The new Overseas Territories Environment Programme (OTEP), the result of a joint initiative betweeÓ the Foreign Office and the Department for International Development (DFID), doubles the amount of money available to Overseas Territories for sustainable environment work.
The OTEP will give funds to support the Overseas Territories in developing and implementing action plans under their respective Environment Charters signed in September 2001. These agreements between the UK and the Overseas Territories were designed to develop sound environmental management practices.
The OTEP will also fund locally-based projects which encourage local people towards a sustainable use of their natural resources, enhancing their quality of life and livelihood opportunities.
Speaking at the launch of the Programme, Gareth Thomas, Parliamentary Under Secretary at DFID, said:
'The Overseas Territories embrace a rich and diverse heritage of natural environments. It is the duty of us all to protect and conserve this heritage for the benefit not only of the Territories themselves, but also for future generations and the world as a whole. Good environmental conservation practice brings its own benefits and rewards in terms of sensible and sustainable economic development.'
Many of Britain's 14 Overseas Territories, ranging from Pitcairn Islands in the Pacific Ocean to Cayman Islands in the Caribbean, are home to some of the planet's most precious habitats and species. Foreign Office Minister Bill Rammell said:
'We want to work closely with the Overseas Territories to promote the sustainable use, or protection where necessary, of their natural resources so they are preserved for future generations.
'The UK's Overseas Territories have some of the world's most precious habitats and species and I believe that increased UK funding will help OT Governments and local people to build on the successes of the FCO's previous OT environmental funding programme. In particular, it will support the implementation of sustainable environmental management practices and increase the OTs' ability to implement their international environmental obligations [arising from international treaties].'
Chief Minister Michael Misick of the Turks and Caicos Islands welcomed the pooling of FCO and DFID resources for the benefit of environmental work in the Overseas Territories, saying 'This funding reflects the partnership on the ground between the TCI Department of Environment & Coastal Resources and the TCI National Trust, which has been reaffirmed through the TCI's implementation of the Environment Charters. The Department and the Trust have in the past received project development support from DFID and the UK OT Conservation Forum, itself funded by the FCO. It is hope that OTEP will continue to assist the coordination and prioritisation of environment projects in the TCI.'
The £3 million cash fund will be available until March 2007, by which time the UK and Overseas Territories governments need to show that real progress has been made with the money. This new money builds on previous Foreign Office programmes which provided £500,000 a year for environment projects in the Overseas Territories.
Notes for Editors
- There are 14 UK Overseas Territories. Anguilla, Bermuda, British Antarctic Territory (BAT), British Indian Ocean Territory (BIOT), British Virgin Islands (BVI), Cayman Islands, Falkland Islands, Gibraltar, Montserrat, Pitcairn Islands, St Helena and its Dependencies (Ascension Island and Tristan da Cunha), South Georgia and the South Sandwich Islands (SGSSI), the Sovereign Base Areas of Akrotiri and Dhekelia in Cyprus and The Turks & Caicos Islands (TCI).
- Media wanting more information can call Nicole Veash at the Foreign Office Press Office on 020 7008 3114 or Yasser Mehmood at the Department for International Development on 020 7023 0600.