Minister for Natural Resources Melvin ‘Mitch’ Turnbull has issued a public apology to all the members of the Virgin Islands Climate Change Trust Fund Board whose membership – as he puts it – were wrongfully revoked in 2019.
He further invited all those members to serve again.
During a statement last night, Turnbull said the board was highly energised and all members were hardworking, committed, passionate and high performing.
“Revocation of their appointments was not only counterproductive and wrong, but it was also unlawful. It is now incumbent upon me as the Minister for Natural Resources and Labour with whom responsibility for climate change rests, to offer a sincere apology on behalf of the Government of The Virgin Islands
to each member of The Virgin Islands
Climate Change Trust Fund Board who was duly appointed and serving and whose membership was wrongfully revoked on April 24, 2019,” the Natural Resources Minister said.
The members of the board included the Chairman Edward Childs – representing any sector responsible for making contributions to the Fund; the Deputy Chairman John Klein – representing the tourism sector; Dr Katherine Smith – representing an academic or research organisation; Dr Shannon Gore – representing a non-governmental organisation or community-based organisation; Shelly Bend – representing the financial services sector; and Ronnie Lettsome – representing an individual or ordinary resident of the territory.
“I have outlined the significance of the Virgin Islands
Climate Change Trust Fund which is directly tied to the urgent need to re-establish the Trust Fund Board … In the best interest of this territory, including respecting the rule of law, [I move to] to reinstate the board by humbly inviting all members whose appointments were revoked on April 24, 2019, to serve again with a reset of their terms of appointment,” Turnbull said.
The Minister said with the apology and his administration’s commitment to move forward with the implementation of the Trust Fund while strictly adhering to the noble principle on which it was established, he hopes all former members will be willing and able to serve again.
“Where this may regrettably not be the case, to ensure that the work of the Trust Fund is continued, any vacancies will be filled following the open, transparent, public process outlined in the Act,” Turnbull said.
“There are innovations and moments in the course of each country that shape and define its potential and future. The Virgin Islands
Climate Change Trust Fund is one of those innovations and this is one of those moments,” he added.
The Natural Resources Minister explained that the legal establishment of the Fund puts the Virgin Islands
boldly on the map both regionally and internationally as an innovative leader in sustainable financing for climate change adaptation and mitigation in small islands.
“Let’s take this opportunity to right a wrong and put the Trust Fund back on a path to success to safeguard the future of these beautiful islands we are blessed to call home. As Minister for Natural Resources and Labour, I look forward to a fully appointed board in short order and I pledge my support in the successful implementation of the Virgin Islands
Climate Change Trust Fund,” Turnbull said.