Premier Alden McLaughlin hosted the first environmental workshop for the U.K. Overseas Territories Association on Monday, one of a series of meetings he and other government officials are having in London this week.
The topics discussed at the workshop included environment funding, ocean conservation strategy and the inclusion of Overseas Territories in the U.K. government’s “Green Future” 25-year environmental plan, according to an announcement on the meeting.
Also discussed were new innovations that can assist with monitoring and protecting the environment, even within those smaller territories with little access to technology.
At the workshop, Mr. McLaughlin highlighted the environmental progress Cayman has recently made, including government’s procurement of 634 acres of protected land, increasing the total amount of protected land here to 4,111 acres – about 6.3 percent of Cayman’s total landmass.
“The Premier highlighted to those present that Overseas Territories are custodians of environmental assets of global importance, due to the fact that over 90% of the UK’s biodiversity is in the territories with many endangered species, also that the territories hold a third of the world’s albatross, a quarter of the world’s penguins and the largest coral atoll on earth,” an announcement from government stated. “Lastly, the territories make up over 70% of the UK’s marine estate in the world.”
Also on Monday, Mr. McLaughlin chaired a U.K. Overseas Territories Association (UKOTA) Political Council Meeting.
The Political Council meeting incorporated an in-depth review of the activity of the organization throughout the year. Matters discussed included the provision of a part-time secretary to support the work of UKOTA, issues to do with British Overseas Territory citizenship of children born out of wedlock, as well as the hosting of next year’s 2019 pre-Joint Ministerial Council meetings.
Also discussed were issues relating to the safeguarding of children, constitutional matters, passports, environment and climate change, European Union engagement and OT student engagement.
“It was agreed that the BOT citizenship issue should be raised at the JMC meetings and that the Cayman Islands will host the 2019 pre-JMC meetings at the beginning of July,” stated an announcement from government on the meeting. “This will allow Overseas Territories leaders to participate in our sixtieth anniversary celebrations.”
Perhaps the most important part of this week’s meetings is Cayman’s discussion with U.K. officials on Friday about the territory’s constitution.
The premier and other government officials have stated that they are pushing for more autonomy in Cayman’s legislative affairs.
“The constitutional safeguards we are striving for are to have aspects of our Constitution clarified to ensure that the Cayman Islands government has autonomous capacity in respect of domestic affairs, and that the U.K. Parliament will not legislate, directly or indirectly, without consultation or, in matters of domestic autonomy, without the consent of these Islands,” said Mr. McLaughlin last week, leading up to the meetings. “Our goal is to put the Cayman Islands in the best possible position constitutionally to govern our own affairs, to resist constitutional overreach by the UK Government and Parliament, and to continue to thrive and prosper as a modern, progressive and successful democracy.”
Other people attending the meetings include Opposition Leader Ezzard Miller, Financial Services Minister Tara Rivers, Commerce Minister Joey Hew and Attorney General Samuel Bulgin.