Government of Montserrat

GOVERNMENT DEPARTMENTS ACCEPTING BANK OF MONTSERRAT DEBIT CARD PAYMENTS

Following the recent launch of Bank of Montserrat debit cards for use with point-of-sale (POS) terminals, the Government of Montserrat through the Treasury Department, is informing the public that Bank of Montserrat issued debit cards are being accepted at revenue collection points with POS Terminals.

 

Customers at Government revenue collection points which use POS Terminals, such as the Treasury Department, Ministry of Communications, Works and Labour, Customs Airport and Seaport and the Royal Montserrat Police Service (RMPS), now have a choice of paying using their Visa or Mastercard Credit Card, Cash or Cheque and Bank of Montserrat debit card only.

 

The acceptance of Bank of Montserrat Debit Cards follows the recent introduction of POS Terminals in Government Departments which serve to facilitate e-commerce payments, thereby reducing the amount of cash being collected or handled at various revenue collection points.

 

While this new service is expected to speed up the time it takes to complete transactions, the public is asked to note that the following procedures will have to be followed:

     

  1. The cardholder must provide a valid picture identification (ID), such as passport, driver’s license or social security card.
  2. Sign the POS receipt.
  3. Collect POS receipt from cashier

 

The POS Terminals were introduced in government departments on Monday, April 30th in keeping with the Government of Montserrat’s drive to improve its services to customers, reduce regulatory compliance costs and remove barriers to trade.

 

The Treasury Department said it continues to partner with the Bank of Montserrat Ltd as it aims to increase the payment options available to customers, thereby improving the overall customer service to the general public.
 

MATLHE & WAITT INSTITUTE PRESENT FISHING EQUIPMENT TO SEVEN FISHERMEN

The Ministry of Agriculture, Trade, Lands, Housing and the Environment (MATLHE) and the WAITT Institute today (Wednesday, August 15) presented fishing equipment to seven fishermen, as part of their efforts to contribute to sustainable fishing practices on island.

 

Group Photo of Fishermen, Permanent Secretary (Ag), Eulyn Greaves, WAITT Institute Representative Robin Ramdeen and Director of Agriculture, Melissa O’Garro.


 

The presentation was conducted at the MATLHE Headquarters in Brades. The fishermen received one roll of fish pot wire, three coils of half inch rope and 15 buoys.
 

Speaking at the presentation, the Ministry’s Permanent Secretary (Ag), Eulyn Silcott-Greaves noted that the distribution represented another milestone for the Ministry. She said, the Minister of MATLHE, the Honourable David Osborne and the Ministry, remains fully committed to promoting sustainable livelihoods and ensuring food security on Montserrat. “One of the ways we are doing that is by providing incentives to our farmers and fishers so as to promote local food production, and so it is our delight to be a part of this initiative in partnership with the WAITT Institute, explained Mrs. Greaves.

 
The funding for the equipment was provided by the WAITT Institute.
 

WAITT Institute/Blue Halo representative, Robin Ramdeen in her remarks, recommended that the fishermen incorporate a biodegradable item in their fish traps, to reduce the likelihood of ghost fishing. She said, “One of the things we want to recommend to fishers receiving these trap materials, is to include biodegradable hemp twine on at least one of the panels, so when traps get lost they do not continue to fish.”

 
The hemp twine was not available for the donation this morning, however Ms. Ramdeen gave her commitment to providing the hemp twine to the Ministry for distribution to the fishermen at a later date.
 

Today’s donation is a part of the ongoing partnership between the Government of Montserrat and the WAITT Institute/Blue Halo Initiative to promote coastal and maritime preservation and fisheries management.
 

MONTSERRAT INNOVATION DAYS TO OPEN THIS WEEK

The linkages between innovation and sustainable development will be the focus of discussions on Montserrat for the ‘2018 Innovation Days’, being organised by the Government of Montserrat with support from the local Innovation Advisory Board.
 

The ‘Innovation Days’ are scheduled for Thursday August 16 and Friday August 17 at the Montserrat National Trust starting at 9:00a.m. on both days. The event will be launched on Thursday morning by Premier, the Honourable Donaldson Romeo who will deliver opening remarks. Other speakers scheduled to deliver remarks at the opening ceremony include Government of Montserrat’s UK Representative and Chair of the Overseas Countries and Territories Association (OCTA) Innovation, Mrs. Janice Panton, and Brussels based OCTA Innovation Team Leader, Milan Jezic von Gesseneck.

 
The Brussels based OCTA Innovation Team Leader and the local Innovation Advisory Board explained that the ‘Innovation Days’ are intended to assist in enhancing sustainable development through innovation solutions for economic diversification. The event targets both local public and private stakeholders, encouraging exchanges of relevant knowledge and best available practice in different aspects of sustainable development of the island.

 
During the sessions, Milan Jezic von Gesseneck, will lead a group of EU experts who will provide some lectures and transfer of knowledge on the best EU practices to Montserrat. Milan in particular will share his knowledge and experience in innovation and sustainable development; Innovation, entrepreneurship and green business expert from Trinidad and Tobago, Alan Cooper, will share his knowledge and regional experience in policy support for innovation, entrepreneurship and green business development; while development and tourism expert James McGregor, will bring the best worldwide practice and experience in visitor economy. Some members of the local Innovation Advisory Board will also deliver presentations based on their areas of specialisation.

 

In addition to the Innovation Days on August 16 and 17, a round-table discussion on the ‘Creative Industry’ is also being planned for Monday, August 20 starting at 9:00a.m. at the Cabinet Secretariat’s Conference Room.

 
The OCTA Innovation programme assists Overseas Countries and Territories (OCTs) in propelling innovation and creativity through the organisation of local ‘Innovation Days’. Innovation Days are events held in the OCTs, ranging from one day up to several days, with support from the Brussels based OCTA Innovation Team Leader, and features lectures and trainings from experts.
 

MONTSERRAT SIGNS MOU WITH ANTIGUA TO PROMOTE ECO-TOURS TO MONTSERRAT

The Governments of Montserrat and Antigua and Barbuda today signed a memorandum of understanding (MOU) to include passenger eco-excursions to Montserrat, as part of the list of activities offered to cruise line clients who visit Antigua.

 

Signing of MOU To Promote Eco Tours To Montserrat

 
The MOU was signed in Antigua and Barbuda by the Permanent Secretary in the Office of the Premier (Montserrat), Daphne Cassell and the Permanent Secretary in the Ministry of Tourism and Investment (Antigua and Barbuda) Walter Christopher, on behalf of their respective Governments.

 
The MOU will take effect from Wednesday, August 1st 2018 for a period of two years. Under the agreement, cruise lines that regularly visit Antigua will promote the 6 to 7 hours ‘Eco-excursion tour to the Caribbean Modern Day Pompeii’ on Montserrat along with a list of other excursions in Antigua.

 
Permanent Secretary in the Office of the Premier, Daphne Cassell said, “The signing of the MOU will be instrumental in advancing the Premier’s vision and the efforts of the Tourism Division for an established tourism partnership with Antigua and Barbuda and is expected to result in an increase in the number of day tour passengers to the island.”

 
The Permanent Secretary in the Ministry of Tourism and Investment in Antigua and Barbuda, Walter Christopher noted that there has been a strong relationship between Montserrat and Antigua and Barbuda over the years. He said, “We will continue to facilitate this cooperative relationship between Montserrat and Antigua through this tourism partnership for eco-tours to Montserrat. Historically we have had a good relationship with Montserrat and we will continue to do what it takes to nurture it.”

 
The excursions to Montserrat will be facilitated by the Montserrat Ferry Service which will be made available for this purpose, as required.

 
The signing of the MOU follows recent discussions between Premier, the honourable Donaldson Romeo and Antigua and Barbuda’s Minister for Tourism, the Honorable Charles Henry Fernandez. On Thursday, July 26, Premier Romeo met with Mr. Fernandez to discuss actions and plans in train for partnerships in tourism between Antigua and Barbuda and Montserrat.
 

Ministers of Latin America and the Caribbean adopt Roadmap for moving towards quality, inclusive, equitable education

Montserrat’s Minister of Education, the Honourable Delmaude Ryan was among education ministers and high-ranking officials from Latin America and the Caribbean who approved the Cochabamba Agreements and the Regional Roadmap for the Implementation of SDG4-E2030 in Latin America and the Caribbean on 26 July 2018. The latter establishes a regional mechanism for moving towards Sustainable Development Goal 4 –Education 2030 together.

 

The Roadmap is a frame of reference for the design and execution of regional actions in education and contains recommendations for the national implementation of public policy on this issue. It also supports coordinated and coherent progress on priority issues for the countries of the region such as the quality of education, equity and inclusion, teachers and education workers and lifelong learning.

 

The document was prepared collectively during two technical monitoring meetings following the I Regional Meeting of Ministers of Education of Latin America and the Caribbean (Buenos Aires).

 

Representatives of the countries of Latin America and the Caribbean on the SDG-E2030 Global Steering Committee (Argentina, Brazil and Bolivia), one Caribbean nation selected by GRULAC, the Group of Latin American and Caribbean Countries in the United Nations (Granada) and UNESCO and UNICEF, sub-regional and regional organizations (CARICOM, CECC-SICA, the OAS and OEI) and representatives of civil society (CLADE and Education International) also participated in these meetings.

 
A Commitment to Educational Integration

 
The Cochabamba Agreements were reached by the representatives of the countries that attended the regional meeting in Bolivia. They are based on the Buenos Aires Declaration (2017), the first milestone in the regionalization of SDG4-E2030 that allowed the countries to monitor the global decisions adopted in the Incheon Declaration emanating from the World Education Forum in May 2015 from this continent.

 
The Buenos Aires Declaration provided a shared vision of the 2030 Education Agenda from Latin America and the Caribbean and was meant to generate strategies and programs that seek to achieve these targets at the national and regional levels for 2017-2030.

 
The countries agreed in Bolivia to create a mechanism for implementing the Roadmap. The executive secretariat will be the Regional Bureau for Education in Latin America and the Caribbean (OREALC/UNESCO Santiago). This mechanism consists of a Regional Steering Committee with two representatives from South America, two from Central America and Mexico, and three from the Caribbean, all of whom will be elected by the member states. UNESCO and UNICEF will serve as the permanent coordinating agencies of the committee and will receive support from regional inter-governmental organizations and two civil society organizations.

 
The Regional Steering Committee shall establish four working groups that will drive specific actions in review, monitoring and reporting; policy and strategies; awareness and communication; and finance and governance. The groups may seek the support of technical experts.

 
In the agreements, the officials agreed to strengthen intersectoral collaboration and to explore opportunities for the participation of young people and adults in regional coordination mechanisms. They also agreed to meet every two or three years and to entrust OREALC/UNESCO Santiago with organizing regional meetings in coordination with the Regional Steering Committee.

 

80 PLUS VISIT GUADELOUPE ON SPECIAL DAY TRIP

The Access Division, under the portfolio of the Office of the Premier, embarked on a special day trip to Pointe a Pitre, Guadeloupe on Saturday July 28th, with more than 80 passengers.

 
Following months of promotions on Radio Montserrat (ZJB), ZDK Radio in Antigua and social media posts, 130 persons registered for the day trip. 87 of those registered took to the seas, via MV Jaden Sun, alongside Marketing Officer in the Tourism Division, Cherise Aymer and a Nurse Nadine Sweeney from the Glendon Hospital.

 

Plaque Exchange In Guadeloupe

 
While in Guadeloupe, there was a plaque exchange between a representative of the Mayor of Pointe a Pitre, Cherise Aymer and Captain Elvis Gooding of MV Jaden Sun. As part of the activities, some persons had pre-arranged tours to the Botanical Gardens, Rum Factory and Waterfall, Rainforest, the Zoo and Chocolate factory. Meanwhile, others chose to explore Pointe a Pitre city on their own, where they took in the sites, cultural performances and retail therapy.

 
Based on feedback survey forms completed by the passengers on board the ferry 63% of the responders expressed that they had a good experience on the Jaden Sun and the service provided by the crew. All passengers that complete the survey commented that they would participate in another day excursion organised by the Access Division. Although the majority of persons are requesting a follow-up overnight trip in the near future to Basse-Terre, Guadeloupe, there is also a huge demand for visits to St. Maarten or Martinique.

 
The journey took approximately four (4) hours each way.

 
The Access Division expresses heartfelt gratitude to the authorities in Pointe a Pitre, Montserrat Border controls, the Ministry of Health, Captain and crew of MV Jaden Sun and all of our valued customers who made this day trip possible.
 

THREE MONTSERRATIANS RECEIVE CHEVENING SCHOLARSHIP

GOVERNOR’S OFFICE PRESS RELEASE

 

The Governor’s Office is pleased to announce that Ms Jamiel Melissa Greenaway, Ms Tanisha Christopher and Ms Deidre Allen have been awarded the prestigious Chevening Scholarship for the 2018/19 academic year.

 

Chevening Scholars & H.E. Governor Andrew Pearce

 
Miss Greenaway of the Attorney General’s Chambers will be studying for a LLM in Banking and Finance Law at Queen Mary University of London.
Ms Christopher of ZJB Radio will be studying for a MA in Global Communication and Development at Loughborough University in London.
Ms Allen who is based at Environmental Health will be completing a MSc in International Development – Envirionment Climate Change and Development at the University of Manchester.

 
His Excellency the Governor, Andrew Pearce, who met all three scholars at the Governor’s Office earlier today said:

 
“I’d like to offer warm congratulations to Jamile, Tanisha and Deidre on being awarded the Chevening Scholarship this year. This island has been sending scholars to the UK to study since the 80s and this is the first time we have received three in one year. Montserrat has a lot to offer, including its bright and talented young people and the three of you are evidence of that that legacy. You all do your family, friends and the rest of the country proud. Congrats once again.”

 
The Chevening Scholarship scheme is the UK Government’s global scholarship programme, funded by the Foreign & Commonwealth Office (FCO) and partner organisations. They are geared to students with at least first degrees enabling them to study for Masters programmes or equivalent and who show the potential to become future leaders and decision makers in their home countries.

 
Ms Greenaway, Ms Christopher and Ms Allen will leave Montserrat in September to begin their course of study.
 

PREMIER’S STATEMENT ON BREAKTHROUGH PROJECTS & REPORT ON UN & UK TRIPS

Honourable Donaldson Romeo – Premier


 

Presented By Hon Premier Donaldson Romeo on July 18, 2018
 

Fellow Citizens, Residents and Friends of Montserrat, wherever you may be, today, 18th July 2018, marks 23 years since the Soufriere Hill volcano erupted and changed the lives of Montserratians forever.
 

Montserrat has been changed, yes, but thank God, not destroyed; has been down, but not out.
 

Solomon tells us that there is a time for everything under the sun, and I firmly believe that today is a time, not to forget the past, but to let it rest for a moment, a time for me to encourage you with some positive news about the present and the future. Therefore, I shall be focusing on a number of priority projects that my government has been working on to help transform our social and economic conditions.
 

First of all, is the Little Bay Breakwater and Port Development Project. I am pleased to report that we have now started the procurement process for certain consultancy and supervision contracts. You have already heard the advertisement on Radio Montserrat for a Project Coordinator. This means that we are well on the way to having our first breakwater and safe harbour, the first ever safe harbour in the history of the island.
 

What does this mean?
It means having the capability to dock cruise vessels, luxury yachts, cargo vessels and the ferry at the same time. It means no more waiting for cement, flour or sugar because boats can’t dock. It means no more being stranded on the ferry 100 yards off Montserrat’s shore because of rough seas.
 

It means jobs for taxi drivers, artists, craftsmen and everyone involved in tourism. It means larger vessels and therefore cheaper freight, which should in turn have a positive impact on prices for everyone.
 

Then there is the Montserrat Subsea Fibre Project, which is now fully supported by DfID. We are at the stage of finalizing the tender documents with the aim of issuing an invitation to tender within the next month, completing the evaluation of bids by the end of September and hopefully issuing a contract by the end of October.
 

And if everything goes according to plan, the system should ‘Go Live’ by August 2019. The days of phone calls being cut because of the internet being too slow, the frustrations of trying, in vain, to watch a video online – all this will be history.
 

A high-speed connection will also allow us to make history as we set up the first Digi Beach to encourage tech startups in the Caribbean. My administration has already started to embrace the future of block chain and cash being digital as we welcomed BITT to our shores.
 

Regarding the Geothermal Project, which has the potential to provide Montserrat with abundant, clean, renewable energy at a reasonable cost, two wells have already been dug. The completion of the third well is under negotiation between DFID and IDC drilling company. The early market engagement for the surface plant was completed and evaluated and the report is being reviewed.
 

We are still in active negotiations with the British Government for the completion of this project, as well as that of the new hospital.

 
On a smaller scale, just under two million dollars was awarded by the end of June 2018, the first quarter of this financial year, for contracts on small capital projects such as:
 

1. the canopy cover works to the ferry terminal expansion & warehouse roof repair project,
2. Margetson Home – design & build contract,
3. supply of base material & aggregate
4. the New Windward Sewage Facility design & build contract,
5. Supply of textbooks for the public schools in Montserrat and
6. the breaking down and removal of the temporary wood & steel buildings on the Government Headquarters compound.

 
Further, other small capital projects are being prepared for procurement. This will include major roof works and railing for Block C at the Brades Primary School, and other maintenance works to include resurfacing of basketball courts, fencing and painting of school plants, etc.
 

And let us not overlook the countless small projects that have been completed or are underway, particularly in education, health and the environment. To name just a few:
 
· construction of a new toilet block, retaining wall and fencing at the Brades Primary School
· major sewage system repairs and greenhouse infrastructure at MSS
· white boards, plumbing and toilet replacements and other critical repairs at the Look Out Primary School
· completion of the headquarters of the Eastern Caribbean Institute of Tourism at the Montserrat Community College
· major roof recovering at the Salem Nursery School.
· various rehabilitation and retrofit medical storage works at the hospital, including installation of ventilation systems, construction of the X-ray plant room and a central sterilizer to be completed during this quarter.
 

I also express appreciation to the FCO and the people and government of the UK for the Heliconia Star. It has already begun to make a difference for our security, safety and resilience.
 

These are all little drops of water that together are contributing to an ocean of positive change for Montserrat.
 

On the private sector side, many are taking advantage of the concessions under the Homes Built for Sale or Rental Programme. Those who build a house for rental or sale costing USD$180,000 or more will not have to pay duty or consumption tax on building materials imported. And we are already seeing an increase in construction spending and jobs.
 

I also recently visited the Montserrat Football Association’s construction site where a 32-bedroom Dormitory is underway; important infrastructure for sports tourism valued at 8 million dollars, and which should be completed by next year. In addition, it is anticipated that the Montserrat Football Association will be host to several international matches later this year along with the Leeward Islands Cricket Tournaments. This to my mind will be a great boost to our enterprising citizens with businesses, just as we saw with the recent conferences for fisheries and for Ministers of the Environment, the Leeward Islands Under 17 and Under 19 Cricket tournaments and as we also will see for the Calabash Festival.
 

Not too far from the Montserrat Football Association’s football dormitory development, is the 10-unit Art Housing project which is well on the way.

 
Plans are also in place for the construction of super villas adjoining the Isles Bay Plantation units. Other similarly promising project proposals are being discussed and negotiated as I speak. I will personally be following them up closely, so as to ensure that this demonstration of investor confidence in the economy is properly supported and facilitated right through to implementation.

 
As far as relations with Britain are concerned, a key reason for Lord Ahmad’s recent visit to Montserrat in May to June was for him to see firsthand the work that was being done to prepare for this year’s hurricane season, as well as to explore ideas for the development of a stronger and more sustainable private sector economy.
 

As many of you would have recently heard in the media, we are soon to receive additional and much needed equipment provided by the Foreign and Commonwealth Office, so that, should a hurricane hit, our Government can respond in the most efficient and coordinated way.
 

While attending JMC (Joint Ministerial Council) meetings in London in June, I met with FCO Minister, Lord Ahmad and DfID Minister, Lord Bates, to continue discussions on the Construction of hurricane-resistant housing. Meanwhile, hurricane Beryl turned out to be only a tropical storm bringing us much-needed rain – and thank God for that.
 

In my meetings with Lord Ahmad and Lord Bates, we also discussed the completion of a critical section of the A1 main road project, and the Provision of Essential Equipment and Plant to properly install telephone posts and repair or construct asphalt-based roads.
Following this meeting, I can now report that I have in my hands a joint letter from FCO and DfID Ministers Lord Ahmad and Lord Bates. In this letter, they committed the UK to providing physical support for disaster resilience. They also mentioned that they have been persuaded of the need for the UK Government to provide additional capital investment in Montserrat. Discussions to develop those proposals for these Capital projects are expected to start within the next few weeks with a view to being finalized before the end of the year.
 

Projects to be prioritized, discussed and agreed on for the next five years, include:
 

· construction of hurricane-resistant housing and a new hospital
· Improved recreational facilities
· completion of the geothermal project to result in the production of affordable electricity
· completion of the A1 road project;
· night flights at John A Osborne Airport
· Public Service Reform
· Private Sector Development (with an emphasis on promoting youth and locally driven entrepreneurial businesses, tourism related infrastructure, etc).
· Government Accommodation
· New Secondary School Campus, etc
 

In June, I attended a Meeting of the United Nations Committee for Decolonization, where I called on the UN to support a Development Partnership Agreement or Memorandum of Understanding between the governments of Montserrat and the UK. This MoU would have a list of priority projects with committed funds and a set timeline for their design and implementation. I also asked the UN Special Committee to appoint a neutral, technical team to monitor closely progress in the negotiations and implementation of said projects.
 

Lastly, I requested that the UN send a visiting team to Montserrat as well as to Antigua and the UK, to meet evacuees so as to grasp the context of where Montserrat is now and where we want to go to get out of economic dependence.
 

These requests, as you can see, are in keeping with what I have argued for over the past 4 years and what the FCO and DfID Ministers are now offering to do with a five-year capital programme in the recent joint letter to me mentioned before.
 

As I said in my statement to the UN last month “It is becoming increasingly obvious to many, that, rather than continuing to keep the island for another 23 years or more on an expensive life-support machine, it would cost the UK tax payer much less in the long run, to invest wisely and intensively in Montserrat now.”
 

Nationals, Non Nationals, Residents and friends of Montserrat there are many ups and downs behind us, and there will be many more ahead. That’s life as we know it in an imperfect world. But it seems to me that we can ad0pt to our situation today, and the hope that we have for tomorrow; in the words of Joseph to his brothers about the crisis that had erupted in his own life: “God has turned it into good”. (Genesis 50.20) Can it be that the volcano which many expected to wipe Montserrat off the map, is turning out to be a blessing in disguise?
 

For us to benefit fully from this blessing however, I believe that we need to adopt Joseph’s positive attitude, trusting God whatever happens; to set politicking aside, unite and pull together and seize the many opportunities opening to us all, wherever we may be, God being our helper.

 

MINISTRY OF EDUCATION ANNOUNCES THE REOPENING OF THE YOUTH AND SPORTS DEVELOPMENT PROJECT –‘EMPOWERING YOUTH ON MONTSERRAT’

Mr. Lyston Skerritt

 

The Ministry of Education, Youth Affairs, and Sports announces the reopening of the Youth and Sports Development Programme under the leadership of Mr. Lyston Skerritt.

 

The programme in Phase II will seek to support the youth of Montserrat through apprenticeship placement, entrepreneur development and capacity/skill development. Interested youth are invited to visit the office downstairs the Department of Youth Affairs and Sports in Brades to submit applications from Monday 16th July 2018 at 8:00am.

 
In Phase II, the programme will continue to aid in establishing the policy framework for youth and sports development in Montserrat. This includes the completion of the youth policy and a youth bill. The menu of programs for youth will be upgraded to include Internship for students enrolled at the Montserrat Community College and the streamlining of the Community Partnership Program.

 
The continuation of Entrepreneurial Development will be founded on establishing independent youth lead businesses. Programs will include the development of key skills in: bookkeeping, taxation, profit and loss statements, effective business plans and resource acquisition.

 
Mr. Skerritt has also been tasked to assist in the development of a Sports Bill in collaboration with the Sports Division and Sports Associations of Montserrat. He will also develop a plan for the integration of the Youth and Sports Development Programme into the Department of Youth and Sports to ensure an efficient and effective delivery of services for the island’s youth.

 
The Youth and Sports Development Project is a 24-month Programme focused on capacity building, young athletes, paraprofessionals and entrepreneurs. The objective is to build capacity towards financial independence. The programme will re-align its operations in accordance with the Commonwealth Youth Mandate and the OECS Youth Objectives.

 

ENVIRONMENT MINISTERS AGREE ON UNIFIED APPROACH TO TACKLE CLIMATE CHANGE ISSUES

The OECS 5th Council of Ministers of Environment and Sustainability (COMES5) Meeting concluded on the evening of Wednesday, July 11 with Ministers of Environment identifying several areas for greater collaboration and unified action, to address a number of climate change issues affecting the region.
 

COMES 5 Ministers at Press Briefing (left to right) Honourable David Osborne (Montserrat), Honourable Simon Stiell (Grenada), Dr. the Honourable Kedrick Pickering (BVI), Honourable Molwyn Joseph (Antigua and Barbuda) and the Honourable Eugene Hamilton (St. Kitts and Nevis)


 

Speaking at a press briefing following the conclusion of the Ministerial meeting on Wednesday, incoming Council Chair, the Honourable David Osborne gave his commitment to continue the dialogue and work with the Ministers of Environment from across the region, to find solutions to challenges, such as the invasion of the sargassum seaweed.
 

Minister Osborne stated that the prevalence of the sargassum seaweed in the region is a critical situation right now and it formed a major part of the discussions. He acknowledged that Montserrat had not been as severely impacted as some of the other islands; but said it’s a matter which needs urgent attention. Another major topic of deliberation during the meeting, as pointed out by Minister Osborne, is the need for prompt and proper aid to be provided to disaster stricken islands.
As incoming Chair of the Council, Minister Osborne is expected to coordinate the implementation of the recommendations coming out of the meeting over the course of the year.
 

Outgoing Chair, Grenada’s Minister for Climate Resilience, the Environment, Forestry, Fisheries and Disaster Management, the Honourable Simon Stiell in his remarks, said during the meeting significant effort was placed at looking at what took place in last year’s hurricane season and the impact it had on member states.
Minister Stiell also shared his views on the need for collective approach to climate change.
 

He said, “The spirit that is engendered within the commission is that of identifying common agendas and common ground that not only unite us in terms of the challenges we face, but in terms of identifying the collective solutions. So rather than seeing the challenges on a national level alone and trying to come up with national solutions, there is need for us to work collectively.”
 

The COMES5 Meeting was held under the theme ‘Building Resilience on the Frontlines of Climate Change’.
 

Following the COMES 5 meeting, a signing ceremony for a project which will contribute to the preservation of Caribbean ecosystems was also conducted. The ‘Integrating Water, Land and Ecosystems Management in Caribbean Small Island Developing States’ (IWEco) project is valued at twenty million US dollars and is expected to have the following outcomes:
 

1. Enhanced livelihood opportunities and socio-economic co-benefits for targeted communities from improved ecosystem services functioning.
 
2. Strengthened national and regional systems for monitoring of environmental status with respect to key international agreements.
 
3. Strengthened capacity of national and regional institutions and other stakeholders for water, land, and ecosystems management that accounts for climate change.
 

The participating OECS countries that will be implementing the project are Antigua and Barbuda, Grenada, St. Kitts and Nevis, St. Lucia and St. Vincent and the Grenadines.
 

The commitment document to implement the programme over the next four years was signed by the Ministers who were present at the meeting. They are, the Honourable Molwyn Joseph (Antigua and Barbuda), the Honourable Simon Stiell (Grenada), the Honourable Eugene Hamilton (St. Kitts and Nevis) and the Honourable Herod Stanislas (St. Lucia).
 

Overseas Territories such as Montserrat, do not qualify for the IWEco project due to their connections to the United Kingdom.
 

For more details on the IWEco project, please visit http://www.cep.unep.org/gef-iweco-1/gef-iweco