#TurksandCaicos, November 5, 2021 – The Ministry of Tourism, Environment, Fisheries, Maritime Affairs, Culture & Heritage, Agriculture, Religious Affairs and Gaming, represented by the Hon. Minister Josephine Connolly and Director Lormeka Williams, from the Department of Environment & Coastal Resources (DECR), are currently attending the 2021 United Nations Climate Change Conference (also known as COP26) in Glasgow, Scotland, UK.
The summit has brought parties together, including the UK Overseas Territories (UKOTs) Association Delegation, to accelerate action towards the goals of the Paris Agreement and the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change. While in Glasgow, the Hon. Minister has had access to the ‘Blue Zone’, the UN-managed space that hosts the negotiations and brings together delegations from 197 countries. The Zone was the venue for the World Leaders’ Summit on November 1st & 2nd. On November 6th the Overseas Territory delegation (which includes the Turks & Caicos Islands) will host an event for Nature and Land Use Day. The event will explore how the UKOTs are taking action to counter and mitigate the effects of global warming and how they are safeguarding precious marine environments.
Honourable Minister Connolly engaged at the highest level, with her Caribbean counterparts, on topics which include reopening strategies and tourism-related impacts and the way forward as it pertains to COVID-19, as well as issues of sustainable financing for climate change resilience for island-states.
“For the future, we must shift to sustainable development and mainstreamed resilience practices, and arm ourselves with the data, expertise, and modelling required to understand how Climate Change will impact our society and environment. We need improved comprehension of increased impacts of flooding, intense heat, drought, and storms, and regional realities like Climate Change-induced migration. To mainstream Climate Change resilience, we need expertise, and capital and recurrent funding, while at the same time not sacrificing other vital conservation projects and programmes. “, said Hon. Minister Connolly.
At COP26 countries are being asked to come forward with ambitious 2030 emissions reductions targets (NDCs) that align with reaching net zero by the middle of the century. This is particularly pertinent to the Caribbean region as island-states, including the Turks & Caicos Islands, find themselves on the frontline of the impacts of climate change. Coral reefs, vital to our economy, are less resilient to disease and our reefs are more susceptible to bleaching impacting the overall biodiversity of our marine ecosystems. We are most vulnerable to the increase in sea levels and are starting to see the impacts on our communities as land stability is threatened on a daily basis. Each year we face more intense storms, with hurricane season arriving earlier and ending much later.
Header: L-R; Hon. Josephine Connolly – Min of Tourism Turks and Caicos Islands, Hon. Vincent Wheatley – Min of Minister for Natural Resources, British Virgin Islands, Hon. Walter Roban – Deputy Premier Bermuda, Baroness Patricia Scotland Secretary General of the Commonwealth of Nations, Hon. Parliamentary Secretary Quincia Gumbs-Marie, Natural Resources Anguilla.
1st insert: L-R; HE Najib Balala – Min of Tourism & Wildlife Kenya, Hon. Edmund Bartlett – Min of Tourism Jamaica, Hon. Josephine Connolly – Min of Tourism Turks and Caicos Islands, Hon. Vincent Wheatley – Min of Minister for Natural Resources, British Virgin Islands.
2nd insert: Minister of Tourism Hon. Josephine Connolly attends 2021 United Nations Climate Change Conference #COP26 #TogetherForOurPlanet . Seen with Hon. Vincent Wheatley Minister of Natural Resources of BVI and parliamentary secretary Ms. Quincia Gumbs-Marie of Anguilla
The conference is the 26th Conference of the Parties (COP) to the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change and the third meeting of the parties to the Paris Agreement. It is being held in Glasgow, Scotland, United Kingdom, between 31 October and 12 November 2021, under the presidency of Rt. Hon. Alok Sharma.
RTCIPF Marine Branch and USCG Working Together in Keeping Our Borders Secure
#TurksandCaicos, May 20, 2022 – During the afternoon of Wednesday 19th May 2022, a call was made to the RTCIPF Marine Operations Centre via VHF radio that a suspicious vessel was sighted around 35 miles south east of Providenciales. The operator immediately updated colleagues within the Royal Turks and Caicos Marine Branch who made their way to the location and with the support of a US Coast Guard (USCG) plane, safely intercepted an overloaded vessel carrying irregular migrants.
Following delicate coordination and the stabilization of the boat which was unsafe, severely overcrowded and none of the occupants was wearing life vests, the RTCIPF marine unit was joined by a second RTCIPF Marine crew and a third vessel crewed with TCI Regiment and Tactical Unit officers to support the delicate operation.
The vessel was carefully offloaded at sea to ensure the safety of the occupants after which, the boat was towed to South Dock where it arrived around 10:30pm with a total of 110 persons (84 males and 24 females and 2 juveniles) who were then taken into custody by the Immigration Department.
Superintendent Martyn Ball said, “Once again working with partners we have safely intercepted another vessel that was overcrowded, unsafe, risking the lives of those on board. This demonstrates the professionalism and dedication of the RTCIPF Marine Unit, working together with colleagues in the Marine Operations Centre, USCG, TCI Regiment, TCI Immigration and the RTCIPF Tactical Unit to save lives and keep our borders here in the Turks and Caicos safe. In the last couple of months around 768 individuals on 8 dangerous vessels have been intercepted which is testament to the professionalism of our teams here in the TCI and I am very grateful to the passing vessel who raised the alarm. I would appeal to anyone if you have any information relating to such activity that you call Crimes Stoppers free and anonymously on 1-800-8477 (TIPS) not only will you be saving lives but also supporting our national security here in the Turks and Caicos Islands.”
List of Demands for UK, presented by Overseas Territories at May 4-6 meetings
By Dana Malcolm
#UnitedKingdom, May 19, 2022 – Speakers of the House from Overseas Territories in the Caribbean met with the UK House of Commons in the first ever Speaker-led conference to discuss issues relating to governance, climate and visibility in the House of Commons and provide the UK with an idea of what they say is necessary for OTs to survive.
The meeting held on May 4th to 6th was attended by Speakers from Anguilla, Bermuda, the Cayman Islands, Montserrat, Saint Helena, Turks and Caicos Islands, the UK House of Commons and a representative from Gibraltar.
A communique released after the event made it clear that democracy was of utmost import to the small island states.
“We reaffirmed the central role played by legislatures in democratic life, our commitment to the principles of democracy in our legislatures, the sacredness of democracy and the need for partnership to sustain it. As our legislatures bring together all components of society, they are the cornerstones of democratic governance; they represent the wills and expressions of the people through scrutiny and democratic process,” it said.
In order to support the legislature the OTs requested that the UK government provide funding for them to have a ‘dedicated building in which to carry out its activities and duties’ as well as investment in the training of officials and sharing of best practices. The Speakers also requested that funding be provided for any constitutional reviews should the issue arise.
To ensure that the overseas territories have a voice in legislation in the UK that affects them the UK Speaker promised to explore opportunities for OTs to scrutinise these laws . Additionally the UK Speaker said the house of commons was willing to help facilitate parliamentary representation of the Overseas Territories at the UK Parliament if the territories decided they wanted to.
The Speakers requested that outside of this the UK provide detailed Impact Assessments for any bill that would affect them
Aptly described as a climate emergency in the communique the speakers noted that while the OTs were bastions of nature the volatility with which climate change was occurring would directly impact overseas territories first and worst.
“The Overseas Territories are custodians of internationally important habitats, which span the globe from the Antarctic to the Caribbean, the South Atlantic to the Pacific and the Indian Oceans with different geographical challenges…We recognise that the Overseas Territories have multiple levels of vulnerability including economic constraints and challenges of infrastructure which mean the impacts of the climate emergency can result in huge environmental disasters and economic impacts” it said.
Thus the countries called for long term, strategic action by the UK including dedicated and transparent funding to replace lost EU funding caused by Brexit. They also thanked the UK for their commitment to biodiversity.
The territories ended on a firm note emphasising their right to self-determination saying, “We reiterate our shared belief that the principle of equal rights and self-determination of peoples, as enshrined in the UN Charter, applies to the peoples of the Overseas Territories.”
JAMAICA: Bust of Labour Movement Activist Agnes Bernard Unveiled
#Jamaica, May 19, 2022 – A bust of Agnes “Aggie” Bernard, a stalwart in Jamaica’s labour movement, has been erected at the Kingston Craft Market located downtown.
The sculpture, which rests atop an existing monument in her honour, was commissioned in partnership between the Ministry of Labour and Social Security and the Ministry of Culture, Gender, Entertainment and Sport.
Speaking at the unveiling, Culture Minister, Hon. Olivia Grange, said that Ms. Bernard was one of the foremost pioneering women activists in Jamaica’s labour movement during the 1938 labour riots that were pivotal in Jamaica’s political development.
“We honour one of the truly outstanding women of Jamaica, a heroine in her own right. Aggie was truly one of the great and faithful servants of the labour movement in Jamaica,” she said.
“At the age of 28 in 1938, she was there when Alexander Bustamante, who had decided to lead the workers, and Garveyite, St. William Grant, were arrested fighting for the cause of striking workers. Seeing all of this, Aggie was moved to lend a hand to the cause and what a mighty hand that was,” Ms. Grange recounted.
The Minster said that the decision not only changed Aggie’s life, but it had a signal effect on the labour movement in Jamaica.
“She used up all the money she had at the time, the grand sum of five shillings and sixpence to buy bread, coffee and sugar for the hungry strikers. Admiring and supporting her move, sympathisers stepped in and gave money for food,” Ms. Grange said.
In 1976, Aggie was honoured with the Order of Distinction in recognition of her outstanding service to the trade union movement and her contribution to nationhood. The Organization of American States (OAS) also awarded her a special certificate of merit. She died on October 7, 1980 and was given an official funeral and buried at National Heroes Park.
Ms. Grange said that the bust of Aggie Bernard is a tribute to the workers of Jamaica and is one of the Legacy Projects for the country’s diamond jubilee.
For his part, Labour Minister, Hon. Karl Samuda, in a speech read by Chief Technical Director in the Ministry, Dione Jennings, said Workers’ Week recognises workers across Jamaica for their unwavering contribution to the economic growth and development of the society.
He said that this year’s theme recognises that “if Jamaica is to recover lost ground and continue on the road to economic prosperity, it will be the Jamaican worker who will have to redouble our efforts, in every sector, to improve our productivity and increase our earning power”.
The Minister noted that Jamaica has come a long way since the devastating labour riots in 1938, when the workers took action all over the island to press for improved working conditions.
Those actions, he said, led to the establishment of the Minimum Wage Act and a Labour Department, which was the precursor to the current Ministry of Labour, both in 1938.
“No longer do we, as a people, have to resort to rioting, strikes and other counter-productive measures to have our voices heard. We now settle our grievances by engaging an established conciliatory process,” Mr. Samuda said.
“In spite of the recent cases of unrest, the peace and industrial harmony which we generally enjoy has come at great cost. And so, we gather here, at this, the Monument to the Workers of 1938, which stands as a reminder of the bravery and tenacity of the workers and leaders, who risked their lives to [improve] the condition of labour in Jamaica. The nation salutes you, our unsung heroes,” he said.
Meanwhile, Minister of Local Government and Rural Development, Hon. Desmond McKenzie, said the Government respects and appreciates the rights of “every single Jamaican to advocate for better and improved working conditions”.
“The Government is not lost as to the concerns of the workers. The Government is committed in every way to ensure that the workers are rewarded in a meaningful way,” Mr. McKenzie said.
Release: Latonya Linton
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