Prime Minister Davis’s Remarks at BREEF Extreme Hangout 2024

Good morning everyone,

I am so pleased to be back here at my alma mater and so proud to see such inspiring and thriving young minds gathered here in the name of a sustainable future. 

Everywhere I go, I display my pride as a green Giant proudly. As an alumnus of this great institute of learning, I am well aware of the high-quality education that you have access to – although when I was younger I probably didn’t fully grasp just how valuable it was.

When we are young, it’s rare that we learn to love these formative experiences in life until well after they have passed. Every conversation, every lesson you learn – even in the classes where you’re struggling to stay awake – every topic that piques your curiosity and stokes your inner fire leaves a lasting impression that will guide you through the journey of life.

Today, I have no doubt that I am standing in the presence of some of the brightest young minds in The Bahamas. The fact that you could be using your youthful energy and intelligence to further your personal interests in any way you desire, and you are choosing to spend your time making your country a better place is commendable. But I should expect nothing less from fellow Giants.

We are here today to drive action on climate change, marine conservation, and our collective well-being. 

I remember just a couple of years ago, when I was your age. I didn’t know where life would take me, but I was sure that I wanted to make a meaningful contribution to society – not just for my own sake, but for my family, my community, and my country.

I eventually chose to make a difference through the law, pursuing justice and fair outcomes for the many clients I have had over the years. Eventually, as my passion for my people and my nation grew and my desire to live in a fair and just country for everyone could no longer be ignored, I embraced public service. Through it all, my formative experiences in life continued to be a guiding light – not just as a student at this institution – but my early experience of the natural beauty of island life growing up in Cat Island. Because I’ve always known the sacred beauty of our natural environment, I have always been a firm advocate for conservation.

What we have here in The Bahamas is unlike anywhere else in the world. Our landscapes, both marine and terrestrial, are contenders to be world wonders. US astronaut Scot Kelly has said on multiple occasions that The Bahamas is the most beautiful place from space. And we are just as beautiful up close as we are from hundreds of miles away.

Within this immense beauty is also the potential to support livelihoods through fishing, agriculture and aquaculture, and tourism. 

That is why my government has prioritised the cultivation of the blue and green economies from day one. It is critical that we protect our marine and coastal environments to fully tap into the unbridled potential for economic growth and sustainability that we know exists.

For this reason, we must remain committed to protecting and preserving the valuable natural assets that we have. 

Our waters are the lifeline of our economy, our heritage, and our people. It is our duty to protect them. Organisations like BREEF are doing incredibly valuable work that benefits us all.
We must all support these efforts and work together to mitigate the ongoing threats to our environment. Some of the threats are internal, like overconsumption, which is one of the biggest contributors to pollution of our environment and the depletion of stocks of marine species due to unsustainable harvesting practices. 

Other forces at work are external, particularly climate change, which poses the biggest threat to our environment and people. We have already seen the effects of temperature increases on our waters, triggering coral bleaching events that impact the entire region.  

The effects of climate change are only projected to get worse, which puts both us, our environment, and the flora and fauna that coexist with us at risk. That is why I continue to advocate for more action and assistance for Small Island Developing States like ours on the world stage.

We must also lead the way by adopting a cleaner, more environmentally friendly way of life. The government recognises the important role it plays as we transition our islands to renewable forms of energy like solar.

As young leaders, you have the power to promote conservation, to advance climate justice, and to effect change. And we all have individual contributions we can make as well.

We can all use less single-use plastics and less fossil fuels in our personal lives – whether that means a future vehicle purchase that is hybrid or electric, being more conscious of our electricity consumption, or choosing sustainably packaged products and finding ways to reuse the plastic products that we purchase.

As young leaders – and not just young leaders, but young Giants – you must not underestimate the impact of your voices. Speak up and speak loudly! Each one of you has a part to play in securing a sustainable future. 

We can all be effective advocates. So stand up today, and demand a better future!.

Absorb these discussions we have today so you can arm yourself with even more knowledge to be a more effective advocate and changemaker in this world.

Our country is worth fighting for – to preserve all that is beautiful about our environment, our way of life, and our people. Let’s all commit to doing our part to fight for progress.

Thank you.