#Providenciales, November 1, 2019 – Turks and Caicos – PThe Premier Hon. Sharlene Cartwright-Robinson signed a Declaration on Ocean during the Overseas Countries and Territories (OCT) Association’s Conference on Oceans held in Brussels, Belgium on the 16 – 17 October 2019. Turks and Caicos Islands made representation at the Conference with the ceremonial signing of the OCT Declaration on Ocean as part of the two-day event.
The Overseas Countries and Territories associated with the European Union are largely oceanic territories. Their existence and their survival are inseparably linked to Oceans for food, livelihoods, water, oxygen, climate, socio-economic growth, culture and tourism. The Turks and Caicos Islands depends very heavily on Oceans for similar reasons; sourcing food, jobs for locals and largely as an attraction to millions of visitors to the Islands per year. To ensure that TCI’s Oceans are protected, maintained and ensure the collection of data to assist with sustainability research and conservation efforts, the Declaration was signed.
The OCT Declaration on Ocean which aims to promote sustainable natural resources, conservation of biodiversity and management of oceans was developed with four (4) main objectives: –
1) To conserve and sustainably use the environmental value of Oceans
2) Foster the economic value of Oceans and support a sustainable Blue Economy
3) Stimulate the social value of Oceans
4) Develop regional, European, global and inter-OCTs collaboration, with the support of Member-States having a link with OCTs to:
a) take a harmonised regional and territorial approach to improve the maritime monitoring (illegal fishing, pollutants, etc) using common protocols and shared technology while recognising the differences between the OCT’s marine areas;
b) Cooperate between OCTs in marine research and innovation;
c) Promte human and institutional capacity to advance ocean governance and management by OCTs;
d) Capitalise effors by a coordinated involvement in international fora and act as embassador for Oceans;
e) Optimise the use of available EU funding, with a particular view on new opportunities that will be available in the EU programme post 2020 which are of interest of Oceans and OCTs;
f) Keep abreast with European policy developments when appropriate, with a view of getting involved in future initiatives for Oceans.
With growing human populations and activities, Oceans are suffering from pollution, overexploitation, coastal degradation and the effects of climate change. Warmer seas temperatues, increased intensity of storms, rising sea levels, loss of biodiversity, coral bleaching, ocean acidification and significant increased pollution by plastics are all major issues threathening the sustinability of our Oceans and can have an impact on human health.
The Turks and Caicos Islands increasingly moving toward a greener more environmentally conscious lifestyle, through its enacted Ban on single use plastics and the impending ban on the importation of polystyrenes along with noteworthy investment in research and data collection by TCIG to properly manage and govern the use of our marine environment and the protection of our coast lines has been a heavy focus for TCI Government.
The signing of this Declaration ensures that TCI remains compliant with international conservation standards and best pratices and that the country has access to the most recent data and technologies in the region that can inform and boost the sustainable use of our natural resources.
More than 15 OCTs signed the OCT Declaration on Ocean, the Turks and Caicos Islands included. The Overseas Countries and Territories Association (OCTA) with the support of the European Commission, organised the Conference on Oceans chaired by Prime Minister of Curaçao, M. Rhuggenaath. Panellists included four Members of the European Parliament, representatives of several Directorates General of the European Commission, representatives of the Member States to which OCTs are associated and political delegations from 21 OCTs.
The OCTAssociation is a non-profit organization operating out of Belgium and has 22 members – including inhabited OCTs and TAAF (French Southern and Atlantic Lands). Its highest decision-making authority is the Ministerial Conference which consists of the representatives (Political Heads of Government or delegates) of each member Government.