March 29, 2021
The Blue Action Lab, located in Freeport, Grand Bahama has been awarded the Blue Climate Initiative’s Community Award for its efforts and vision to develop, implement, and scale blue economy strategies to combat climate change and build resilient coastal and island communities. The award is given to innovative organizations working on place-based, sustainable solutions ranging from food security and renewable energy to ecosystem restoration and sustainable tourism. The Blue Action Lab was one of six organizations to receive the prestigious award out of more than 80 organizations, from 45 countries and island nations around the world.
Climate change poses critical threats to low-lying coastal and island communities around the world such as more extreme storms, rising sea levels, marine ecosystem degradation and food insecurity. While these challenges are accelerating, the promised solutions needed have been slow in coming. As governments are increasingly called on to deal with the latest disaster, businesses have struggled to achieve the level of proven effectiveness and scale needed to draw investment and make the required impact.
To address this gap, the Blue Action Lab is partnering with the Grand Bahama Port Authority, GBDevco and many other public and private organizations to test new solutions and accelerate the advancement of viable solutions from concept to reality.
With this Blue Climate Initiative support, the Blue Action Lab is building a centralized hub on Grand Bahama where innovation can be rapidly tested, structured, financed, and scaled through a world class network of industry leaders, impact investors, research institutes, non-profits, and entrepreneurs. While taking a holistic ‘ridge to reef’ approach, the Blue Action Lab is initially focused on ocean-based solutions that address the immediate challenges facing The Bahamas. Favored strategies deliver substantial social, economic, and environmental benefits such as employment, increased access to fresh food and affordable housing, and improved air and water quality - and of course, resilience to big storms.
“We would like to thank the Blue Climate Initiative for recognizing the work done and planned in the coming years by the Blue Action Lab team. At the Blue Action Lab we are looking to enable solutions to the big issues facing many Bahamians and other coastal communities after the tragic effects of COVID-19 and hurricanes like Dorian,” said Rupert Hayward, co-Founder and President of the Blue Action Lab, “We hope to make Grand Bahama a leader in developing the solutions to climate change and tap into the emerging $27 trillion market for resilient technologies. This strategy will boost our economy with diversified and inclusive growth, while mitigating the effects of big storms, rising seas and environmental degradation. I would like to thank all those who have supported the Blue Action Lab to date, especially the Grand Bahama Port Authority and Michael Pintard, the Minister of Marine Resources and Agriculture, who as strategic partners have been instrumental in breathing life into this important project.”
Janot Mendler de Suarez, advisor to the Blue Action Lab, also working with the World Bank on climate risk, disaster risk financing and resilient food systems, echoed this sentiment adding, “It is very exciting that The Bahamas, through the Blue Action Lab, is now at the forefront in this global repositioning of small island states as large ocean nations and engines for climate resilient development. Building models for blue economic growth and innovation here will help lead The Bahamas and island nations out of the pandemic, while charting a course that will enable them and many other communities to thrive for generations to come.”
The Blue Action Lab is currently onboarding its first cohort of companies.
Exemplary projects include:
- Sustainable aquaculture and mariculture
- Renewable energy innovation (solar, biomass, wind, wave, algae)
- Ecosystem restoration (mangroves, ‘ridge to reef’)
- Resilient coastal engineering
- ESG blue economy and climate smart technology
- Distributed desalination plants
- Waste management and circular economy solutions
- Clean marine transportation
- Youth Environment Ambassadors
Coral Vita and AgriSea, two of the Blue Action Lab’s cornerstone enterprises, are prime examples of how the Blue Action Lab is working to build the capacity of Grand Bahama to maintain a thriving community and ocean environment in the face of a changing climate. Coral Vita is a pioneering reef restoration company, growing resilient coral at up to 50x natural growth rates. AgriSea is working to solve world hunger by designing and implementing cropping systems for high salt conditions, such as salinated soils and coastal ocean waters.
Driven by young, dedicated entrepreneurs these innovative, triple-bottom line companies provide a glimpse of a sustainable and resilient future for island communities. Unfortunately, significant barriers exist to making these kinds of breakthrough businesses a reality. Lengthy and expensive permitting and immigration processes can, in some cases, be more of a challenge than raising capital.
The Blue Action Lab is addressing these barriers from several angles. First, The Action Lab’s location in the free-trade zone of Freeport offers key advantages. Established partnerships with the Government of the Bahamas and the Grand Bahama Port Authority allow for streamlined permitting processes and careful access to thousands of acres of undeveloped coastal and marine environments. At the same time, the Action Lab is using its extensive network of advisors and impact investors to connect innovators with the funding sources they need to get off the ground - and into the water.
Rashema Ingraham, advisor to the Blue Action Lab and Executive Director of Waterkeepers Bahamas said, “The Blue Action Lab understands the importance of inclusive and equitable sustainable development for the Bahamas and I am looking forward to working with them and our communities both here in Grand Bahama, and in the wider Bahamas, to makes sure the Blue Action Lab initiatives represent the concerns and aspirations of those communities.”
The Blue Action Lab is the kind of innovative institution needed to face the exigencies of the 21st century and reimagine how ideas are translated into action. The model is one that can be replicated throughout the world as island nations deal with the challenges on the forefront. The time for talk is over, the time to act is now.
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