Assistant Information Officer
Department of Information & Public Relations
The British Virgin Island’s response to global warming and its engagement with the EU on Financial Services were stated recently during meetings of the Overseas Countries and Territories Association (OCTA) and European Union (EU).
Director of the BVI London Office and United Kingdom (UK) and European Union (EU) Representative, Mr. Benito Wheatley; Deputy Director of the BVI London Office, Dr. Sandra Besson; and Director of the International Affairs Secretariat, Ms. Sylvia Moses, represented the Virgin Islands at the meeting held in Brussels from February 23 to 26.
The BVI delegation attended the OCTA Ministerial Conference on February 25 where Mr. Wheatley co-chaired a meeting of the OCT/EU Financial Services Partnership Working Party (PWP). He delivered a report on the Overseas Countries and Territories’ (OCT) engagement with the EU on financial services for the year. Mr. Wheatley also signed the OCTA Political Declaration and Administrative Resolution on behalf of the Territory.
Mr. Wheatley said, “The BVI was very active in 2015 in helping to facilitate policy dialogue between the OCTs and EU on financial services matters. We will continue to work with our partners to achieve mutually beneficial outcomes in this area which is of critical importance to the BVI and other OCTs”.
The Director also made an official statement on climate change in which he highlighted the BVI’s response to global warming , particularly the establishment of the Virgin Islands Climate Change Trust Fund to finance adaptation activities, and elaborated the Territory’s position on the 2015 Paris Agreement on climate change.
He stated, “I made clear that climate change is an issue that is beyond the ability of any individual country or territory to solve on its own, no matter how wealthy, and that the international community should ensure that adequate support to assist the efforts of Small Island Developing States (SIDS) such as BVI is made available via the Paris Agreement since they are largely not responsible for global warming, but have to cope with its costly negative effects such as heavier rainfall, stronger and more frequent storms and coastal erosion.”
The Director and Dr. Besson also attended a workshop on regional programming for Caribbean OCTs funded by the 11th European Development Fund (EDF) on February 23, ahead of the OCTA Ministerial Conference and the 14th OCT-EU Forum. The delegation also held discussions with other OCT officials and representatives to identify priorities and potential projects on sustainable energy and marine biodiversity. This was followed by a trilateral meeting on February 24 between the Caribbean OCTs, the European Commission and the four Member States of Britain, France, Netherlands and Denmark, to advance the programming process.
The workshop was preceded by an earlier meeting on February 9, in Brussels attended by Mr. Wheatley; Deputy Secretary in the Ministry of Natural Resources and Labour, Mr. Joseph Smith-Abbott; and Environmental Officer, Ms. Angela Burnett-Penn. During this workshop, the OCT’s agreed on priorities for climate change and identified potential projects that will be funded under the thematic component of the 11th EDF.
Premier and Minister of Finance, Dr. the Honourable. D. Orlando Smith, OBE, served as OCTA Chairman in 2014 and successfully hosted the OCTA Ministerial Conference, 13th OCT-EU Forum and related meetings in the Territory in February 2015.