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Tuesday, May 30, 2006 

Tuesday, May 30, 2006

Premier: We can be an example to Caribbean on sustainable development

By Stuart Roberts

Bermuda will teach the rest of the Caribbean to be more sustainable at an upcoming multinational Environment Forum, Premier Alex Scott said on Monday.At a press conference in Cabinet, Mr. Scott said he would be the keynote speaker at a Caribbean Environmental Forum and Exhibition (CEF) in Antigua and Barbuda from June 5 to June 9.“We have to get it right,” Premier Scott said. “Probably we are a good example to the other territories because we are such a small Island community, 21 square miles. They generally have an abundance of land and an expanse of opportunities. Our margin of error is very small. If we get it wrong at Morgan’s Point that’s two-, three percent of the land-bank that came back to us from the US. So it’s crucial. What we do in Hamilton Harbour. If we throw concrete at it and ruin a beautiful little harbour, I’m not saying development is doing that, I’m saying we have to be very conscious of the impact both now and into the foreseeable future because we have a small margin for error.”Mr. Scott said the United Nations’ Division on Sustainable Development recently called Bermuda a “model for others” and a “useful case study”.“Similarly and most recently, the US Consul General commented that Bermuda can be an example to other Island Nations,” the Premier said. Morgan’s Point and future hotels would have to be developed with sustainable practices, he said.“I hope there is interest in developing our infrastructure from a tourism point of view,” he said. “This means the developer now has to develop in keeping with the concepts, precepts and parameters in which we see Bermuda developing.”Rather than developers coming in and putting up hotels “there, there or elsewhere”, Mr. Scott said they would be encouraged to develop in a ways sympathetic to what Bermudians want to see. “Bermudians want to see open space in a given area, you won’t be able to develop there,” he said. “But if there is a certain area where we want to have development, you might find the development of a closed tourist resort, notice I’m not saying hotel, will be sympathetic to our need for housing, sympathetic to our need for mixed housing and to have a resort development and invest in that type of complex will make it sympathetic to sustainable development as we are beginning to perceive it.”He said many people wanted to see something happen at Morgan’s Point but at the same time did not want to see it quickly overdeveloped.“The consensus appears to be – clean it up, open space, housing – and probably in that order,” he said. “If any developer was invited in they would probably be invited in under those terms of reference.” He said CEF was an important learning opportunity and a chance to teach those in the Caribbean who were about to start on the path to more sustainable communities.“The Government recognises, that while we can and must develop our own strategies for sustainable development, the need is a global one,” he said. “Our acceptance of the invitation is also in large measure our own recognition of the leadership role that Bermuda can play in the global arena.”Sustainable Development Director Erica Smith would also attend CEF, he said, to chair a workshop on the implementation of sustainable practices in Small Island Development States like Bermuda.Ms Smith said it was a compliment for Bermuda to be invited. Experts from the Caribbean, Canada, Kenya, Jamaica, Antigua, Barbuda and the US would attend CEF, Mr. Scott said.“We view this as an important learning opportunity for all concerned, especially as we head towards finalising, with the general public, our national Sustainable Development Strategy and Implementation Plan,” Mr. Scott said. He said Cabinet had concluded its review of the Plan, which should be released in June. However, the Premier was confident the recommendations made in it would be supported by Ministers who made mostly “constructive observations”.“I don’t think the draft suffered any fatal changes to the original notion,” he said, adding all contributors – Sustainable Development Round Table included – would be “comfortable” with the version of the Plan that comes out of Cabinet.

Copyright ©2005 The Royal Gazette Ltd.

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