I am presently at the United Nations Climate Change Conference (COP27) in Sharm El-Sheik, Egypt, as a key player in the representation of overseas territories and small-island developing states, whose livelihoods are increasingly affected by the effects of climate change.
On Monday 14th November, I was pleased to meet and liaise with incoming UK Overseas Territory (OT) Minister The Rt. Hon. Lord Zac Goldsmith. The Rt Hon Lord Goldsmith of Richmond Park is the Minister for Overseas Territories, Commonwealth, Energy, Climate and Environment at the Foreign, Commonwealth & Development Office (FCDO). He replaces Rt. Hon. Jesse Norman MP who served for a brief period following Rt. Hon. Amanda Milling MP.
Among the issues discussed was a need for truer representation of the OTs at international conferences such as COP27, considering that the OTs make up about 90% of the UK’s oceans and areas significantly affected by climate change. The appointment of The Rt. Hon. Lord Goldsmith as OT Minister is in fact opportune, as his professional interests and innate passions comprise nature and the environment. During their meeting, The Rt. Hon. expressed his enthusiasm about the opportunity he now has to develop those areas in our respective territories.
The OTs represented at COP27 are British Virgin Islands, Anguilla and Falkland Islands, amongst other world leaders including the new UK Prime Minister Rishi Sunak, Barbados Prime Minister Mia Mottley, U.S. President Joe Biden, and the host President Abdel Fattah El-Sisi of Egypt. Further OT representation will follow COP15 in December of this year and again at COP28 in 2023. It’s incumbent upon OT leaders to continue conversations such as this, so that our priority areas can be presented to the UK in a way that results in meaningful change.
The Rt. Hon. Lord Goldsmith said that he is pleased to be our representative, and has pledged his support with coordinating financial and technical resources to mitigate the effects of climate change in our different regions.
I shared with the Minister that his dialogue with the OT Minister was promising.
I invited him to visit the BVI to see the work that the Government of National Unity has done to reform and restructure the public service since May 5th.
It is important to recognise and strengthen the work that’s being done on an international, regional and local level to better the Virgin Islands and charter our own course.
We look forward to The Rt. Hon. Lord Goldsmith’s tangible support while we build a BVI we can be proud of for generations to come.