Installs solar, mature trails, and revamps environment education
NASSAU, BAHAMAS — The Bahamas Girl Guides Association (BGGA) is set to model environmental sustainability at its new headquarters building and redeveloped the site with a new solar energy system, nature trails and revamped environmental education modules.
The greening of key areas of BGGA operations was made possible with a USD 46,000 grant from the United Nations Development Programme-(UNDP)-implemented GEF Small Grants Programme in The Bahamas and implemented over the period January 2020 to June 2022.
The GEF SGP grant supported the installation of a 4-kilowatt grid-tied solar power system on the grounds of the facility with a battery backup supply; the creation of a nature trail and Bush Tea Garden at the BGGA’s Camp Discovery grounds; and the development and implementation of environmental education modules taught through their interactive Camp Discovery experience.
The roof of the new headquarters building has the capacity to accommodate an additional twelve 360-Watt solar panels, which can potentially supply the BGGA Headquarters with up to 4,000 Watts of additional power.
UNDP Resident Representative Denise E Antonio who toured the new facilities and installations Monday (19 July) commended the BGGA team for its progressive steps in illustrating environmental sustainability through its operations and outreach. She said by becoming a living example of the messages they preach the Girl Guides were providing credible and powerful lessons to emulate.
Speaking to the practical and cost-effective example of solar energy, Antonio said the UNDP Multi-Country Office in Jamaica, through its support of renewable energy initiatives over the years, has observed significant cuts in operational costs, energy bills, and carbon emissions at beneficiary organizations.
She called for greater investments in renewables and offered UNDP’s support in advancing regulatory frameworks and practical solutions for the benefit of the people of The Bahamas.
“The Association is well-poised to be a change agent and to play an integral role in the sustainable development of our country,” said Elma Garraway, Assistant Chief Commissioner and Chair of the Properties Committee, in referring to its membership base of 2300 young girls, and its programmes on New Providence, Grand Bahama, Abaco, Eleuthera, Spanish Wells, Andros, Exuma, Long Island, Cat Island San Salvador, Crooked Island and Inagua.
Garraway said the sustainable design elements under the GEF SGP-supported project are designed to increase the public’s awareness of solar energy as a viable power source for residences and businesses and to generally influence behavioral change.
“The education and awareness components of this project may be as, or even more important, than the installation of a solar power system on our roof. It is only through awareness that we can bring about the behavioural changes that are necessary for sustainable development,” she said.
Garraway noted that the redeveloped site will aim to use the natural environment for challenging and exciting environmental education.
“We hope to prepare our members, young girls, women and leaders to thrive in this ever-changing world by fostering environmental awareness and motivating them to take action for a brighter future,” Garraway said.
The new Headquarters will house administrative offices as well as training and conference rooms, and dormitory-style accommodation for delegates of its training programmes
Camping and caring for the environment are major components of the Girl Guide Programme which acquired its 10-acre campsite in 1973 and called it Camp Discovery. The site has been used by guides, rangers and leaders for more than 45 years.
GEF SGP has financed 69 projects in The Bahamas since it began operations in Nassau in 2010.