Thursday, October 22 –The Ministry of Natural Resources and Labour in collaboration with the Caribbean Community Climate Change Centre, (CCCCC) headquartered in Belize and the United Kingdom Department for International Development, (DFID) is hosting the second two-day Virgin Islands Climate Change Stakeholder consultation.

The consultation which began today is a continuation of the process to develop a Climate Change Adaptation and Public Education and Outreach (PEO) Strategy for climate change in the Territory.
Minister for Natural Resources and Labour Hon. Omar W. Hodge said climate change requires a very strong bottom-up approach and the Territory must get involved in the global climate debate, starting at the local level.  

“Government is committed to supporting local discussions and taking strong actions on climate change.  We must learn more about climate change as it will potentially impact every basic aspect of life in the Virgin Islands ranging from natural resources and critical infrastructure to water, energy resources and food security,” Hon. Hodge said.

Minister Hodge further noted that it is important for stakeholders to be aware of and discuss the potential impacts of climate change.  He further stated that all stakeholders must be a part of devising the most cost effective and acceptable responses to the issues.

During the consultation, a major agenda item will be a critical review of ‘The Draft Virgin Islands Climate Change Issues Paper’, a document which emanated from the first climate change stakeholder consultation held in January of this year.  The issues paper describes the most likely climatic changes to impact the Territory and is available from the Conservation and Fisheries Department. Based on the issues paper, the stakeholders will help to identify appropriate policy interventions specific to local conditions.

Present at the consultation are representatives from the CCCCC and the Department for International Development, which are the coordinating and funding agencies respectively for the Enhancing Capacity for Adaptation to Climate Change in the Caribbean UK Overseas Territories Project (ECACC) of which the consultation is a part.  

In June 2008, His Excellency Governor David Peary, acting on the advice of the Premier Honourable Ralph T. O’Neal, OBE assigned the climate change portfolio to the Minister for Natural Resources and Labour.  The Ministry of Natural Resources is the government arm responsible for the sustainable management of the Territory’s natural resources and endeavours to promote greater awareness on potential climate change impacts and adaption strategies.