Spectacular: Our beautiful shoreline is a priceless, natural asset — but what will it take to keep it that way? *Photo by Herb T. Marshall
Spectacular: Our beautiful shoreline is a priceless, natural asset — but what will it take to keep it that way? *Photo by Herb T. Marshall

BEST’s Blueprint on sustainable development aims to outline what it means to be a sustainable community and what it will take to get there.

Over the coming weeks the Bermuda Sun will be publishing the text of the Blueprint, section by section.


Introduction

The Bermuda Environmental Sustainability Taskforce (BEST) Blueprint for Environmental Sustainability is intended to be a launching pad for effective discussion of, and appropriate action on, the various environmental concerns facing Bermuda today.

Our Blueprint doesn’t propose all-encompassing solutions, but rather outlines the many environmental, social and economic issues that BEST believes Bermuda’s leaders and decision-makers must be addressing.  We hope that it will be received as an outline of what it means to be a sustainable community and what it will take for us to get there.

Environmental sustainability is defined as meeting the needs of the present generation without compromising the ability of future generations to meet their needs. 

The United Nations 2005 World Summit resolved that sustainability requires the reconciliation of environmental, social and economic demands.  These are more commonly known as the “three pillars” of sustainability, and a sustainable community can be represented as being at their confluence. 

Following this, a strong appreciation for the complex interconnections between the physical environment, the economy and society is an integral part of any viable sustainability blueprint. Our Blueprint therefore proposes a holistic approach when articulating environmental concerns and, while organized into sections representing each of the three pillars, recognizes that many of the areas discussed could easily be considered under a different banner due to the high level of interconnectivity between the three.

Sustainability is at the confluence of the physical, social and economic environments.

The issues currently facing Bermuda are broad and our Blueprint is but a window. Our prime interest is in having Bermuda become a more hospitable and nurturing environment for current and future residents and visitors, and a positive global example of environmental sustainability. 

We have focused on the content of our Blueprint. The process, equally important but not discussed here, to achieve cost-effective and long-term sustainable solutions will require comprehensive research, extensive and far-reaching public consultation, cost-benefit analyses and strong political will.

We look forward to constructive discussion of the content of our Blueprint, as well as the opportunity to work with Bermuda’s political, business and community leaders, and the public, to preserve and enhance the quality of life for all. 

1. Physical Environment

The physical environment has an influence on a vast spectrum of social and economic issues ranging from health and wellness to the success of tourism and international business.  A dictionary definition puts the physical environment as “the part of the human environment that includes purely physical factors (such as soil, climate, water supply),” highlighting the interconnectivity between human and our surroundings.

Bermuda is one of the most densely populated territories in the world.  Our natural resources and landmass are limited, requiring that we use them in a sustainable manner if we are to have long-term benefits and avoid negative health effects.

Given our small size and reliance on the natural beauty of the island itself to attract tourist and, to a lesser degree, business clients, maintaining and improving the physical environment is particularly critical.

In the preface to her paper on Environmental Education in the 21st Century, University professor  Joy Palmer writes “few would doubt the urgency and importance of learning to live in sustainable ways…of conserving the world’s natural resources…and of taking care of the Earth today so that future generations may not only meet their own needs, but also enjoy life on our planet.”

The protection of our physical environment is reliant not only on well-considered, environmentally-conscious decisions by Government leaders, but also on the actions of each and every resident and visitor. 

Much of our environmental impact is determined by our individual and collective consumer habits, energy consumption patterns and the many other choices we make in our everyday lives.

A key ingredient for maintaining the long-term sustainability of our physical environment is an ongoing education of all Bermudians on the importance of our physical environment, locally and globally, and the reasons we should preserve it.

• This document was researched and written by members of the BEST research team led by: Alaina Cubbon, Stuart Hayward, Frances Marshall and Marlie Powell.

To explore these issues further, join us at BUEI on October 23rd for a showing of the documentary film (Trusting Rain) followed by discussion on “Bermuda’s Water Ways — Past Present and Future. Tickets $20, available at the Music Box (295-4839) and the BEST office (292-3782).

In the next issue: Natural Resources.