Nassau, Bahamas — The G. T. R. Campbell Small Island Sustainability Research Complex was officially opened during an opening at The University of The Bahamas (UB), Thursday, 25th October.
The complex is the result of a gift from the Freedom Foundation, led by Lowell Mortimer. It was built to honour the memory of Mr. George T. R. Campbell, a Scottish Naval Architect. During the 1960s, Campbell began visiting The Bahamas and in 1973 he formed a management company (Campbell Shipping) in Nassau. He died in Tokyo, Japan in 1993.
Delivering remarks on behalf of the Prime Minister was the Minister of Environment and Housing, Hon. Romauld Ferreira, who said that with the rapid development of science and technology, the world is facing complex problems like never before.
“Small island developing states, like the Bahamas, particularly find themselves investigating practicable solutions to energy stability, waste management, disaster response and climate change adaptation as they simultaneously address socio-economic vulnerability issues such as poverty, crime and food insecurity,” said Minister Ferreira. “To prepare our younger generation to meet the needs of their future and to address current environmental challenges, our educational systems, have to undergo a wide range of reforms.”
Accordingly, UB has placed itself in the position to prepare for the next generation with research centres. Spanning over 17,000 square foot, the George Campbell Small Island Sustainability Research Complex was built with the environment in mind.
President of the UB, Dr. Rodney Smith said that stakeholders took many issues into consideration.
“We were careful and deliberate in determining the location for this teaching and learning research complex. We wanted it to be a part of our thriving and bustling Oakes Field Campus, where students studying for one of our degrees in this signature sustainability programme can easily interact with other students, creating multi-disciplinary synergies for dynamic research,” said President Smith.
“The building itself will help to further uplift the area, adding beauty and interest to our campus. It has been designed so that we can satisfy the criteria required, as we aim to be one of the first LEED certified buildings in The Bahamas. LEED stands for Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design. LEED Certified buildings are internationally recognized as Sustainable or ‘Green’ buildings.”
He said, “According to the definition, such buildings are “designed and built using strategies aimed at improving performance across all the metrics that matter most: energy savings, water efficiency, CO2 emissions reduction, improved indoor environmental quality, and stewardship of resources and sensitivity to their impacts.”
The building has three classrooms and a GIS teaching lab, 6 research labs, including 1 aseptic tissue culture Lab – which means that it will be a sterile lab, 11 staff/research offices, and office spaces for visiting researchers, graduate students and laboratory technicians. The six active research laboratories will focus, specifically, on
- Plant Tissue and Bio-technology
- Geospatial Visualization and Informatics
- Food and Natural Products Innovation
- Plant, Soil, and Water Sciences
- Applied Laser and Optical Science Research
- Chemical and Environmental Analysis
Dr. Smith said that the labs would help to revolutionize teaching, research and study in the Small Island Sustainability, or SIS programme.
“I really want to highlight that this building will not only be a hub for student and faculty research at the University but a national and international hub for sustainability research in and for the benefit of The Bahamas – there is space for visiting faculty and researchers. Our programme is a flagship programme, and the research that we produce, will help to change our country in myriad ways for the better,” he said.
He said that once successful, the centre would be able to help with several environmental concerns including:
- Mitigation of the adverse effects of environmental and developmental damages;
- Conservation and preservation of biodiversity;
- Restoration of ecosystems;
- Increased self-sufficiency and innovation;
- Geospatial visualization and analysis to determine the most sustainable and optimal utilization of our natural resources;
- Improved comprehensive development planning;
- Improved environmental stewardship;
- Research that can be of use to the government in the formulation of public policy; and, finally research on the many aspects of plants and crops, as well as the quality use of bush medicines and other natural products.
By: Betty Vedrine