Prime Minister of Barbados gives tribute for the passing of Dr Hugh Sealy, Roofs To Reefs champion and pioneer

News of the passing of Dr Hugh Sealy, with whom I have maintained a very close friendship since the days we attended primary school together, has left me in a state of shock.

I have lost a true friend and trusted advisor, and Barbados, the region and small island developing states across the globe have lost one of their most passionate and qualified defenders when it comes to the environment and the impact of climate change on the earth’s ability to sustain its people.

I dare to say that most Barbadians do not know now, and probably never will truly know, the extent to which he dedicated all his training, expertise and energy to the protection of this country and the development of its people.

In fact, when we won the Government and one of the most urgent challenges facing the country was the leaking South Coast Sewerage System, we asked Dr Sealy to return home from Grenada, where he was teaching at St. George's University, and assist us. He did so willingly, in the interest of his country.

In fact, when we won the Government and one of the most urgent challenges facing the country was the leaking South Coast Sewerage System, we asked Dr Sealy to return home from Grenada, where he was teaching at St. George’s University, and assist us. He did so willingly, in the interest of his country.

For years, Dr Sealy has been advising governments on the protection and safe exploitation of scarce potable water resources. He has gone beyond the call of duty to advise on how we should treat to the run-off of rainwater from our lands into the sea, carrying with it pesticides and other pollutants onto the reefs, in the process destroying them.

Dr Sealy has been at the forefront of our Roofs to Reefs programme, one of whose principal objectives is to ensure that Barbadian homes are fitted with resilient roofs that are designed to withstand the more frequent and stronger hurricanes global warming is expected to spawn.

And when my Government determined that the water woes that had afflicted eastern parishes for decades had to be brought to an end, Dr Sealy was there offering sound scientific advice. That the problem no longer exists is due in no small part to Dr Sealy’s expert participation.

It is true that Dr Sealy was born in Canada and that he maintained his Canadian citizenship — but every ounce of his being was Barbadian — every thought from his mind was about making a better Barbados for Barbadians. Until his death, he was this Government’s Special Envoy for Climate Change, but he also distinguished himself with his negotiating skills on behalf of all Alliance of Small Island States (AOSIS) nations in the most critical global climate-related discussions of recent times.

It is truly heartbreaking to think that someone with so much left to contribute to the betterment of mankind has let us so soon, but I am comforted that in just six decades on this earth he has contributed much more than his fair share.

He did not shortchange his fellow man and for that, I will miss him immensely.

To his children, sisters, his students and colleagues at the Centre for Resource Management and Environmental Studies (CERMES) at the Cave Hill Campus of the University of the West Indies, consulting partners and grieving colleagues in the engineering profession, I extend heartfelt sympathy on behalf of the Government and people of Barbados.

May his soul rest in peace.

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