Premier of the British Virgin Islands, Dr. the Honourable D. Orlando Smith, OBE and Chairman of the Overseas Countries and Territories Association (OCTA), has successfully concluded a series of meetings in the BVI with political leaders, officials, and delegates from the European Union (EU) and Overseas Countries and Territories (OCTs).
On Friday, 27th February, the Premier along with European Commissioner for International Cooperation and Development, Mr. Neven Mimica, opened the 13th OCT-EU Forum. Premier Smith also chaired a roundtable on regional cooperation that considered how OCTs can work together to unlock their potential. The delegates also discussed the best means by which OCTs can sustainably manage their natural resources.
In an interview with the Department of Information and Public Relations, Premier Smith stated, “It was a great honour and privilege to serve as OCTA Chair and for our territory to host the the week of EU activities. I am particularly pleased by the presence of Commissioner Mimica, one of the EU’s most senior officials, and that the BVI will benefit from the thematic and regional envelope of the EU’s 11th EDF funding for OCT”.
Earlier in the week, the Premier chaired the OCTA Ministerial Conference under his theme “Unlocking the value of the OCTs: Sustainable development through green innovation, competitiveness and green growth”. The Political Leaders and officials of over 20 Overseas Countries and Territories (OCTs) discussed how the OCTs can develop centres of excellence in areas of science, education, health, tourism, and financial services, as well as how to position themselves as regional hubs in areas such as and including communications, logistics, transshipment and transportation.
The Premier also steered negotiation of the conference’s Political Declaration to a successful conclusion in which sustainable energy and climate were selected as the sectors for projects under the thematic envelope of the 11th European Development Fund (EDF) amounting to 14 – 16 million euros.
Among other things, the political declaration reiterated the OCTs desire to realise their full potential by leveraging their relationship with the European Union.
In addition, Premier Smith co-chaired the Caribbean Regional Conference of OCTs from 23rd – 24th February where he helped to broker two sub-sectors of concentration, (renewable energy and marine biodiversity) for regional programming funding in which 40 million euros will be made available for joint programming by Caribbean OCTs.
The meetings’ end brings the Premier’s OCTA Chairmanship to a successful close; and he is succeeded by Prime Minister of Curcao, Mr. Ivar Asjes.
The supporting staff for the Premier during the week of meetings included Minister for Natural Resources and Labour, Dr. the Honourable Kedrick Pickering, Financial Secretary Mr. Neil Smith, Acting Permanent Secretary Mr. Brodrick Penn, Deputy Secretary Mrs. Elvia Smith-Maduro, Deputy Director of the International Affairs Secretariat, Ms. Najan Christopher and Director of the BVI London Office, Mr. Benito Wheatley.