Second Meeting, Alderney 2017

Conference participants at Island Hall, Alderney; Copyright: Dr Mike Pienkowski
Conference participants at Island Hall, Alderney*; Copyright: Dr Mike Pienkowski

Representatives from 13 UK Overseas Territories (UKOTs) and Crown Dependencies (CDs) from as far afi eld as Bermuda, Pitcairn and the British Virgin Islands participated in discussions on 27th and 28th April on the Channel Island of Alderney to discuss the future of the environment in their jurisdictions. The aim of the meeting was to develop the benefi ts of joint and collaborative working, and discuss common priorities and approaches to negotiations with the UK Government. This was only the second meeting of its kind, the first having been hosted by the Government of Gibraltar in 2015. The Environment Ministers’ Council was chaired jointly by Victor Brownlees, Alderney’s Chief Executive, and Dr John Cortés, Minister for the Environment of Gibraltar and was made possible by the work of the UKOTCF and the Alderney Wildlife Trust.

The Ministers’ Council has published its statement, which has been sent to those UK Government ministers with responsibilities in this area, and which expresses regret that UK Government again failed to send a representative to the meeting. The statement made a number of key points:

• In terms of UK’s responsibility for global biodiversity, the UKOTs are many times more important than metropolitan Britain, and these ecosystems are of great economic importance.

• The territory ministers expressed their concerns that UK Government no longer represents the territories adequately at international conferences, but now no longer includes in its delegations representatives of the territories. They expressed pleasure at the joint working by territory governments with UKOTCF and other NGOs, both to monitor progress in environmental conservation and to undertake some of the actions that achieve this. However, they were concerned at the lack of continuity or a coordinated approach to the territories by UK Government.

• The ministers’ statement noted that UK Government’s financial contribution to meet its commitments to conservation in the UKOTs does not meet the requirements identified by its own agencies nor by House of Commons Select Committees, and is not deployed in the most effective ways. It regretted also the loss of UK Government financial support: to help NGOs deploy volunteers to fi ll some of the needs, conferences to help conservation practitioners to be more effective, and for environmental education – all vital for the territories’ futures. It regretted also that work in support of territory conservation was still not given support from UK National Lottery funds. Although the territories themselves, helped by NGOs, continued to identify new funding, larger contributions from UK Government remained essential.

• The statement notes that the departure of UK from the European Union will remove a major funding source achieved only recently after many years of lobbying by NGOs. The UKOT Ministers echoed the recommendation of the House of Commons Environmental Audit Committee that UK Government should replace the potential environmental conservation funding lost to the territories as a consequence of ‘Brexit’, as there is no other source to avoid this set-back to conservation.

• The ministers identifi ed other negative consequences on their environments of ‘Brexit’, and called on UK Government to act to mitigate this. Such measures include assistance to territories to join other international agreements, and strong support to Gibraltar in resisting damage to its marine and other environment by Spanish activities. Gibraltar has been successful in using EU procedures to resist these – but this possibility will end with ‘Brexit’. The statement welcomed current initiatives by UKOTCF and partner organisations in the territories to empower local people to become champions of the natural environments on which their economies and well-being depend.

The full press release and statement is available here.

A video report of from this meeting on 27-28 April in Alderney is now available here. Hon. Sylvan Richards MP, then Minister of Environment, Government of Bermuda, is interviewed in Alderney here.

*From left to right: Mr John Young, Planning Officer, States of Alderney • Mrs Catherine Wensink, Executive Director, UKOTCF • Dr Sandra Besson, Deputy Director of the BVI London Office, • Ms Sarah Barnsley, Conservation Officer, UKOTCF, record of meeting and support • Mrs Ann Pienkowski, Hon. Environmental Education Coordinator, UKOTCF – videoing the meeting and support • Mr Willie Peggie, Director for Environment / Deputy Chief Officer, States of Jersey • Mr Victor Brownlees, Chief Executive, States of Alderney • Mr Chris Carnegy, UK Representative Tristan da Cunha, on behalf of the Island Council • Hon. Geoffrey Boot MHK, Minister of Environment, Food & Agriculture, Isle of Man • Hon. Kedrick D Pickering MD, Deputy Premier & Minister for Natural Resources & Labour, British Virgin Islands • Mr Adrian Lewis, Designate Acting Chief Executive, States of Alderney • Ms Marva J. O’Brien, Permanent Secretary, Ministry of Environment, Government of Bermuda • Hon. Sylvan Richards MP, Minister of Environment, Government of Bermuda • Ms Norma Paris, Chair of General Services Committee, States of Alderney • Dr Liesl Mesilio-Torres, Chief Executive Officer, Gibraltar Department of the Environment, Heritage & Climate-Change • Mr Stephen Warr, Senior Environment Officer, Gibraltar Department of the Environment, Heritage & Climate-Change • Deputy Barry Brehaut, President of the Committee for the Environment & Infrastructure, States of Guernsey • Mr Richard Lole, Chief Executive for the Department of Environment, Food & Agriculture, Isle of Man • Dr Richard Axton, Chairman of Council, La Société Sercquaise, on behalf of Sark Agriculture and Environment Committee of the Chief Pleas of Sark • Deputy Steven Luce, Minister for the Environment, Jersey • Dr Mike Pienkowski, Chairman, UK Overseas Territories Conservation Forum Seated (from left): • Hon. Claude Hogan, Minister of Agriculture & Environment, Montserrat • Mrs Michele Christian, Divisional Manager, Environmental, Conservation & Natural Resources, Government of Pitcairn • Hon. Dr John Cortés, Minister for Education, Heritage, Environment, Energy & Climate Change, Gibraltar Participants missing from photo: • Mr James Dent, Chair of Policy & Finance Committee, States of Alderney • Mr Roland Gauvain, Executive Director, Alderney Wildlife Trust • Mr Paul Veron, Economic Development Officer, States of Alderney • Ms Sue Price, Executive Assistant to the Chief Executive, States of Alderney • Mr Matt Birmingham, Chair of Building & Development Control Committee, States of Alderney • Mr Steve Roberts, lead member responsibility for environmental/ agricultural issues, States of Alderney • MLA Michael Poole, Portfolio Holder for the Environment – Falkland Islands; with: • Mr Nick Rendell, Falkland Islands Government Environment Officer (participating via Skype) • Councillor Mrs Pamela Ward Pearce, Chairman of Environment & Natural Resources Committee, St Helena(participating via Skype) • Derek Henry, Environment & National Resources Department, St Helena (participating via Skype) • (Prevented from participating remotely by technical difficulties: Mrs Michelle Fulford Gardiner, Deputy Permanent Secretary, Ministry for Tourism, Environment, Heritage and Culture, Turks & Caicos Islands.