Save The Bays and the College of The Bahamas set to host first in a series of talks entitled “Our Right to Know”
Save The Bays (STB) and the College of The Bahamas have announced a two-year partnership to raise awareness of the vital importance of citizens rights and government transparency through a series of lectures and panel discussions.
The first in the “Our Right to Know” series will be held on Wednesday, October 22 in the Harry C. Moore Library from 6 – 8:30pm. It will focus on the urgent need for a freedom of information act in The Bahamas. The Bahamas National Trust, BREEF and re Earth have also agreed to be sponsors of the lecture series.
The panelists will be: retired Justice Jeanne Thompson, assistant professor Lisa Benjamin and attorney and social activist Romi Ferreira. Their discussion will be moderated by reEarth founder and STB director Sam Duncombe.
“Access to information is important for transparency within governance and to foster public participation in developmental decisions,” said Professor Benjamin, a lecturer in COB’s law program.
A key focus of the series will be the current lack of government transparency when it comes to the approval of developments – particularly those that are likely to have a negative impact on the surrounding environment.
Professor Benjamin said: “In a small island developing state such as ours, public participation is arguably necessary in order to promote better environmental decision making, and to assist with the delicate balance of sustainable development.”
Duncombe, a longtime environmental advocate said: “I am delighted that COB has partnered with the NGO community in bringing these poignant issues to the public. We look forward to collaborating further with the college to bring current critical issues and knowledgeable speakers to the fore and have the public actively engage in discussing them.”
Ferreira, also an STB director who has worked for decades to bring the law, citizens’ rights and environmental conservation together, said the timing of the lecture series could not be better.
“Save The Bays has been working very hard to transmit its message of transparency, accountability and environmental responsibility to the next generation of Bahamians, understanding that the fight to preserve the natural treasures of The Bahamas will ultimately fall to them.
“This partnership with COB will bring many bright young minds together with other concerned citizens and experienced advocates, just as the battle for freedom of information is coming to a head.
The lecture comes just days before a Freedom of Information Street Party, to be held on October 25 from 4 – 8pm at Van Brugels on Charlotte Street, hosted by STB and its community partners.
The event is free and will feature live music and food and drink for sale.
“The goal of the street party is to attract a huge turnout and demonstrate to the government that two years is too long to wait for a Freedom of Information Act. I have no doubt that very soon, all the concerned citizens of The Bahamas will join forces to present a unified front to our leaders in demanding transparency, accountability and the rule of law,” said Lindsey McCoy, CEO of STB.
The focus of the second installments in the series, the date of which will soon be announced, will be importance of conducting transparent Environmental Impact Assessments before developments are given the green light, and the critical need for an overarching Environmental Protection Act to preserve the natural resources of The Bahamas for the benefit of future generations.
Founded just over a year ago, Save The Bays has taken The Bahamas by storm. The grassroots effort to protect ecologically significant areas of the archipelago from unregulated development has transformed into a broad-based coalition that is at the forefront of both social and environmental issues. Calling for an environmental protection act, oil spill legislation, the freedom of information act and much needed conchservation laws.