Premier and Minister responsible for Climate Change, Honourable Dr. Natalio Wheatley is satisfied that his recent participation in the Conference of Parties (COP28) in Dubai will aid the Virgin Islands in navigating the impact of climate change.
Premier Wheatley who led a three member delegation to the conference said that as a result of the collective representation of the OTs at those key meetings, there is now an agreement from the UK that the Territories will be engaged at the start of the cycle to prepare negotiating strategies for COP29 and COPs going forward.
The Premier said, “This provides the critical window that we needed to ensure that our concerns and issues are considered in the process and have a chance to make it into the global negotiations.”
Premier Wheatley highlighted that the Virgin Islands, along with the rest of the Caribbean region, stand on the frontlines of the climate crisis as they experience the worst and most severe impacts.
The Premier said, “Additionally, I am very pleased to report that the UK Minister of Energy Security and Net Zero, the Rt Honourable Graham Stuart, was open and receptive to the suggestion for a dedicated UK Climate Change Fund for its Territories.”
Premier Wheatley added, “We have agreed that the next step in materialising this be a formal request from the Territories, outlining the details of what is required, through the Minister responsible for the Overseas Territories as well as the Department for Environment, Food & Rural Affairs which is responsible for climate change adaptation in the UK”.
Honourable Wheatley also raised the concern for support on building resilience in the health sector which was also well received.
The Premier’s delegation included Minister for Health and Social Development, Honourable Vincent Wheatley; Climate Change Officer in the Ministry of Environment, Natural Resources, and Climate Change, Ms. Angela Burnett Penn and the Acting United Kingdom/European Union Representative, Ms. Tracy Bradshaw.
The COP is an annual event where countries that are party to the United Nations Framework Convention of Climate Change, review and agree joint efforts to limit the extent of climate change and to support the most impacted and vulnerable countries, like small island developing states, adapt to impacts.