Bahamas

Location

Nassau
Bahamas
25° 3' 0" N, 77° 28' 0.12" W

 

Capital Based Focal Point

Camille Johnson
Permanent Secretary Ministry of Environment and Housing
(242)322-6005 phone
(242)326-2650 fax
camillejohnson@bahamas.gov.bs

Capital City: 
Nassau
Languages: 
English, Bahamian Creole
Category: Social
Indicator 2000 2001 2002 2003 2004 2005 2006 2007 2008 2009 2010 Source
Net enrollment ratio in primary education 86.8 84.7 88.59999999999999 90.7 88.40000000000001 91.2 MDG Database
Seats held by women in national parliament, percentage 15 15 15 20 20 20 20 20 12.2 12.2 12.2 UN Stats (MDGs indicators)
Category: Land
Indicator 2000 2001 2002 2003 2004 2005 2006 2007 2008 2009 2010 Source
Agricultural land (1000 Ha) 13 13 13 13 13 13 13 13 13 FAO
Category: Tourism
Indicator 2000 2001 2002 2003 2004 2005 2006 2007 2008 2009 2010 Source
International tourism receipts (% of total exports) 1,753 1,665 1,773 1,770 1,897 2,082 2,079 Development Data Group, The World Bank. 2008. 2008 World Development Indicators Online. Washington, DC: The World Bank. Available at: http://go.worldbank.org/U0FSM7AQ40.
Category: Demographics
Indicator 2000 2001 2002 2003 2004 2005 2006 2007 2008 2009 2010 Source
Country population 304,812 309,133 313,319 317,407 321,453 325,496 329,551 333,609 337,668 341,713 World Bank
Population annual growth 1.47334 1.40764 1.34502 1.2963 1.26665 1.24988 1.23809 1.22385 1.20935 1.1908 World Bank
Category: Indices
Indicator 2000 2001 2002 2003 2004 2005 2006 2007 2008 2009 2010 Source
HDI - Human Development Index 0.776 0.779 0.782 0.783 0.783 0.784 UNDP International Human Development Indicators - Calculated based on data from UNDESA (2009d), Barro and Lee (2010), UNESCO Institute for Statistics (2010b), World Bank (2010b) and IMF(2010a).
Category: Economy
Indicator 2000 2001 2002 2003 2004 2005 2006 2007 2008 2009 2010 Source
ODA received as % of GNI UN Stats (MDGs indicators)
Category: Climate Change and Sea-level Rise
Indicator 2000 2001 2002 2003 2004 2005 2006 2007 2008 2009 2010 Source
Carbon dioxide emissions (CO2), thousand metric tons of CO2 (CDIAC) 1,797 1,797 2,083 1,870 2,010 2,109 2,138 2,149 MDG Database (CDIAC Data)
Category: Biodiversity
Indicator 2000 2001 2002 2003 2004 2005 2006 2007 2008 2009 2010 Source
Proportion of terrestrial and marine areas protected 0.54 0.54 1.01 1.01 1.01 1.01 1.01 1.01 1.01 1.01 UN Stats (MDGs indicators)

Climate Change and Sea Level Rise

The Commonwealth of The Bahamas submitted its first National Communication on Climate Change to the UNFCCC in 2001. The Bahamas established the National Policy for the Adaptation to Climate Change (NPACC) in March 2005. The National Environmental Management Action Plan (NEMAP) for The Bahamas was established in August 2005, addressing environmental policy and climate change.

The Bahamas comprises an archipelago of over 700 low-lying islands plus more than 200 cays, islets and rocks. It is especially vulnerable to the effects of global climate change and sea level rise, as some 80% of the landmass is within 1.5 m of mean sea level. Coastal areas, home to the vast majority of the population and the site of most economic activity, are vital to the prosperity of these islands. The vulnerability of coastal resources, human settlements and infrastructure to sea level rise, increases in sea surface temperature, and changes in wind and ocean currents, is of significant concern to The Bahamas.

Due to its small industrial base and low population density, the Bahamas is not a major contributor to greenhouse gases (GHGs).  With its extensive vegetation cover and marine production of calcium carbonate, carbon dioxide can be absorbed by the ecological environment.

Natural and Environmental Disasters

The Bahamas has built a range of approaches to disaster management. The National Emergency Management Agency (NEMA) was created in 2006. The Bahamas has established the National Disaster Preparedness and Response Plan (NDP) to handle policies related to assistance operations and to develop disaster response and recovery actions. In the risk management area, the Bahamas has established the Natural Risk Preventive Management Programme. Efforts are also underway to develop the Country Risk Profile.

Hurricanes and tropical storms are a regular occurrence in the Bahamas during the Atlantic hurricane season, which extends from June to November. Located within the North Atlantic hurricane belt, the high winds, rains, storm surges and associated flooding result in significant impacts on the country. These impacts are likely to include: submergence of coral reefs and flooding of wetlands and coastal lowlands, loss of marine biodiversity and fisheries productivity, loss of terrestrial biodiversity, depletion and pollution of potable ground water supplies, loss of agricultural land and reduced agricultural productivity from salinity, and the introduction of alien pests and diseases.

Final Report of the National Environmental Management Action Plan for the Bahamas, 2005

Waste Management

The Bahamas promulgated the country’s Pollution Control and Waste Management Regulations in 2000.

The majority of homes in the Bahamas are not on a central sewage handling system. Waste disposal puts pressure on soil and water quality in the Bahamas. A programme to provide sewer systems for major settlements has been developed to reduce this pressure. As part of the Solid Waste Management Programme, the Bahamas is in the process of building sanitary landfills. Glass and plastic recycling efforts in the Bahamas are largely limited to private individuals collecting and returning beverage bottles with return deposits. There is also cardboard and paper collection by commercial firms.

Final Report of the National Environmental Management Action Plan for the Bahamas, 2005
Bahamas National Assessment Report for the BPoA 10-year Review, 2004

Coastal and Marine Resources

The Bahamas has planned an integrated coastal area management programme, led by the Department of Marine Resources. In the Bahamas 2020 Declaration, the country committed to conserving and effectively managing 20% of its marine environment by 2020. To this end, the National Park system has been expanded. So far, there are nine marine parks managed in The Bahamas.

Marine environments cover the largest area of The Bahamas and are linked through the flow of energy and matter in biological and ecological cycles. The marine environment can be classified into four main categories: sea grass beds, coral reefs, pelagic ecosystems and deepwater ecosystems. Tourism, fishing, shipping transport and the protection of certain species rely on these resources to a considerable degree. Climate change and overfishing are major issues affecting coastal zones in the Bahamas. Loss of fisheries production is caused by increased ocean temperatures, sea level rise, and increased severe weather. Fish kills and coral die-offs occur due in part to increased seawater temperatures and the propagation of red tides.

Final Report of the National Environmental Management Action Plan for the Bahamas, 2005
Bahamas National Policy for the Adaptation to Climate Change, 2005

Freshwater Resources

The Water and Sewerage Corporation (WASC) Act of 1976 provides the basic legal framework for the management and regulation of the country's ground water resources. To ensure adequate freshwater resources for economic development and guarantee water quality, the Bahamas has been working on new legislation with respect to national land use planning and waste management. Water supply franchises associated with the development of a water supply system have been built for areas with inadequate resources.

There are no rivers or major freshwater lakes in the Bahamas. Rainfall is the only source of freshwater in the Bahamas. It has been estimated that freshwater underlies only five percent of the total landmass of the Bahamas, and approximately one percent of the total archipelagic expanse of the Commonwealth. A daily availability of less than one half of a cubic meter per head, as is the case in New Providence, is considered a critical shortage. Even with existing conservation measures, the shortage of water and increasing prices of water now experienced by some island communities will become more commonplace in the Bahamas. The freshwater resources of the Bahamas are finite and vulnerable to degradation from both natural and anthropogenic sources of pollution. The lack of regulation and enforcement of existing regulations on land use, agriculture, pesticides, domestic sewage, landfill sites, solid waste disposal, and the abstraction of water has resulted in the degradation of the resource. The current estimate of available water per head of population will decrease with time as the increased demands from industry, agriculture, and population growth continues.

Final Report of the National Environmental Management Action Plan for the Bahamas, 2005
Bahamas National Assessment Report for the BPoA 10-year Review, 2004

Land Resources

The Conservation and Protection of the Physical Landscape (CPPL) Act 1997 regulates certain land resource-related development activities in the Bahamas. The Bahamas also signed the Ramsar Convention on Wetlands in June 1997. Additionally, in line with the UNCCD, a National Action Plan to Combat Land Degradation is being drafted.

It is estimated that only 5.4% of the total area of the Bahamas is land (the rest being the marine Exclusive Economic Zone, or EEZ). There are competing demands for the limited land resources, including urban use, agriculture, forestry, tourism and conservation. The landscape of the islands consists of a mixture of rolling hills and ridges, flat rock land, and extensive wetlands. Soil is thin, coarse-textured, fragile and increasingly exhausted. The biodiversity and economic development of the Bahamas rely on its extensive wetlands. However, wetlands resources are becoming degraded or extinct due to the tourist boom. Wetlands offer a natural means of defense and remediation from natural disasters, and their degradation and destruction from construction and land development has led to in increased infrastructure damage resulting from hurricane events.

Final Report of the National Environmental Management Action Plan for the Bahamas, 2005

Energy Resources

The Bahamas National Energy Policy Committee produced its first report in November 2008. Plans for the industrial development of bio-fuels have been initiated since July 2009.

There are no proven reserves of easily exploitable fossil fuel sources in significant quantities in the Bahamas. The Bahamas depends on imported petroleum products to satisfy over 99% of its consumer energy demand. Its long-term energy security level is therefore low. Renewable energy resources have yet to be exploited in the Bahamas in a significant way. Possible renewable resources include waste-to-energy, solar, wind and tidal resources across the Bahamas. Waste-to-energy currently represents the more immediate, actionable initiative to increase power supplies in the short term. Ocean Thermal Energy Conversion (OTEC) processes also represent an exploitable renewable resource. Despite efforts to introduce renewable energy into the country, the overall penetration of renewable energy technologies into the economy has been very limited compared to other small island developing states within the region.

Tourism

The “Sustainable Tourism Policy, Guidelines and Implementation Strategy for the Out Islands of The Bahamas” was produced in 1994. A Sustainable Tourism Development Unit operates within the Ministry of Tourism.

Tourism is the key economic sector in the Bahamas and its contribution to the national GDP has grown rapidly over the past several years. Tourism alone accounts for more than 50% of Gross Domestic Product (GDP) and directly or indirectly employs about 40% of the labor force. The natural beauty of the Bahamas serves as a tourist attraction. Marine biodiversity, in particular, has been an attraction to visitors seeking scenic beauty, recreational fishing, scuba diving and other water sports, and fresh seafood. The relatively small size of the country and its dependence on the tourism industry make the Bahamas vulnerable to economic fluctuations in its major tourism markets. The tourism industry of the Bahamas is likely to be impacted negatively by climate change. The erosion of beaches and sea-level rise may destroy tourism infrastructure. The loss of natural tourism attractions has already been occurring. A higher frequency of extreme weather events may reduce numbers of visitors to the country.

Final Report of the National Environmental Management Action Plan for the Bahamas, 2005
Bahamas National Assessment Report for the BPoA 10-year Review, 2004
Bahamas First National Communication on Climate Change, 2001

Biodiversity

The Bahamas released its third national report on the National Biodiversity Strategy and Action Plan (NBSAP) to the Commission on Biological Diversity in 2005. The Bahamas has adopted a National Invasive Species Strategy, and a Biosecurity Strategy has been drafted. Conservation Area Plans have been developed as well. The Bahamas has also enacted the Wildlife Conservation and Trade Act against international trade of endangered species.

A mosaic of natural systems exists within the Bahamas archipelago. There are three bioregions throughout the Bahamas, each with very different characteristics and specific needs in terms of conservation. Over 1,350 species of flowering plants and ferns have been identified in the country. In keeping with species conservation efforts, the Bahamas expanded the National Park System in 2002 through the addition of 10 new protected areas to the existing 12. The total national park holdings exceed 263 hectares.

The Bahamas Third National Report of National Biodiversity Strategy and Action Plan, 2005
Bahamas National Assessment Report for the BPoA 10-year Review, 2004
Country Strategies: 
Title Programme Name Programme Description Year
Disaster management Strategy - Bahamas Natural risk preventive management program
UNFCCC First National Communication on Climate Change - Bahamas Commonwealth of the Bahamas. First national communication on climate change. Submitted to the Secretariat of the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change for presentation to the Conference of Parties. Strategy Description 2001
NBSAP - Bahamas Third National Report Strategy Description 2005
NSDS - Bahamas Strategy Description
Bahamas National Policy for the Adaptation to Climate Change National Strategy 2005
Bill | 27 Aug 2012
PREPARED BY OHRLLS   SUMMARY The 2012 Third World Summit on Sustainable Development (Rio+20), saw 36 representatives and heads of state from Small Island Developing States (SIDS) take to the floor during the Plenary Session to deliver statements on a range of issues of importance and relevance to them. Of the 36 SIDS representatives, 10 were Heads of State while 10 were Heads of Government making up 26% of the 77 Heads of State and Heads of Government who addressed the Plenary...
Bill | 25 Jul 2013
17 July 2013: The Caribbean Development Bank (CDB) launched a US$23.5 million Community Disaster Risk Reduction Trust Fund (CDRRF) that will provide grants to support community-based disaster risk reduction (DRR) and climate change adaptation demonstration projects. CDRRF will provide grants ranging in value from US$400,000 to US$650,000 to address local disaster risk, climate change vulnerabilities and risk reduction needs of each community. By offering communities direct access to grants...
01 May 2013 | SIDS Policy and Practice
26 April 2013: The Commonwealth Secretariat hosted representatives of very small States in a meeting on the specific challenges that micro-States face in delivering sustainable development. Discussions focused on governance, policy and public administration in micro-States. The meeting took place from 23-25 April 2013, in London, UK, and addressed, among other agenda items, the promotion of access to finance for adapting to climate change. As an outcome, the Commonwealth Secretariat will...
External Resources: 
Title Programme Description Year
Bahamas National Commission for UNESCO
National focal point for sustainable development: 
Tishka Francis tfraser@bahamasny.com
917-442-3373 New York