By Craig Brewin, firstname.lastname@example.org
The British Overseas Territories are being represented at the COP26 climate change conference being held in Glasgow this month. The OT delegation, coordinated by the UK Overseas Territories Association, consists of Vincent Wheatley (BVI’s Minister for Natural Resources, Labour and Immigration), Quincia Gumbs-Merie (Anguilla’s Parliamentary Secretary), Walter Roban (Bermuda’s Deputy Premier), Josephine Connolly (Minister of Tourism for Turks and Caicos), Wayne Panton (Premier of Cayman Islands) and Stephanie Martin (Environment and Conservation Policy Officer at the Tristan da Cunha). Mr Roban, the head of the delegation, announced in advance of the Conference that the need to address climate change is now “urgent.”
“Participation at the conference is an important move,” said Vincent Wheatly. “Small island states such as ours will bear the brunt of the impacts of climate change.” OTs will take the opportunity to “advocate for greater technical and financial assistance from the international community to adapt and mitigate the impacts.” Wayne Panton added: “The impact of climate change is frightening, especially for small islands states like ours. Our voices need to be heard loud and clear, and I intend to add mine to those of our regional colleagues who share the same vulnerabilities and concerns.”
The delegation will have access to the Blue Zone, which was the venue for the World Leaders Summit, and the space that brings together delegations from all 197 parties. The OT representatives also attended the Commonwealth Reception at the World Leaders’ Summit on 2nd November, jointly hosted by the Prince of Wales and the United Kingdom Prime Minister, Boris Johnson.
The OTs will also get to showcase their work at a session held in the Presidency Pavilion on Saturday 6th November, the Summit’s nature and land use day. Mr Roban, who is heading the OT delegation, will be leading an event entitled “Our Vision for Healthy Oceans”, which will be thematically focused on raising awareness, protecting the oceans and how the Overseas Territories are taking action against climate change.
Roban announced that “through our official presence in the UK Pavilion, I will showcase the precious and vulnerable natural environments of the Overseas Territories and generate high-level engagement to support our efforts to ensure adequate protection of these precious resources for future generations. The Overseas Territories, including Bermuda, represent the world’s sixth-largest marine estate and over 90% of the UK’s biodiversity. So we are vital to the United Kingdom meeting its pledge to protect 30% of the world’s oceans by 2030”.
The OT participation in the Summit was signalled in a Joint Communique issued after last year’s Joint Ministerial Council. In this, each OT committed to communicate a territory-led plan for climate change adaptation and mitigation in advance of the Summit, which contributes towards global carbon emission reductions.