Premier and Minister of Finance, Dr. the Honourable D. Orlando Smith, OBE, joined Caribbean leaders in Martinique last week for a regional consultation with the President of France, Francois Hollande.
The leaders met on May 9 to agree on a regional position on climate change ahead of the 21st Session of the Conference of Parties (COP) to the United National Framework Convention on Climate Change scheduled to take place in Paris later this year.
Premier Smith was accompanied to the meeting by Deputy Secretary in the Ministry of Natural Resources and Labour, Mr. Joseph Smith Abbott, and Acting Deputy Director of the International Affairs Secretariat, Ms. Najan Christopher,
The Premier attended the plenary sessions aimed at the coordination of a Caribbean negotiating position on climate change. He also held informal talks with fellow Caribbean leaders and President Hollande.
Premier Smith stated that the British Virgin Islands’ participation in the summit was essential. “We are among the Caribbean’s small island developing states (SIDS) that will be grossly affected by the negative effects of climate change, including exposure to more severe and frequent storms and rapid sea level rise,” he said.
Premier Smith added, “I greatly appreciated the initiative taken by President Hollande to hear the views of Caribbean leaders on climate change and to galvanise support for a global climate change deal in Paris later this year. The BVI supports efforts to bring current negotiations to a successful conclusion and hopes our Territory will be included in the mechanisms of support designed to assist SIDS with adaptation to climate change”
The British Virgin Islands and other Caribbean territories received support from the Organisation of Eastern Caribbean States (OECS) for inclusion in the global climate change deal to be agreed in Paris in December.
Chairman of the OECS, Prime Minister of Dominica, the Honourable Roosevelt Skerrit stated, “This summit allows an opportunity for those territories that are unable to participate in the deliberations of the COP 21 in their own right, to articulate their concerns in the expectation that these too will find due prominence in the deliberations in Paris.”
President Francois Hollande expressed solidarity with the Caribbean’s small island developing states, stating that four of France’s overseas regions are located in the Caribbean, namely Guadeloupe, Martinique, St. Martin and French Guiana. “France is a Caribbean Country,” he said.
The French President urged Caribbean leaders to seize the opportunity of the UNFCCC COP 21 to work together to create projects, to help the region adapt to and mitigate the crippling impacts of climate change. He also stated that there are opportunities for funding by the Green Climate Fund.
The BVI is an Associate Member of OECS, Associate Member of the UN Economic Commission for Latin America and the Caribbean and Chair of the Caribbean Overseas Countries and Territories Council.