Friday, 05 November - 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.
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.