The UK and its Overseas Territories, including Cayman, have committed to work together on climate change with the aim of securing agreement on “ambitious action” to tackle the issue on a global scale at the COP26 Summit in Glasgow next year.
The commitment was given through a joint communique from UK and OT leaders over the weekend following the end of the 2020 Joint Ministerial Council meeting which was held virtually last week.
Leaders also discussed how each territory has been managing the COVID-19 pandemic.
“The UK Government reaffirmed its continued support to the Territories during the pandemic and committed to supplying the Territories with COVID-19 vaccines. The UK and Territories shared information about challenges and successes around COVID-19 and committed to continue to work collaboratively to combat health crises, both now and in the future,” the communique added.
Prince Charles, according to a media statement issued at the end of the meeting, also addressed leaders ahead of their discussions on the environment and COP26, “showing the importance the UK puts on its relationship with the Overseas Territories and recognising their huge contribution to our biodiversity”.
Leaders commit to developing plan
As part of the discussions ahead of next year’s UN Climate Change conference in Scotland, OT leaders have agreed to “communicate a territory-led plan for climate change adaptation and mitigation, which contributes towards global carbon emission reductions”.
The UK Government and Overseas Territories, in their statement, said they “will continue to work together closely in the lead up to COP26, to ensure the Overseas Territories’ interests are represented”.
“As the host of COP26, the UK Government endeavours to offer the Overseas Territories opportunities to showcase their environmental initiatives at the summit, including in areas such as transitioning to renewable sources of energy and disposal of waste. For both biodiversity and climate change actions, the UK Government commits to provide the Overseas Territories with technical and financial assistance where this is required,” the statement said.
UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson spoke at the opening of the JMC, where he reiterated that Britain was “absolutely committed” to the Overseas Territories.
“In spite of everything, of the difficulties we are going through, we remember that we are united by deep ties of kinship and friendship and history and values. We in the UK government are going to make sure we continue to intensify that partnership,” he said.
Wendy Morton, the minister responsible for Falklands and Gibraltar who chaired much of the Joint Ministerial Council, said Overseas Territories are part of the UK family.
“We take our responsibilities towards them extremely seriously, whether that means working with them to defend the OTs from threats, helping preserve the natural environment, or supporting OTs in times of crisis – as we have with COVID-19. When we face global challenges we face them together,” she said.
Leaders also committed to consider exploring whether a children’s commissioner or similar role might be appropriate for each OT.
This came after they heard from children’s commissioners for England and Jersey about their roles in speaking up for children, influencing policy, assisting governments and promoting children’s rights.
These independent offices, similar to an ombudsman, look after the rights and protection of children.