Members of the Diplomatic Corps and other Distinguished Guests,
Ladies and Gentlemen,
It is my distinct pleasure to welcome you to the Prime Minister’s Reception and Awards Ceremony.
We are now wrapping up Day 3 of Diplomatic Week, and what a dynamic few days it has been!
I must salute the Ministry of Foreign Affairs for arranging such an exciting and salient line-up of forums and panels, all of which have broached important matters of national, regional, and international interest.
Already, we have benefitted from the presentations of delegates from prominent regional and international bodies, be it the UN, the Commonwealth Secretariat, CARICOM, or the OAS. Collectively, we have recommitted to the principles of multilateralism, strengthened cross-cultural partnerships, and dialogued with diplomats from friendly countries, near and far.
All the while, we have showcased rich displays of Bahamian culture, and warmly received attendees from diverse backgrounds.
Diplomatic Week, in and of itself, is a powerful tribute to the transformative power of considered, principled, and respectful exchange. In a world such as ours, where interdependence has become not only the norm, but in some respects, quite necessary – the work of a diplomat is as consequential as ever.
As diplomats, you not only represent our people, but you also pursue our national interests, forge new friendships, and explore untapped opportunities abroad.
Though we may be an archipelago of just under four hundred thousand persons, our role on the world stage is changing.
There is a surprising reality emerging out of the overlapping crises of our time – be it a worsening climate crisis, unanticipated economic blows, or colonial aftershocks. The surprising reality is that more and more, the spotlight is shifting towards us. Ours is a golden opportunity, my friends, to turn crisis into transformative change. This is the time to reorient the conversation, to champion new ideas, and to chart a new course.
Small island developing states the world over are experiencing the distressing symptoms of modernity’s fatal flaws. Globally, climate change is causing countries like ours the most harm, despite us having done the least to bring it about. This is not just a catchphrase. This is an idea – and ideas are capable not only of changing their minds, but our tomorrow.
I advanced this idea earlier this month at the Canada-CARICOM Summit in Ottawa, and I will continue to expand upon it at COP28, where CARICOM countries will push for progress on the much-needed Loss and Damage fund.
In the future, it is likely that we will need new ideas to counter novel crises. It will then be up to our diplomatic corps to convey and act on these ideas, while simultaneously building new relationships and strengthening existing ones.
In the words of Kofi Annan: “The future wellbeing of humankind rests increasingly on the courage and foresight of its leaders to realise the full meaning of interdependence, and to translate it into practical actions.”
Ours is a globalised, interconnected world, and we must not underestimate the power of partnership. Diplomats, take this idea to heart, and reimagine what might emerge in a new era of interdependence.
To all those receiving medals and honours tonight, I salute you. Your service is profoundly appreciated. Your work, always measured and ever mannerly, rises above any individual footprint. It hovers, my friends, in the heart of the nation.
These awards are more than a material prize, they are a profound gesture of gratitude toward those Foreign Service Officers who have performed exceptionally in their duties.
Tonight, we not only recognise diplomats who have operated at the highest calibre this year, but we also honour the outstanding officers of 2014 and 2016, who will receive their much-deserved medals.
May these emblems of our appreciation serve to remind you of the crucial charge you carry, and the vast scope of your professional success.
Once again, thank you, diplomats!
May the remainder of this week be an overwhelming success!