Premier Dr. Hon. Natalio D. Wheatley has urged the Executive Secretary of the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) Mr. Simon Stiell on support to the British Virgin Islands (BVI) to help in the response to the negative impacts of climate change as the islands face stronger and more frequent storms, heavier rains, flash flooding and sea level rise.

Premier Wheatley highlighted that the BVI and other Associate Members of the UN regional commissions are locked out of climate finance, despite their vulnerabilities as Small Island Developing States. He argued that high climate vulnerability should allow the BVI to access concessional financing and receive grants to help the islands adapt to climate change. He also reminded the gathering that the BVI was hit by two category five hurricanes in 2017 from which it is still recovering.

UNFCCC Executive Secretary Stiell acknowledged the situation of the BVI and other UN Associate Members and encouraged continued advocacy.

Premier Wheatley also supported the CARICOM position presented by Prime Minister of the Commonwealth of the Bahamas Hon. Philip Davis who made the case for the need to make the processes of accessing climate finance by SIDS more streamlined. The Premier also backed the advocacy of CARICOM Secretary General H.E. Dr. Carla Barnett and Executive Director of the Caribbean Community Climate Change Center (CCCCC) Dr. Colin Young.

Also present at the meeting was St. Vincent and the Grenadines Minister for Sustainable Development Hon. Carlos James, Saint Lucia Minister for Education, Sustainable Development, Innovation, Science, Technology and Vocational Training Hon. Shawn Edward, BVI Special Envoy Mr. Benito Wheatley, and representatives from Barbados, Bahamas and the CARICOM Secretariat.

Speaking on the importance of the meeting Premier Wheatley said, “I am grateful to UNFCCC Executive Secretary Simon Stiell for taking the time to listen to the challenges of the BVI and other UN Associate Members in responding to the negative impacts of climate change, as well as other Caribbean SIDS within CARICOM. This is an existential issue for us and we need access to climate finance to adapt to the changing weather patterns that are putting our societies at risk. CARICOM has been a strong partner and the BVI will continue to participate in the collective advocacy efforts to get access to climate finance, especially since SIDS are not the cause of the global warming taking place.”  

The meeting took place last week at the Fourth International Conference on Small Island Developing States (SIDS4) in Antigua and Barbuda.