On Wednesday 13 June, 2018

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 have included a discussion about a Joint Position Paper for the Overseas Territories with regard to their collective relationship with the UK, where all territories were able to share their own experiences and input to the paper. A session on climate change enabled Territories so 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 Cayman’s position and developments in Disaster Preparedness. “Having had the opportunity to see first hand the devastation caused to BVI, TCI and Anguilla, and through the assistance provided by the Cayman Islands last year on the ground in those territories, we have learned many valuable lessons. HMCI  has reassessed and looked for ways to strengthen our own disaster preparedness, response and recovery plans and mechanisms.”  Regarding the discussions that ensued at the meeting, Minister Rivers further commented,  “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. It is clear that the unified approach taken by not just the Caribbean Territories but all of the OTs has had an impact on the UK Government’s and the FCO’s approach to these matters. I Iook forward to participating in future discussions with the OT Minister to help establish a better coordinated approach and mechanisms for support of the OTs in times of need such as this.”

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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