wells, endanger the purity of the water, and, when it is used without disinfection, poses a serious health hazard. Urban, agricultural and industrial encroachment into public wellfields poses an additional hazard. The lack of centralized wastewater treatment facilities results in approximately 90% of the residents using septic tanks. Along with the high number of private water supply wells, estimated at between 12,000 and 20,000, this makes the largest threat to water quality that of human origin.

The major constraints faced by the Government in reaching its objectives in the sector of groundwater ressources is the high cost of capital development in marginal water resource areas and the need to duplicate facilities across 30 inhabited islands.

The disposal of organic wastes and use of fertilizers, herbicides, and pesticides in addition to waste or spilled petroleum products and discharges from industrial and food processing operations impact water quality and are a cause of concern. Contaminated water from these sources drains directly to the water table as storm water runoff. These concerns are heightened in the environment as a result of a lack of controls, and the adequate regulation of drilling companies and the absence of appropriate groundwater regulations. Fuel and oil spills have become a common feature of groundwater contamination complaints, and the reported spills range in volume from several hundreds of gallons to one spill that leaked over a ten year period in excess of one million US gallons.

Because small island states find it difficult to have the necessary knowledge in the wide range disciplines that can impact on their sustained economic development, there is a need for international assistance in research and development.

Capacity-building, Education, Training and Awareness-raising

In order to prevent the pollution of, and to conserve freshwater supplies, the government is undertaking public education.

Information

The Bahamas Land Resources Study (BLRS) continues to be the benchmark evaluation of the country's natural resources, including its groundwater. With the assistance of the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) the Water and Sewerage Corporation has prepared a framework for the long-term sustainable development of these resources, and there is an ongoing need to upgrade these data and extend them to include non-potable water resources.

Information on the Water Sector is collected by The Bahamas Water and Sewerage Corporation on the agricultural, household and industrial sectors. The information is distributed through the World Health Organization.The Internet address is nbsbest@batelnet.bs

Research and Technologies

The specific target established for coverage of water supply and sanitation is 100%. In order to achieve these targets the technological needs include: a. For waste water treatment: Low Cost infrastructure development, small diameter sewers, cost effective wastewater treatment and management and waste disposal alternatives. b. For water purification: Reverse Osmosis Water Purification Technology.

In addition to on-going activities relative to the testing of water quality, quantity and distribution, loss, etc., research related to water management is conducted on an ad - hoc basis using interested research institutions and scientists. This research takes place in external universities in the United Kingdom and USA and receives external funding. The results are being used in planning and management of the Water Sector.

Financing

Bilateral funding is being sought to assist in the development of a regulatory framework in The Bahamas.

It is estimated that it would cost US$45 million in 1990 to achieve universal coverage of water supply in The Bahamas, and US$400 million in 1990 to ensure full coverage in terms of sewerage. The ratio between domestic expenditures for water resource management and development and external funds is approximately 3:1. The flow of external resources into water resource management and development in 1997 was as follows: Technical cooperation:US$2 million Loans:US$17 million Private loans:US$15 million.

Cooperation

The Bahamas participates in WMO's efforts in the water sector regionally and internationally. The Pan American Health Organization (PAHO) also assists in water quality and water resources issues.

 

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This information was provided by the Government of The Bahamas to the fifth and sixth sessions of the United Nations Commission on Sustainable Development. Last update: 4 June 1998.

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LAND MANAGEMENT

Decision-Making: Coordinating Bodies

The establishment of The Bahamas Environmental, Science and Technology Commission in 1995 and its subcommittee, the National Land Use Committee (NLUC) in 1996, are important developments affecting the management of land resources in The Bahamas. While the interdisciplinary composition of the NLUC allows for cross-sectoral discussions of land use issues, it is still a new unit and its role in formulating or influencing land use policy is still being refined. The introduction of Local Government throughout the country will also have a major effect on matters relating to land use.

Decision-Making: Legislation and Regulations 

Present legislation is relatively weak and does not provide a sufficiently strong backing for planning to be effective in The Bahamas. Related to this is the shortage and dispersal of qualified personnel responsible for the management of land resources. The new legislation being prepared seeks to redefine the meaning of the term "development" to include mining and engineering operations and, most notably, deforestation. Increased penalties have also been suggested for violations.

The use of Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA) reports to support development applications for large projects has increased over the past three years. Two key requirements to ensure the sustainable use of land resources are (a) an effective planning system which provides long and short-term frameworks for the allocation of land among competing uses, and (b) mechanisms to evaluate and monitor proposals for development. Planning at this level requires extensive databases, surveys and analysis and clear policy definition. These are areas which have been lacking in the Bahamas.

Decision-Making: Strategies, Policies and Plans

The Bahamas is seeking to formulate, with regional and international cooperation, comprehensive land-use plans, regulations and economic incentives to promote sustainable land use, improve land-tenure and administration systems and support reforestation programmes. While preparation of the comprehensive plan for the main island of New Providence has been deferred, it still remains a priority area for the Government.

Decision-Making: Major Groups Involvement

No information is available.

Programmes and Projects

Progress has been made with the introduction of a new Geographic Information System by the Ministry of Finance and Planning. In finding rational solutions to equip decision makers with information which would promote sustainable development in The Bahamas, it was recognised that GIS technology is the information system which may be utilised to manage a wide range of land resource/spatial applications. High national priority was therefore given to the development of an "Enterprise Wide G.I.S." in a multi-agency environment with technical assistance provided by the Inter-American Development Bank and funding and technical assistance provided by the Japanese Government.

The overall objective of The Bahamas National GIS Project is geared to strengthening the GIS Unit (anticipated new name: The GIS Centre) and to expanding the use of GIS technology in Government agencies. It was therefore decided that The Bahamas Government would proceed with the B.N.G.I.S. Project as a forerunner to an overall land use project. The problems that have mitigated against the effective guidance and control of the use of land have been identified as follows: weak town planning legislation, weak institutions responsible for control and land development, particularly in the Family Islands, and a dearth of data. Action is now being taken to correct these weaknesses particularly in respect to data collection. Preparation of a comprehensive Land Use Plan and Enforcement Instrument is a top priority for New Province and the major Family Islands. This is a major undertaking but is needed to complement the land use/transportation study now in progress.

Status

No information is available.

Challenges

Development of the long-range Planning (Research) Section of the Department of Physical Planning is crucial to improving land management effectiveness.

Capacity-building, Education, Training and Awareness-raising

No information is available.

Information

Information gathering on land use and preparation of base maps have begun for the island of San Salvador. This process will feed into the preparation of a Comprehensive Land Use Plan for this island which is considered a "hot spot" for future development. Completion is anticipated by autumn of 1997.

Research and Technologies

As a prelude to the comprehensive plan for land management on the main island of New Providence, the Ministry of Public Works (responsible for urban and regional planning) has engaged consultants who have prepared, as a first component, a Land Status Map, which is an inventory of lands approved for development through the subdivision approval process. The zoning of these lands will be indicated as well. Also included in this study is the identification of social, economic and environmental issues involved in land development on New Providence. The second component of this contract will yield terms of reference for preparation of a comprehensive land use plan for New Providence in the short- or medium-term that will seek to resolve some of these issues. The first component was scheduled to be completed by 31 January 1997.

Financing

No information is available.

Cooperation

No information is available.

 

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This information was provided by the Government of The Bahamas to the fifth session of the United Nations Commission on Sustainable Development. Last update: 1 April 1997.

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MOUNTAINS

This issue is not applicable to The Bahamas.

 

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OCEANS AND COASTAL AREAS

Decision-Making: Coordinating Bodies

The Ministry of Finance and Planning is responsible for overall planning; the Department of Fisheries, for marine resources; the Department of Lands and Surveys and the Department of Agriculture, for wetlands; the Ministry of Foreign Affairs has certain responsibilities for the Economic Zone; and the Departments of Lands and Surveys, Public Works and Port are all involved with aspects of coastal management. They are all members of the BEST Commission which is responsible for coordinating sustainable development activities.

Decision-Making: Legislation and Regulations 

The Bahamas ratified the UN Convention on the Law of the Sea in 1983.

Precautionary measures have been taken with respect to marine and coastal activities. It is now official policy to require an Environmental Impact Assessment prior to any major activities or development projects. If developers are guilty of negative practices, permits to operate are revoked. The same applies to fishermen, and heavy fines are applicable to cruise ships and boat owners for failure to comply with the laws and regulations.

Commercial fishing within the 200 mile exclusive fishing zone is reserved for Bahamian nationals.

Decision-Making: Strategies, Policies and Plans

The Bahamas has planned a national policy on oceans which will be integrated into the National Sustainable Development Plan.

Decision-Making:  Major Groups Involvement

No information is available.

Programmes and Projects

The Bahamas has planned an integrated coastal area management programme.

Approximately 80% of The Bahamas is within five feet of mean sea level. Thus rising sea levels, temperatures and the projected increase in the number and intensity of tropical cyclones are of concern. The loss of corals by bleaching and heat stress is also fo concern. These issues are being dealt with in the context of a GEF/OAS regional project on the Adaptation to Climate Change (CPACC)--in which the sea level rise and coral reeefs are being monitored.

Concerning commercial fishing, with the ever increasing demand for certain species, a number of projects have been undertaken to optimise sustainably the yield while not endangering future harvesting of crawfish, stone crab and conch fisheries.

Status

As a result of its geographic configuration, the protection of the ocean is of considerable importance to The Bahamas. The archipelago covers 100 sq. miles, 90% of which is water.

Challenges

The dumping of sewage, garbage, and so forth, from cruise and cargo ships is an ongoing problem for The Bahamas. While discussions with such companies are frequent, and heavy fines are imposed if detected, policing 100,000 sq.mi. of water is virtually impossible. Recommendation has been made for The Bahamas to become party to the Agreement to Promote Compliance with International Conservation and Management Measures by Fishing Vessels on the High Seas when finalized.

Capacity-building, Education, Training and Awareness-raising

The Bahamas has adopted a voluntary Code of Conduct for Responsible Fisheries which sets out principles and international standards of behaviour for responsible practices with a view to ensuring the effective conservation, management and development of living aquatic resources, with due respect for the ecosystem and biodiversity.

Information

A Biodiversity Data Management data base is being developed by the BEST Commission with GEF/UNEP assistance. The Government has rated the existing data bases adequate, and they cover the following: resources, cultural and socio-economic characteristics, activities, uses, habitats, protected areas, coral reef ecosystems, wetlands including mangroves, sea grass beds and other spawning and nursery areas.

Research and Technologies

The Government has access to technologies that serve to identify the major types of pollution of the marine environment from land-based sources. There are data bases used by the Department of Fisheries and the College of the Bahamas for integrated coastal management and information purposes.

Financing

No information is available.

Cooperation

The Bahamas is currently honouring the provision of the Code of Conduct of Responsible Fishing. It participates actively in the International Coral Reef Initiative, and other scientific activities of the Commonwealth Secretariat, OAS, UNESCO, UNEP, among others The Bahamas has undertaken climate change activities through the UNEP/GEF Caribbean Adaption to Climate Change Project and the World Meteorological Organization. It is actively involved in activities under the Convention on Biological Diversity, including UNEP/GEF Biodiversity Country Study, the Biodiversity Data Management Project and the National Biodiversity Strategy and Action Plan.

 

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This information was provided by the Government of The Bahamas to the fifth and sixth sessions of the United Nations Commission on Sustainable Development. Last update: 4 June 1998.

To access the Web Site of the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea, click here:
For information on the cpacc project, click here:

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TOXIC CHEMICALS

Decision-Making: Coordinating Bodies

At present there are no mechanisms in place to address designation of restricted or prohibited chemicals. The BEST Commission is responsible for all coordinating activities related to the Environment while the Department of Environmental Health Services (DEHS), Bahamas Customs and Excise and the Ministry of Agriculture all play a role in the day-to-day monitoring and investigation of related problems.

Decision-Making: Legislation and Regulations 

The Bahamas has made a provision under the Environmental Health Act (1987) for regulations governing the manufacture, disposal and use of toxic wastes. These regulations are currently in draft form. Traditionally, there has been no regulatory mechanism designating restricted or prohibited chemicals for importation or use in The Bahamas. In order to address this deficiency, The Bahamas is presently investigating the establishment of a permit system for the control of hazardous and toxic chemicals.

Decision-Making: Strategies, Policies and Plans

No information is available.

Decision-Making: Major Groups Involvement

No information is available.

Programmes and Projects

No information is available.

Status

No information is available.

Challenges

No information is available.

Capacity-building, Education, Training and Awareness-raising

No information is available.

Information

No information is available.

Research and Technologies

No information is available.

Financing

No information is available.

Cooperation

The Bahamas has participated in the first Intergovernmental Negotiating Committee for an Internationally Binding Instrument for the Application of the Prior Informed Consent Procedure for Certain Hazardous Chemicals and Pesticides in International Trade.

 

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This information was provided by the Government of The Bahamas to the fifth session of the United Nations Commission on Sustainable Development. Last update: 1 April 1997.

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WASTE AND HAZARDOUS MATERIALS

Solid Waste and Sanitation

Decision-Making: Coordinating Bodies

No information is available.

Decision-Making: Legislation and Regulations 

No information is available.

Decision-Making: Strategies, Policies and Plans

The Bahamas has for several years had a policy of not accepting waste of any kind to be imported into the country. This policy is regardless of whether the waste is for disposal or recycling.

The recent change in the Government policy towards solid waste and the change in management structure has allowed for a more realistic budget for the management of the service. This has resulted in more operational equipment and better trained personnel and a better and a more broadly based management structure for the Division, with the separation of cleaning of public areas from waste collection. Consideration now has to be given to re-introducing some cleaning aspects.

Decision-Making: Major Groups Involvement

No information is available.

Programmes and Projects

No information is available.

Status

Disposing of garbage and sewage is particularly difficult for small islands. Increasing amounts of waste, resulting from growing consumption and urbanization, have frequently led to pollution of lagoons and oceans, and contamination of ground water. Limited land areas make the option of landfill unsustainable in the longterm. The disposal of toxic and hazardous or radioactive waste by other countries on small islands has also generated much concern. Their isolation and dependence on marine and land resources make small islands highly vulnerable to contamination.

Solid waste management in the Bahamas has historically been plagued with several major problems, including: (1) poor equipment which has been highlighted by bad purchasing decisions and which cause repair difficulties, keeping equipment out of service for long periods of time; (2) gross under-funding; (3) lack of properly trained management and technical staff; (4) a poorly organized system of waste storage and lack of waste separation at source; (5) an inefficient system of revenue management and collection from commercial customers; and (6) a poorly designed disposal site layout.

Improper wastedisposal has resulted in atmospheric pollution, forest and bush fires; unobstructed breeding of disease vectors; pollution of waterways, coastal areas and swamp ponds; pollution of water resources by leachates; increased population of stray animals, dogs, cats and resulting threat to biodiversity by feral animals; pollution of marine environment by waste disposal in the sea or in mangrove wetland areas.

Challenges

The major constraints in implementing sound waste management policies and programmes have to do with the high cost and need to introduce and implement a sound waste management programme in over 30 major population centres: limited manpower resources; lack of a national public education programme; inadequate solid waste management programme; financial constraints; lack of trained personnel; lack of available appropriate technology; lack of financial resources, lack of appropriate technology; need for mobile treatment facility for hazardous waste applicable to The Bahamas.

The technology needs for sound waste management include: personnel trained as engineers; leachate testing equipment and training; maintenance training for tractors, dumpsters; training in chemical treatment/thermal treatment; pozzolanic fixation and biological treatment of solid waste; management information systems.

Capacity-building, Education, Training and Awareness-raising

No information is available.

Information

No information is available.

Research and Technologies

A survey to categorize the waste has been done, and a system for involving the private sector is being finalized. A detailed plan for the layout and management of the disposal site is under development.

A major pre-investment study of waste disposal has been completed by the Inter-American Development Bank. It proposes that a nation wide waste disposal project be established to address all areas of this problem.

Financing

No information is available.

Cooperation

The Bahamas was a leader at the Second Meeting of the Conference of the Parties to the Basel Convention, on the transfer of hazardous wastes from developed to developing countries. The country is actively participating in the negotiations for a treaty on liability and compensation for damage caused by transboundary movements of wastes. The Bahamas is presently Chair of the Ad Hoc Open-Ended Committee of the Extended Bureau of the Convention and has been asked to chair the Implementation Committee of the Convention.

 

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This information was provided by the Government of The Bahamas to the fifth and sixth sessions of the United Nations Commission on Sustainable Development. Last update: 4 June 1998.

Hazardous Waste

Decision-Making: Coordinating Bodies

The Department of Environmental Health Services (DEHS) is responsible for the daily monitoring of activities in this area. DEHS is represented on the BEST Commission and is a full-fledged member of the National Coordination Mechanism for Sustainable Development. National legislation to protect the environment, inclusive of hazardous waste, has been drafted and is awaiting approval. Hazardous Materials Regulations are also being drafted. The Environmental Act of 1987 gives the Department of Environmental Health Services (DEHS) the authority to control the use, manufacture and disposal of toxic chemicals and the responsibility for hazardous waste management.

Decision-Making: Legislation and Regulations 

The Basel Convention on the Control of Transboundary Movements of Hazardous Wastes and their Disposal was ratified in 1992.

Decision-Making: Strategies, Policies and Plans

No information is available.

Decision-Making: Major Groups Involvement

No information is available.

Programmes and Projects

No information is available.

Status

The Bahamas is largely dependent on groundwater for agricultural, domestic and industrial water supplies, and, as such, there is great concern about the possibility of its contamination from improper management.

Challenges

No information is available.

Capacity-building, Education, Training and Awareness-raising

The Department of Environmental Health Services, being aware of the widening scope of environmental health and The Bahamas' involvement in international agreements, has made a concerted effort to increase its staff of qualified inspectors. The increase in qualified staff will allow for closer monitoring of issues such as solid and hazardous waste management.

Information

No information is available.

Research and Technologies

No information is available.

Financing

The estimated cost of operation and maintenance of hazardous waste facilities to be provided during the next two years is in excess of $2.5 million. It is anticipated that financial aid will be received from international organisations.

Cooperation

The Bahamas is (a) a signatory to the Basel Convention, (b) participating actively in meetings related to various aspects of the Basel Convention, (c) participating in negotiations for a treaty on liability and compensation for damage resulting from transboundary movements of waste, (d) serving, for the fourth year, as a chair of the Committee for the Implementation of the Basel Convention, and (e) participating in the discussions on the Regional centre for Training and Technology Transfer.

 

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This information was provided by the Government of The Bahamas to the fifth session of the United Nations Commission on Sustainable Development. Last update: 1 April 1997.

For direct link to the Web Site of the Basel Convention, click here:

RADIOACTIVE WASTE

No information is available.

 

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