Statement By Premier And Minister Of Finance
Dr. The Honourable D. Orlando Smith, OBE
At The Third Sitting Of The Fourth Session Of The Second House Of Assembly
On Thursday, February 12, 2015
13th Annual European Union (EU)-Overseas Countries And Territories (Oct) Ministerial Conference And Forum
Madame Speaker over a year ago, I took up the position of chairman of the Overseas Countries and Territories Association (OCTA).
Upon taking up this position I set out in my agenda, a number of Objectives for the advancement of the Overseas Countries and Territories (OCTs) that I wished to pursue within the framework of the revised Overseas Association Decision (OAD), and across four areas of work that included political visibility, programming, partnership and participation.
My theme during the term of my Chairmanship Madame Speaker is “Unlocking the Value of the OCTs: Sustainable Development through innovation, competitiveness and green growth”.
Since taking up the Chairmanship of OCTA Madame Speaker my Government and representatives in the BVI London House have worked towards meeting these goals and have achieved concrete progress in several areas as follows:
Madame Speaker political visibility has been achieved through our attendance at:
- United Nations (UN) Third International Conference on Small Island Developing States (SIDS) in Soma between 1-4 September 2014;
- Mapping and Assessment of Eco-Systems Services (MAES Conference) in May 2014 in Brussels;
- The Third Global Biennial Conference on Small States in St. Lucia in March 2014 and;
- High-Level engagements with the ACP Secretariat in the person of the now incoming ACP Secretary General His Excellency Dr. Patrick Ignatius Gomes in April 2014.
As it relates to programming Madame Speaker, the Territory and all other OCTs which are a part of the OCTA group are participating in the Territorial Strategies for Innovation (TSI) Project which is currently being implemented.
The Regional Small and Medium Enterprise Development project for which the BVI is currently managing with funding from the 10th European Development Fund (10th EDF), has the participation of 12 Caribbean OCTs including the British, Dutch and French territories. In addition Madame Speaker, during my visit to Brussels on April 1, 2014, I accepted the invitation to host the 11th EDF Programming Seminar which will be held here in the BVI on February 23-24, 2015.
During my Chairmanship of OCTA Madame Speaker I have been able to form a number of partnerships with various international bodies and organisations such as:
- The Global Islands Partnership (GLISPA)
- The Outermost Regions – I co-hosted the Guadeloupe Biodiversity and Climate Change Conference in October 2014.
For the first time Madame Speaker, under my chairmanship, OCTs will be able to participate in the LIFE funding stream where they will be partners in a 2015 submission of a lion fish project under the EU LIFE programme.
Madame Speaker my chairmanship will culminate with the Territory hosting of the 13th Annual EU-OCT Ministerial Conference on February 26, 2015 and the 13th Annual EU-OCT Forum on February 27, 2015 at Maria’s By the Sea Hotel.
During these meetings Madame Speaker I will lead the OCTs engagement with the European Commission at the highest level, who will be represented by the European Commissioner for International Cooperation and Development Mr. Neven Mimica.
OCTs will meet to consider and reflect on how they have unlocked their value by leveraging their special relationship with the European Union (EU), as well as international and regional partners, to create regional hubs and centres of excellence.
OCTs will also reaffirm their commitment to the sustainable use of natural resources and emphasis the importance of coastal marine management and climate change adaptation.
Madame Speaker the OCTs’ recognise their economic, environmental, scientific and strategic value to the EU and wider world that can be developed through EU support for research and development in renewable energy, climate change, biodiversity, conservation, science and technology and other areas.
This gives the OCTs greater competitive advantages emerging from their association with the EU that could be capitalised upon for economic and other gains in their societies.
Madame Speaker I thank you.