Statement by the Honourable Melvin M. Turnbull
Minister for Natural Resources and Labour
Second Sitting of the Fifth Session of the Fourth House of Assembly
26th January 2023
Madam Speaker, today I am pleased to further highlight recent developments within the Ministry of Natural Resources and Labour pertaining to funding. The Ministry is in receipt of a grant from the European Union and their partners Expertise France in the amount of 927,890 Euros or approximately $965,000 US dollars through the Overseas Countries and Territories’ Resilience, Sustainable Energy, and Marine Biodiversity Programme - RESEMBID. This grant builds on the support received from the European Union to assist with environment management activities in the Virgin Islands and will enhance the current Water Quality Monitoring Programme.
Prior efforts centred on the implementation of the Global Climate Change Alliance project, which delivered tangible projects in the communities of Cane Garden Bay and Brewers Bay, in the form of coastal stabilisation and drainage to increase the resilience of those communities.
As mentioned in the previous statement, The Virgin Islands relies on the coastal and marine areas for its recreation, food sources and tourism amenities. Moreover, we rely on clean coastal waters to support life and livelihoods. Our potable water comes from desalinated water collected from the nearshore. Therefore, the standard of care for the sources of our drinking water needs to be high. The Water Quality Monitoring Programme in part, provides the base of evidence required to inform actions leading to better outcomes for our coastal and marine areas and enhance human well-being.
Madam Speaker I am sure that all of us present here, as well as the community at large can appreciate when I say that we’ve experienced noticeable damage in recent times to our marine ecosystems, particularly to some reefs and coastlines. The RESEMBID project titled Strengthening the Virgin Islands’ Water Quality Programme to Inform Effective Environmental Management and Spatial Planning, could not have come at a more opportune time. It builds on the water quality programme undertaken by the Ministry of Natural Resources and Labour’s Environment and Climate Change Unit. The project strives to address the constraints that exist within the current Water Quality Programme through:
- The redesign of a comprehensive, water quality monitoring programme,
- Capacity building of the Ministry of Natural Resources and Labour’s staff and its implementing partners, which include the H Lavity Stoutt Community College, the National Parks Trust and the Department of Information Technology,
- Procurement of a vessel to support the work of the Environment Unit and much needed water-quality testing and IT equipment, including hardware and software to support expanded monitoring and enhanced data warehousing and analysis; and
- Establishment of water quality baselines for areas and water-quality parameters of concern, that are not currently covered by the existing programme.
The products of this project will therefore benefit environmental managers, portable water managers, decision makers within the Government of the Virgin Islands, fisheries managers, tourism managers, the yachting industry and fisher folks Madam Speaker.
The project will create a strong scientific evidence base that will further support enhanced environmental legislation, marine spatial planning and decision-making that will contribute to the increased resilience of our coastal and marine waters and biodiversity.
I would like to extend a heartfelt thank you to the European Union, Expertise France, and our colleagues at RESEMBID for the financial resources required to take action and protect our marine resources. Our lives depend on a clean and healthy natural environment and this project will significantly enable the Territory to achieve its sustainable development goals for the conservation of our precious natural resources.