OECS Ministers responsible for environmental portfolios are currently meeting in Dominica.
The two-day meeting commenced on Wednesday 4 May 2016 with an opening ceremony at the Fort Young Hotel in Roseau. Representing Montserrat are Hon. Minister of Environment Claude Hogan and Jerome Meade, the current head of Planning and Development.
The meeting’s purpose is to operationalize Article 24.1 of the Revised Treaty of Basseterre. The article states, “Each protocol member state shall implement the St. George Declaration of Principles for Environmental Sustainability in the OECS to minimize environmental vulnerability, improve environmental management and protect the region’s natural resource base for optimal social and economic benefits for member states”.
The meeting will focus on topics such as ocean governance, water resource management, energy and climate change in addition to other relevant issues related to environmental sustainability, natural disasters and Small Island Developing States (SIDS).
Small Island Developing States (SIDS) including Caribbean islands are said to bear the brunt of impact of climate variability, sea level rise and climate change. They also face extremely high economic, social and environmental consequences as well as heavy reconstruction costs.
The officials are expected to take stock of the work done since COP 2015 in Paris and to keep pushing towards reaching the 2020 Development Goals.
Hon. Minister for Health and Environment in Dominica, Dr. Kenneth Darroux, during the opening ceremony said with the passage of Tropical Storm Erika in August 2015 the island with its “traditional determination and resilience” as well as “overwhelming support and assistance” from the regional and international community has been able to rise up in the face of this challenge to host this third meeting of Environment Ministers.
“I think this speaks volumes…I would like to thank the Organization of Eastern Caribbean States (OECS) Commission for convening this council of ministers for environmental sustainability here in Dominica. Thank you for believing in us.”
Small Island Developing States rely on their natural resources as their main source of GDP and on their natural resources to ensure food security, for livelihoods and indirectly health, Dr Darroux said.