‘Increasing Protection Of Our Fragile Ecosystem’

November 26, 2021 | 3 Comments

“Bermuda is committed to increasing our protection of our fragile ecosystem, reducing our carbon footprint, and mitigating the impact of climate change,” Deputy Premier and Minister of Home Affairs Walter Roban said.

Speaking in the House of Assembly today [Nov 26] the Minister said, “I rise to provide an update of my participation in COP 26. Honourable members of this House will be aware that I had the opportunity to represent Bermuda at this year’s UN Climate Change Conference COP 26 in Glasgow between 31st October – 12th November.

“Governments of the UK’s Overseas Territories are custodians of internationally important habitats which span the globe from the Antarctic to the Caribbean, the Indian Ocean to the Pacific.

“All fourteen Territories are on the front line of the impact of climate change as vulnerable small island states. We are also at the forefront of renewable energy, nature- based solutions; adaptation and resilience, ocean protection, and, with global leadership in catastrophic risk reinsurance, climate finance.

The UKOTA presentation on the UK’s Overseas Territories, including Bermuda:

“Bermuda is not immune or isolated from the impacts of climate change. Our island is exposed to rising sea levels, increasingly severe and frequent storms, and to changes in ocean currents and weather patterns.

“Isolated, beautiful, and unique, Bermuda is home to the most northerly coral reef system in the Atlantic Ocean which is a critical habitat for marine biodiversity as Bermuda is the only landmass in the Sargasso Sea, a floating rainforest of Sargassum seaweed that is a home and spawning site for several species of threatened and endangered marine wildlife. We are a treasure trove of environmental wealth, a capital of ocean conservation, and a key player on the global stage of financial risk management.

“As an island community vulnerable to the effects of climate change, and as a global capital of climate related financial risk management, we are determined that Bermuda will participate in the international response to ensure our collective safety and prosperity.

“To that end, we continue to declare that Bermuda is committed to increasing our protection of our fragile ecosystem, reducing our carbon footprint, and mitigating the impact of climate change.”

The Minister’s full statement follows below:

Mr Speaker, I rise to provide an update of my participation in COP 26. Honourable members of this House will be aware that I had the opportunity to represent Bermuda at this year’s UN Climate Change Conference COP 26 in Glasgow between 31st October – 12th November.

Through our London Office and UK Representative, Bermuda holds Chairmanship of the United Kingdom Overseas Territories Association [UKOTA]. UKOTA is recognised in the United Kingdom as the official Association which exists to advance the interests of the United Kingdom Overseas Territories, facilitate co-operation between them and promote solidarity. The Association demonstrates the collective partnership between the Territories and Her Majesty’s Government of the United Kingdom. As such the UK Government facilitated our presence COP 26 as part of the UK Delegation Overflow of which Bermuda led a delegation of 7 from across the Territories.

Mr Speaker, it was an honour for myself to have led the delegation. Governments of the UK’s Overseas Territories are custodians of internationally important habitats which span the globe from the Antarctic to the Caribbean, the Indian Ocean to the Pacific. All fourteen Territories are on the front line of the impact of climate change as vulnerable small island states. We are also at the forefront of renewable energy, nature- based solutions; adaptation and resilience, ocean protection, and, with global leadership in catastrophic risk reinsurance, climate finance.

Together with the UK the Territories represent the world’s fifth largest marine estate of which 75% is protected; containing over 90% of the UK’s biodiversity. We recognised that we are vital to the UK meeting its pledge by 2030 to protect 30% of the world’s oceans.

Bermuda is not immune or isolated from the impacts of climate change. Our island is exposed to rising sea levels, increasingly severe and frequent storms, and to changes in ocean currents and weather patterns. Isolated, beautiful, and unique, Bermuda is home to the most northerly coral reef system in the Atlantic Ocean which is a critical habitat for marine biodiversity as Bermuda is the only landmass in the Sargasso Sea, a floating rainforest of Sargassum seaweed that is a home and spawning site for several species of threatened and endangered marine wildlife. We are a treasure trove of environmental wealth, a capital of ocean conservation, and a key player on the global stage of financial risk management.

As an island community vulnerable to the effects of climate change, and as a global capital of climate related financial risk management, we are determined that Bermuda will participate in the international response to ensure our collective safety and prosperity.

To that end, we continue to declare that Bermuda is committed to increasing our protection of our fragile ecosystem, reducing our carbon footprint, and mitigating the impact of climate change.

Mr Speaker, we are particularly proud of the work being done under the auspices of the ‘Bermuda Ocean Prosperity Programme’, which will manage the ‘Marine Spatial Plan’. The Marine Spatial Planning will develop and legally adopt an enforceable, comprehensive, EEZ-wide plan designed to sustainably manage resources and protect 20% of Bermuda’s waters as a no-take fisheries replenishment zone. Our ambition looking forward is to be a thriving ‘Blue Economy’ with the diversification of our national revenue and strengthen our sustainable use of our ocean resources and economic growth, improved livelihoods and jobs, and continued ecosystem health.

Mr Speaker, all of Bermuda’s success and ambition in fighting climate change was featured at COP 26. I had the pleasure in chairing an Overseas Territory event in the UK Pavilion on Nature Day entitled “Our Vision for Healthy Oceans”. The event organised through UKOTA together with the UK Department for Environment Food and Rural Affairs [DEFRA] was thematically focused on raising awareness, protecting our oceans and how the Overseas Territories are taking action against climate change. The event importantly featured a powerful video collaboration of all the Overseas Territories highlighting how climate change impacts our marine life and sustainability. If any Honourable Member has not had the opportunity to see this video, I strongly encourage viewing this video which can be found on the UK Government YouTube channel.

Mr Speaker, immediately after the event, I met with the UK Minister for the Pacific and the International Environment, the RT Hon. Lord Zac Goldsmith, who later acknowledged, “What these leaders are doing is simply heroic. Our overseas territories are protecting an area of water bigger than India. It’s one of the best Conservation wins of my generation.” Lord Zac Goldsmith’s acknowledgement went further with commitments in the Joint Ministerial Council [JMC] in which the Premier presided as President of the UKOTA Political Council. The UK Government committed to work closely with Overseas Territory Governments where technical expertise was requested and to prioritise climate change and environmental issues in future funding for the Territories. The Overseas Territories committed to continuing to formulate ambitious climate targets and policies.

As Honourable Members will note last week, I announced that Bermuda is the first Overseas Territory to participate in the UK Government’s Blue Shield Programme which supports the implementation of a comprehensive monitoring and surveillance regime within our Exclusive Economic Zone [EEZ].

Mr. Speaker, while in Glasgow, I also participated in two other events. I was a guest speaker at the Bermuda Business Development [BDA] Luncheon which was hosted by HUB Culture. I was also a guest panellist on the Island Innovations Webinar@ COP.

In London, we held an event with the BDA and the Association of Bermuda Insurers and Reinsurers [ABIR] to speak further to invited guests, including members of Non-Government Organisations [NGOs] and environmental investment companies.

Mr. Speaker, I am proud of the work achieved at COP 26 in terms of heightened recognition within the UK and international community on Bermuda’s efforts and success in this space. We agreed that a greater level of engagement will continue for all Overseas Territories including at future conventions of Biological Diversity and Climate Change summits.

Our efforts attracted the attention and were welcomed by His Royal Highness the Duke of Cambridge at the JMC. His Royal Highness stated: ‘I am pleased the Overseas Territories were represented at COP 26 and you were able to not only voice your concerns but also your efforts to tackle the immense problems you face.’

Mr Speaker, the work continues and our partnership with the UK and our fellow Overseas Territories in tackling climate change and accessing international funding is at the forefront of this Government’s work.

Mr Speaker, in closing, I would like to recognise the stellar work of the London Office, Ms Kimberley Durrant and her team, in organising UKOTA’s participation in COP26. Through the efforts of Ms Durrant, UKOTA had the highest number of participants that it has ever had in a COP event. She worked tirelessly to ensure that our schedules, the videos, and the Nature Day event was well organised.

Thank you, Mr. Speaker

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Comments (3)

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  1. Question says:

    Pretends to be concerned about the ecosystem but his planning is so bad we have to dump our trash in a landfill.

  2. Huh??!!?? says:

    How in the world can we say that we are a capital in ocean conservation and continue to operate the airport landfill site? We literally dump our trash in the ocean and burry it. Not to mention that this is our hazardous waste site! This huge eyesore is the first impression to many of our arrivals and a hard pill to swallow by anyone who is truly concerned about the environment. If they truly are concerned about the environment then they should increase the amount of materials that we recycle and decrease the amount of toxic materials permitted for use. For example Bermuda allows for the use of solvent based spray paints. They also allow for people to use them in residential areas without a proper paint booth and that exposure is detrimental to the environment and residents in the area. Funny that we have not committed to the switch to waterborne paints and realized that even still and proper paint booth is the only way to control the VOC’s. This is just one issue of many but piss poor planning has us in a position where the government has authorized burying all of our trash until further notice. Absolutely pathetic!!!

    • iyiyi says:

      We truly have a major shortage of qualified Bermudians in so many categories including government ministers from any of the parties . Maybe we need to outsource for experienced ministers to get us back on track !!!!!!

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