Minister for Natural Resources and Labour Honourable Melvin M. Turnbull is in Lisbon Portugal attending the United Nations (UN) Ocean Conference from June 27 to July 1. Acting Permanent Secretary in the Ministry of Natural Resources and Labour Mr. Joseph Smith-Abbott is also in attendance.
The goal of the UN Ocean Conference is to mobilise action and propel much needed science-based innovative solutions aimed at bridging the gap between the current state of the ocean and the 2030 sustainable development goals that requires global ocean action, in particular, goal 14 of Life Below Water. These solutions for a sustainably managed ocean will involve green technology and innovative uses of marine resources; they also include addressing the threats to health, ecology, economy, governance of the ocean, acidification, marine litter and pollution, illegal unreported and unregulated fishing, and the loss of habitats and biodiversity.
The Minister for Natural Resources and Labour shared his excitement for the opportunity to represent the Territory at the UN Ocean Conference. He said, “I am excited for the opportunity to represent the Territory at the 2022 United Nations Ocean Conference. The oceans play an integral part in the economy and environment of the Virgin Islands, given that we have 200 nautical miles under our stewardship. With the right strategies in place, we have a remarkable opportunity to creatively diversify our economy. We must continue to find ways to protect the environment; provide educational opportunities and preserve our marine resources to ensure sustainability.”
He added, “Further to this, in light of climate change our efforts must be redoubled, and this conference will increase our capacity to discover the relevant solutions. We hope through this effort to advance our “Blue Economy” strategy, by building partnerships and gathering information to improve livelihoods through the sustainable use of the ocean.”
Acting Permanent Secretary, Mr. Joseph Smith-Abbott also commented on the importance of the UN Ocean Conference. He said, “Participation at the meeting recognises the BVI’s long trajectory in the conservation and sustainable use of marine resources. It will highlight the work that Government and various Non-governmental Organisations (NGO), private and civil society partners are undertaking to mitigate environmental degradation, restoration of coastal and marine habitats and offer opportunities for the development of the Blue Economy, charter industry, Shipping Registry, protected area management and other significant economic activities.”
The weeklong ocean conference will feature a variety of interactive plenary dialogues ranging from addressing marine pollution to leveraging interlinkages between Sustainable Development Goal 14 and other goals towards the implementation of the 2030 agenda. These interactive dialogues will contribute to bilateral exchanges with colleagues regionally and internationally to advance ocean conservation and the development of opportunities to enhance the sustainable use of the coastal and marine resources of the Territory.