Ministry of Natural Resources and Labour
Climate Change
Release Date:
Monday, 13 February 2023 - 10:59am

Statement by the Honourable Melvin M. Turnbull

Minister for Natural Resources and Labour

Third Sitting of the Fifth Session of the Fourth House of Assembly

10th February 2023

Meeting of the
Parliamentary Observatory on Climate Change and Just Transition (OPCC)

I am happy this morning Madam Speaker to share the continued efforts of the Ministry of Natural Resources and Labour, and to highlight the significance of our environment on everything that is important to us, including the weather, our fisheries, our coastlines, our beaches, our tourism product, our sailing industry, our agriculture, our real estate, and if you really think about it, all that makes the British Virgin Islands what it is.  Madam Speaker, the environment, though it may not be the first thought, is perhaps this territory’s greatest and most prized asset… but it is at risk, by the formidable force of global climate change.

Parliamentarians from Latin America and the Caribbean will come together virtually on Monday afternoon to begin consultation on joint legislative research and proposals for implementation across countries, that will benefit our environment and we hope reverse the trajectory of climate change.  Madam Speaker, I am excited to attend and to also serve as a moderator for the discussions.  This meeting comes off the heels of the United Nations Climate Change Conference of November 2022 in Sharm El-Sheik, Egypt, which I attended in representation of the BVI.

The Parliamentary Observatory on Climate Change and Just Transition (or OPCC, from its acronym in Spanish) is an initiative carried out jointly by parliamentary leaders from various countries in Latin America and the Caribbean and from other regions of the world.  Its aim is to constitute a shared information tool on the state of environmental legislation and parliamentary treatment in the region and beyond.

The OPCC’s first joint statement, which marked the start of the observatory, was signed at the 26th United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (COP 26) held in November 2021, by fifteen parliamentarians from twelve Latin America and Caribbean countries.  The joint declaration was signed by the BVI, as well as legislators from Argentina, Brazil, Bolivia, Chile, Colombia, Costa Rica, Curaçao, Guatemala, Turks and Caicos Islands, Montserrat, Uruguay.  During my attendance at the 2022 UN Climate Change Conference, member states again signed a follow-up declaration re-affirming our commitments.  By signing, the OPCC members declare that we are committed to fighting against climate change, a challenge of a global nature which therefore requires the cooperation and coordination of the States and communities of the world.

Madam Speaker, I am compelled to iterate that Caribbean member states and all small island states of the world are Climate Change’s most susceptible victims.  Our carbon footprints may be the smallest, but we bear the brunt of tremendous environmental threats, due to a changing climate that is hotter and drier with more extreme weather events, rising seas and new diseases.  We continue to see a decline in our ecosystem and its ability to rebound. 

What makes partnerships like the OPCC crucial, is the pooling of resources.  Larger countries with access to abundant human and technical resources have the luxury of managing climate change independently.  We, however, have to be strategic about our investments and smart about our partnerships.  Our aim at the Ministry of Natural Resources and Labour is to write legislation, policies and procedures that are backed by research of best practices across the world.  Our aim is to be socially responsible and financially effective.

Madam Speaker, within the scope of the OPCC, 271 current environmental laws have been identified to date (423 if decrees are included) and 189 environmental bills under specific treatment in the last two years in nine countries (Argentina, Bolivia, Brazil, Chile, Colombia, Costa Rica, Guatemala, Turks and Caicos Islands and Uruguay).

In partnership with the Economic Commission for Latin America and the Caribbean (ECLAC) of the United Nations, the OPCC is presently developing a data platform, which will present a new, transparent, and free form of visualizing the legislative activity of member countries, through indicators, interactive graphs, action panels and comparable data in dashboard format.

Monday’s meeting will begin discussions about the observatory’s first in-person summit, to be announced at a later date; access the OPCC’s progress over the last six (6) months; and collect contributions from legislators regarding the proposed activities for 2023.

The Ministry of Natural Resources looks forward to our participation in these events that are to come and development of the OPCC’s legislative joint platform, particularly as it relates to strengthening our ability to preserve these Beautiful Virgin Islands.  I thank you Madam Speaker.



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