I made the decision last week to participate in the Black Friday march, as members of Government were invited to attend. I did so because I have deep love for our beautiful country and respect for the democratic right for free speech. I saw it as an opportunity to have a meaningful conversation about our future.

I am glad to have attended and to have heard the voices of Bahamians. To speak with so many of you reinforced my belief in open discourse. The peaceful display by Bahamians on Black Friday was truly a testament to the strength of the democracy of our country.

As Minister of Environment and Housing, I am acutely aware of how the decisions we make today affect our tomorrow. Every day, I am focused on collaboratively addressing the challenges facing our country, be it climate change – in which we have a great stake – employment or the economy. My Ministry, through its expansion of marine protected areas, the creation of the Youth Environmental Corp, and the signing of the historical Paris Agreement, to name a select few, has shown its commitment to investing in the future of Bahamians.

Black Friday march event organizers, in their open letter, called for a policy to facilitate the use of renewable energy.  I remind them that this has been done. The National Energy Policy speaks to our goal of a minimum of 30% renewable energy penetration in our energy matrix by 2033, and we have begun the national dialogue on the matter. The Government has also amended the Electricity Act to allow for renewable energy generating systems and interconnection to the grid as well as established the regulator for the electricity sector- the Utilities Regulation and Competition Authority (URCA).

The Residential Energy Self Generation (RESG) programme that will allow homes and businesses to use solar generating systems to connect to the grid under a net billing framework with BPL is currently before URCA for its review and finalization. We have been, and continue to be, committed to policies that deliver positive change.

The Government is working tirelessly every day for a stronger Bahamas. The National Development Plan, the National Youth policy, the Shared Vision for Education 2030 – these are all initiatives focused on building a modern and prosperous Bahamas.

I must express my great disappointment with the event organizers for turning down the invitation from the Prime Minister for a sit down meeting. Their arrogance lost them the opportunity to have a purposeful, productive exchange about the issues raised. That was a mistake.

I believe that the only way to address the challenges facing our country is to do so together and by staying open to talking to each other. Divisive politics and rhetoric are not conducive to a stronger Bahamas. I ask that we all come together as one and build The Bahamas we wish to see for our children.

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