Column: OTs Continue To Work Together

September 6, 2022

[Opinion column written by Chris Famous]

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

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

The OT representatives were as follows: Cayman Islands – Premier the Hon. G. Wayne Panton, the Virgin Islands – Premier the Dr. the Hon. Natalio Wheatley, Bermuda – Deputy Premier Hon. Walter Roban, Turks and Caicos Islands – Hon. Josephine Connolly, and Anguilla – Hon. Quincia Gumbs-Marie.

Each delegation consisted of technical and policy experts in environmental protection.

  • Anguilla – Director Carencia Rouse
  • Cayman Islands – Mrs. Lisa Hurlston-McKenzie-
  • Turks and Caicos – Ms. Lormeka Williams
  • Virgin Islands – Ms. Angela Penn-Burnett

OTs UNFCC August 2022 (2)

Common Issues

The conference, which was fully funded by the United Nations Framework for Climate Change [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.

These issues include the following:

  • Sustainable tourism
  • Capacity building in terms of technical expertise to not only access available financing but get projects investment-ready. For example, the Caribbean Climate-Smart Accelerator is one such facilitator.
  • Need for knowledge, expertise, and resource sharing hub, similar to the Caribbean Cooperative MRV Hub, to which the OTs can access, benefit and contribute towards.
  • Development of a Blue Economy Strategy for the Caribbean Region, similar to what pertains to the Pacific Region, with the assistance of international partners and funding.
  • Solidarity around establishing a loss and damage financing facility for climate vulnerable countries and SIDS to be agreed at COP27 and operationalised by 2023, along with a 2% levy on oil exports to fund said facility.

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.

Blue Economy Bermuda August 2022

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.

OTs UNFCC August 2022 (1)

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Category: All, Environment