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News : Bahamas Information Services Updates Last Updated: Oct 5, 2019 - 2:02:30 AM

UB-North conference aims to improve Bahamas’ hurricane resilience – call for conference papers
By University of The Bahamas, Office of University Relations
Oct 4, 2019 - 4:00:52 PM

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Nassau, THE BAHAMAS - The ruined neighbourhoods, flattened infrastructure, and rising death toll that Hurricane Dorian left behind have made planning for adaptations to climate change - and its myriad effects - even more urgent.

University of The Bahamas-North is providing a platform for extensive and reflective national conversations on making our settlements, islands, systems and policies more storm resilient and robust. Mitigating the impact of future natural disasters is the goal of the next Sustainable Grand Bahama Conference, whose focus has shifted to “Hurricane Dorian: Reflecting, Reimagining, Rebuilding.” Although the conference is scheduled for next March, citizens, scholars and thought leaders are being encouraged to consider and propose a roadmap to position the nation to better withstand killer storms. A call for papers has been launched.

“We invite practitioners, academics, policy makers, everyday citizens, civic leaders to convene and discuss the way forward and the lessons learned post-Dorian,” said Dr. Ian G. Strachan, Vice President for UB-North in Grand Bahama.

Scheduled for 5–6 March 2020 in Freeport, the unique convergence is expected to boost the country’s collective intelligence in the way it plans, prepares and responds to storms. A particular focus is how to better weather the next big storm and how to rebuild smarter.

“I think that given what we have just gone through, the magnitude of this disaster, the implications are broad for so many aspects of public policy. I think our intention has got to be to reach out to the new Minister that was just appointed, the new ministry that was just created and we have got to come out of this conference with a list of recommended policy actions and steps which we share with the Office of the Prime Minister, with Mr. Iram Lewis and all other members of Cabinet whose responsibilities are impacted by those recommended action steps,” Dr. Strachan noted.

The conference objective is to spark a coherent, national conversation – actionable intelligent dialogue from the best and brightest which could ultimately identify overlooked areas requiring focused efforts. Hurricane Dorian pummelled Abaco and Grand Bahama with monstrous sea surges and violent winds leaving thousands displaced and a death toll that is still climbing. The UB-North campus in Grand Bahama was severely damaged. Though classes have resumed in Freeport at temporary locations, the campus in east Grand Bahama is shut down.

“We do not just want conference papers,” Dr. Strachan explained. “What we want out of these papers and these discussions is a list of recommendations and actions which we propose the government, non-governmental organizations (NGOs) and others take.”

As change and improvements happen, the Vice President said the University would be happy to engage in continuous post conference dialogue with government and other stakeholders. Dr. Strachan said UB is uniquely positioned to host these types of conversations.

“In the University environment you have academic freedom. You have freedom to pursue the truth using the tools of your discipline - scientific or critical tools. This particular storm was so devastating, so historic, and so unprecedented that emotions are running extremely high. It’s been polarizing and of course it will inevitably continue to be politicized along partisan lines,” said Dr. Strachan.

“The University provides a neutral space, the opportunity for a level of neutrality and objectivity. That is what is needed in this particular moment, not that one is attempting to avoid the truth but the truth in itself is always complex.”

He added: “The University – having no political axe to grind, wanting to discover the truth, wanting to reveal and disseminate the truth, and wanting to create spaces for visions for the future that can inform public policy – is uniquely placed, and the right place for that to happen.”

As The Bahamas eyes restoration, the University believes every citizen has a stake in seeing the nation become more agile and robust in planning and response.

“We face a hurricane season every single year and that has got to be something that we begin to think about more intelligently,” said Dr. Strachan.

“How do we prepare our average citizen to live in a world like this? How do we help them to build homes? How do we plan communities with this knowledge in mind and of course how do we utilize and deploy our scarce resources in a way that is most effective to protect and to enable us to rebuild in the shortest possible time?”

For further conference details and to submit papers, interested persons should email ian.strachan@ub.edu.bs. The deadline for submissions is 1st December 2019.

Submission topics include, but are not limited to, the following:

1. The Science of Dorian
2. Storm Intensification: Science or Myth?
3. The State of Meteorology in The Bahamas
4. Protecting Water Supply Before, During and After Disasters
5. Forecasting, Warnings and Public Behavior
6. Power Generation and Restoration
7. Construction Codes in the Face of Rising Sea Levels
8. Hurricane Shelters: Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities
9. State Capacity for Emergency Rescue: The Way Forward
10. NEMA: A Deep Dive
11. Evaluating the Public Health System’s Post-Storm Performance
12. Politics and Practicalities of Disaster Aid
13. Communications Systems During National Emergencies
14. Geopolitics of Global Warming and Small Island Developing States
15. Disaster Capitalism
16. Race, Class, Ethnicity in the Wake of Dorian
17. Social Media: Emergency Response and Recovery
18. Living, Working, Investing in Flood Zones
19. New Standards in Hurricane Preparedness for the Average Citizen
20. Grand Bahama’s Statistical Storm Record: Policy Implications
21. Learning from Other Disasters Around the World
22. Insuring for Storms
23. The Logistics, Politics and Economics of Displacement
24. Trauma and Public Health: The Way Forward 
25. The Abaco Experience
26. East End: What Went Wrong?
27. Evacuation Protocols
28. The Role of NGOs
29. Citizen Rescue, Citizen Organizing   


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