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Overseas Territories Heads of Government Meet in London

14 June 2018, 8:00 AM
Politics & Government
radiocayman

Overseas Territories Heads of Government met at Church House in Westminster for their annual United Kingdom Overseas Territories Association (UKOTA) pre-JMC meeting. The Pre-JMC is a precursor to the full Joint Ministerial Council meeting which will be held in London in November. The pre-JMC allows the OT leaders to agree their key agenda items for discussion with the UK in November. There will also be a report provided by the UK Overseas Territories Association (UKOTA) on their work over the past year.

Talks included a discussion about the Overseas Territories collective relationship with the UK, where all territories were able to share their own experiences and comment on the need for improvements. A session on climate change enabled Territories to share areas of concern and advantage, including the UK’s “blue belt” initiative that promotes Marine Conservation Zones in the United Kingdom and Overseas Territories, and involvement in the extension of the Paris Agreement and United Nations Climate Change Conference.

Hurricane recovery and preparedness was discussed and islands affected by Hurricanes Maria and Irma last year were able to update the Overseas Territories about their recovery and preparedness for the season this year. Thanks were given to the Cayman Islands by the British Virgin Islands and Turks and Caicos Islands who outlined how assistance rendered by their sister Territories following the hurricanes had been so welcome and crucial in the aftermath.

Immigration issues that affect British Overseas Territories in the UK were also discussed.

The Premier commented “These meetings serve as an excellent platform for Heads of Overseas Territories Governments to discuss relevant collective issues and to be updated by Representatives in the UK with regard to ongoing topics for discussion with Her Majesty’s Government. In this forum, we can plan our agenda for the JMC in November, so that we have one collective voice.”

Hon. Tara Rivers, Minister responsible for Hazard Management under the Ministry of Home Affairs, gave an intervention about developments in Disaster Preparedness and the discussion that ensued. “It was heartening to hear the solidarity expressed among the Overseas Territories in relation to supporting those Territories affected by last year’s devastating hurricanes. I believe the unified approach taken by not just the Caribbean Territories, but by all the OTs has had an impact on the UK Government’s and the FCO’s approach to hurricane preparedness and disaster response in the region. I Iook forward to participating in future discussions with the Minister responsible for the Overseas Territories to help establish a better coordinated approach and mechanisms for support.”

During the bilateral meeting held with Cayman earlier in the week, Lord Ahmad indicated that he intends to convene a Ministerial meeting following the technical meeting planned in London later this month to develop a suggested mechanism to strengthen the support of the Caribbean region territories during hurricane season and in the aftermath of devastating hurricanes.

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