The Bahamas is a low-lying, small-island, archipelagic developing state. An independent country, it has enjoyed 45 years of peaceful transition of government within its parliamentary democracy. The economy, driven by the pillars of tourism and financial services, has been generally good, delivering a high quality of life for many. Unfortunately, however, there are negative trends which suggest that some may have been left behind as the country progressed.
Youth unemployment has remained consistently high. Key industries are not producing enough growth to drive sufficient employment expansion. Challenges prevail in the public education and health care systems. The country is experiencing serious infrastructure challenges. Public institutions require strengthening. Similar to many other small-island developing states, the greatest threat is vulnerability to climate change and sea level rise.
Recognizing that synergies between a national development plan and the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), the Government of The Bahamas is ensuring that the 2030 Agenda is localised into its national development planning process. National development planning and monitoring, coordination, promotion and reporting of the country’s implementation of the SDGs is led by the Economic Development and Planning Unit, Office of the Prime Minister. It is recognised that institutional arrangements must be strengthened and formalised to ensure that all segments of society are more involved in and take ownership of the SDGs.
A key goal of national development ambitions is strengthening the resilience of groups and communities which are marginalized or have not benefited sufficiently from the success of the country. Accordingly, programmes that address the special issues of the elderly, youth at risk and the geographical disparities within the country are being designed.
The Bahamas recognises that to achieve the SDGs, strong institutions and access to sufficient resources are necessary. The Government continues to take steps to strengthen its public institutions, including introduction of a new programme to strengthen its financial and budgetary management systems, and the development of a National Statistical System.
Notwithstanding the high GDP per capita of the country, The Bahamas is a vulnerable, developing country, particularly to exogenous threats like climate change. Climate change magnifies the growing concerns regarding food and energy security, water scarcity, health and the resource requirements for protection from natural disasters, among others. Eighty percent of The Bahamas is within 1.5 metres of the mean sea level. If the sea level rises five feet, as it is expected to do this century, eighty percent of the landmass could disappear.
The Bahamas already experiences some of the effects of climate variability and change through damage from severe weather systems and other extreme events, as well as the more subtle, slow onset changes in temperature and rainfall patterns, for example. Detailed climate modelling projections for The Bahamas predict an increase in average atmospheric temperature, reduced annual rainfall, increased sea surface temperature and the potential for an increase in the intensity of tropical storms.
The Bahamas is committed to achieving the 2030 Agenda. It recognises that this must be done in partnership with others in order to best meet the peculiar challenges it faces.
Below is a list of websites to key national institutions with responsibility for environmental issues:
- Bahamas Ministry of Environment and Housing/Bahamas Environment, Science and Technology Commission
- Bahamas National Trust
- Bahamas Reef Environmental Education Foundation