Beautiful Virgin Islands

Saturday, Mar 25, 2023

Overseas Territories Climate Change Meeting

Overseas Territories Climate Change Meeting

During the week of August 15, 2022, in Nassau, The Bahamas, the heads of the Caribbean region met in advance of COP 27, which will be held in Egypt from November 6-18, 2022.

Hosted by Hon Philip Brave Davis QC, Prime Minister of the Bahamas, at the Baha Mar Resort, regional heads, including Hon Dickon A.T. Mitchell of Grenada, Hon Roosevelt Skerrit of Dominica, Hon Mia A. Mottley of Barbados, and five Overseas Territories (OTs) were met at the Lynden Pindling International Airport by Hon Fred A. Mitchell and Hon Pia T. Glover-Rolle.

The OT representatives were as follows; Cayman Islands - Premier the Hon. G. Wayne Panton, the Virgin Islands - Premier Dr. the Hon. Natalio D. Wheatley (R7), Bermuda - Deputy Premier Hon Walter H. Roban, Turks and Caicos Islands - Hon Josephine O. Connolly, and Anguilla - Hon Quincia Gumbs-Marie.

Each delegation consisted of Technical and Policy experts in environmental protection.

● Anguilla - Ms Carencia Rouse, Director of Natural Resources

      - Cayman Islands - Mrs Lisa Hurlston-McKenzie, Senior Policy Advisor (Environment & Resiliency)

● Turks and Caicos - Ms Lormeka Williams, Director of Department of Environment and Coastal Resources

● Virgin Islands - Ms Angela Penn-Burnett

Common issues

The conference, which was fully funded by the United Nations Framework for Climate Change (UNFCC), focused on mitigation and financing for these efforts.

Unfortunately, due to a variety of reasons, the OTs are not eligible for most international climate finance facilities. Nevertheless, the OT representatives spent three days working together on environmental issues common to the OTs.

Whether it was around a table pouring over ideas, experiences, or expertise, the people of the OTs would have been so proud to see how their representatives worked together as one. Out of these meetings, provisional plans were going forward for the following:

*  To engage with the UK Government (via Lord Goldsmith and OTs’ UK Government representatives) on the participation of OT Ministers and technical staff at COP27 under a UK Delegation.

*  Resurrecting the UKOTs Declaration on Climate Change for presentation to the UK and possibly at COP27.

*  Careful consideration of extending the UK’s ratification of the Paris Agreement to each OTs, and discussion with the UK Government about ‘carve-outs’ for the OTs from onerous obligations.

*  Expansion of BVI’s Climate Change Trust Fund to facilitate the financing needs of fellow OTs and/or utilisation of the Commonwealth Climate Growth Fund spearheaded by the Cayman Islands for funding future blue-green mitigation and adaptation projects.

Many islands, One People

While we may be the islands with some of the smaller populations in the region, we have vast marine and terrestrial resources among us. Our islands account for 90 per cent of the natural biodiversity of the United Kingdom OTs. With tourism, a significant part of our economies, our responsibility as representatives of these beautiful and unique islands is to educate ourselves, our populations, and the world on what must be done to protect what God has blessed us with.

On a personal note, it is a joy to see the OTs working increasingly closer together. It is incumbent on us to seize every opportunity to show ourselves that although we are many islands, we are one people.

Ms Angela Penn-Burnett, centre, was the technical expert in the Virgin Islands delegation to The Bahamas


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