by Ashley McClain, CSC Blogger
Since 2014, The Bahamas has been a member of UNESCO’s World Heritage Convention (WHC) — a body responsible for establishing World Heritage Sites which possess universal value and significance. There are only two Bahamian sites listed so far for consideration: Historic Lighthouses of The Bahamas and The Inagua National Park. I take no issue with these sites being the first on the list. There are many other sites, however, which should be included: The Tongue of the Ocean, pink sand beaches in Harbour Island, and the Glass Window Bridge in Eleuthera to start. I haven’t even gotten to Andros as yet; with its diverse and rich natural environment, land and sea. In listing those, we’ve still only covered four islands. And that barely captures the existing beauty of each of them. It’s almost as if everywhere you look is World Heritage Site-worthy!
Why is this important? Well, because the process validates our country’s position on conservation, preservation, and protection of the Bahamas’ natural environment.
The sites of various other Caribbean nations like Jamaica, Barbados, and the Dominican Republic have been accepted and approved. My questions are then: Why has an official distinction not been made in The Bahamas as yet? Who is responsible for this international process locally? What is delaying the process here? What can citizens do to help accelerate it?
Is this process being intentionally stalled?
The Government of Bahamas profits greatly from the sale of Bahamian land. Land preservation efforts could limit future sales; which may not entirely be a bad thing.
The harsh reality remains that not all of our investors respect and protect our sacred environment. Carnival Cruise Line’s consistent dumping of waste in Bahamian waters is a prime example of this. The company has been undeterred by multiple court visits, penal fines and warnings from judges, yet we allow them to continue to sail on through.
WHC validation gives international support to local citizens and advocates who continue to fight to protect the only country we have. It gives teeth and deepens consequences to our policies and penalties when facing international adversaries and positioning us with an international ally, the WHC.
What can we do in our everyday lives to help?
Ask your MP about advocating for your favorite environmental space becoming a WHC site.
Stay aware of what’s happening around us because knowledge = power.
Speak up and speak loudly! Bring attention to the cause.
Resist your own urge to litter.
Recycle and reuse in the ways that we can.
Remember to pack our reusable bags in the car in case we gatty shop at some point during the day.
This country is ours and ours to protect. Check out and explore the current listing of World Heritage Sites here: https://whc.unesco.org/en/list/