Bahamas, The

Explore historical and projected climate data, climate data by sector, impacts, key vulnerabilities and what adaptation measures are being taken. Explore the overview for a general context of how climate change is affecting Bahamas, The.


Adaptation strategies for the Bahamas are highlighted by several strategic documents, which include the National Environmental Management Action Plan (NEMAP) for the Bahamas and The Bahamas National Report- Integrating Management of Watersheds and Coastal Areas in Small Island Developing States (SIDS) of the Caribbean (which outlines recommendations for sustainable development in the coastal zone of the Bahamas and promotion of a National Integrated Coastal Management Program).  In response to the challenges faced by climate change, The Bahamas developed a National Climate Adaptation Policy in 2006 and a National Energy Policy in 2013. The Bahamas has also worked together with other Caribbean Community (CARICOM) countries to form an implementation plan to deliver the strategic elements and goals of a Regional Framework for Achieving Development Resilient to Climate Change (2009-2015) which was developed to manage the effects of climate change on development. The country’s Nationally Determined Contribution (NDC) outlines adaptation strategies for a range of sectors, including tourism, agriculture, health, and coastal resources. 

Adaptation Options for Key Sectors

  • Use drip irrigation systems.
  • Cultivate drought-resistant crops and varieties able to thrive in varying degrees of soil salinity.
  • Educate on water conservation practices.
  • Re-use water and use of water with low salinity for irrigation.
  • Increase importation of water and quantities of water barged to the Family Islands where dry periods are anticipated.
  • Monitor precipitation levels and their impact on the depth of the freshwater lenses.
  • Encourage water rationing during times of drought and low rainfall.
  • Monitor epidemiology of diseases carried by insect vectors whose populations may increase as warming occurs.
  • Locate solid waste facilities away from open water to prevent contamination during storm surges and flood events.
  • Increase size and numbers of marine protected parks.
  • Protect habitats, namely coral reefs, mangroves and seagrass beds, which act as nurseries for fishery species.
  • Use existing marine parks as nurseries for coral and transplant coral to reefs outside the parks for regeneration.
  • Enforce penalties for poaching to protect populations of already vulnerable species.
  • Implement coastal zone management.
  • Construct hard and soft engineering defenses to protect the coastline and coastal infrastructure.
  • Implement retreat policies to minimize property damage and losses.
  • Place infrastructure on the landward side of the roadways to provide them with additional protection from extreme natural events.
  • Consolidate land planning and management functions into a single department.
  • Review and update outdated legislation.
  • Enforce building codes and guidelines; train and deploy more building inspectors and enforcement officers.
  • Implement and enforce zoning regulations which prohibit construction within a specified distance of the high water mark.
  • Protect arable lands and coastal mangroves, which buffer against coastal erosion and hurricanes, from encroachment by tourism developments.

Gaps and Needs

  • Baseline studies that assess stocks of fish and other marine species in both coral and mangrove ecosystems need to be conducted. This will provide the basis for future studies in order to identify trends and allow comparisons to be made against time and climatic factors.
  • Since ciguatera poisoning is already so prominent in the Bahama Islands, more research needs to be conducted on the influence of sea surface temperatures on the occurrence of red tides or harmful algal blooms (HABs) in order to make an informed assessment of the potential impacts of sea temperature rise on HABs in the future.
  • In light of the rise in sea surface temperature (SST) projected for the Bahamas, research should include assessment of the impact of increased SST on the breeding and migration patterns of important fish species.
  • The aim of the Government of Bahamas is to expand agriculture and reduce the food import bill, even in the face of projected drier conditions for the central and southern islands. Agricultural studies that focus on drought-resistant crops and crop varieties that are able to thrive in varying levels of soil salinity therefore need to be conducted in order to ensure food security.
  • Research should include mapping of arable land, mangroves, pine forests and groundwater reserves in order to adequately inform land zoning regulations. Enforcement of these zoning regulations will help prevent encroachment on these valuable natural resources by urbanization and tourism development.
  • Legislation and Policy: No single national legislation for the development and management of land resources; legal provisions are found in various Acts and are implemented by a number of agencies. No policies or legislation to adequately regulate problems or conflicting uses in the coastal zone on a comprehensive basis and relevant regulation is found in diverse sectoral and ad hoc legislation. In some instances, the legislation is outdated and requires review.
  • Building Codes: Problem with enforcement of building codes partly due to the lack of human resources such as building inspectors and insufficient trained field officers for investigation. No building codes for construction in sensitive areas, for example sand dunes or flood areas, and no clear definition of “no build zones” such as flood prone areas and Environmentally Sensitive Areas (ESAs).
  • Agencies: Absence of a centralized environment ministry or department with a clear mandate for all aspects of environmental planning and protection. The triple responsibility of management, monitoring and enforcement remains a challenge to government because of the many agencies involved. This has resulted in blurred jurisdictional lines and an overlapping of both duties and efforts.
  • Family Islands: Centralization of staff and other resources in New Providence which could result in the alienation of the Family Islands from the environmental management process and a loss of their knowledge and input on local ecosystems. Environmental management functions, including monitoring and enforcement, are highly centralized on New Providence Island. Many key institutions do not have resident officers in the Family Islands. This reduces the quick response capability in these islands.
  • Information Management: Systems and procedures for documenting and filing important information, and for making the information available to the public and institutions requesting it, are largely absent.
  • Water: While information is available on freshwater resources per island and monthly precipitation levels, data showing annual fluctuations in freshwater supplies over time as well as correlations between rainfall levels and freshwater supplies are lacking. Furthermore, data on water withdrawals by sector provided by the Food and Agriculture Organization is only available for one year, and the tourism sector is not included.
  • Fisheries: There is a need for more information on the occurrence of red tides which contain ciguatera and other toxins in the Bahamas. In terms of quantification of marine species stocks, while the economic contributions of various fish species for 2004 are provided by the Department of Fisheries (2005), stock quantities of these commercially important species in any year are not available.
  • Agriculture: Crop research reports highlighting the influence of temperature and precipitation on crop yields are lacking from the Ministry of Agriculture, Marine Resources and local government.
  • Land Use: There is a lack of readily available national information that could be of immediate use for coastal zone planning and local decision-making, such as information on flood prone areas. Flood plain maps need to be developed. Furthermore, the storm surge atlas is incomplete.