Climate Change Impacts on UK Overseas Territories

The Marine Climate Change Impacts Partnership (MCCIP), working closely with the UK Overseas Territories (UKOTs), has today published the first comprehensive assessment of climate change impacts on coasts and seas across the UKOTs, presented at a special launch event in the UK this afternoon. 

In this crucial year of global climate action, it highlights the UKOTs’ climate challenges and showcases where they are working with nature to build resilience to climate change.

Speaking at the launch event, Lord Goldsmith, Minister for the International Environment and Climate, said:

“The impacts of climate change pose a serious threat to the vital marine ecosystems of the UK Overseas Territories and the coastal communities that depend directly on them.

“By undertaking research, such as the reports published today, we can close gaps in our understanding and gain valuable insights that will help us to meet the global challenge of protecting and restoring the health of our ocean.”

Focusing on six key regions (Polar, Pacific, South Atlantic, Mediterranean, Caribbean and North Atlantic, and Indian Ocean), more than 60 leading experts from all 14 UKOTs prioritised and highlighted their most important ecological and societal climate challenges. The regional lead for the South Atlantic was St Helena Government’s (SHG) Marine and Fisheries Conservation Officer, Rhys Hobbs.

The key climate change drivers identified in the South Atlantic are increasing temperatures, rising sea-levels, extreme weather, and changes in currents. This has impacts on and issues for:

  • Fish and invertebrates, such as tuna, squid and lobster, that are harvested for human consumption, affecting food security
  • The growth and productivity of marine plants, including plankton, which form the basis of the food web and kelp which provides important habitat
  • Coastal communities, as sea level rise and storms potential threaten the ‘islander’ way of life and cultural identity, including declines in iconic marine and seabird species.

Rhys commented:

“The impacts of climate change pose a significant risk to the South Atlantic Overseas Territories’ marine environments, their species, economies and cultural activities. These impacts are further exacerbated when combined with other human pressures, and it is vitally important that further evidence gathering combined with precautionary mitigation is implemented now in order to ensure future resilience within the territories. I hope that the work undertaken will both raise the profile and help in addressing this challenging issue in a co-ordinated way across the South Atlantic.” 

SHG UK Representative, Kedell Worboys MBE, who has been involved in this project since the beginning as a member of the MCCIP Overseas Working Group concluded:

“This is the first comprehensive assessment of the impacts of climate change on the Overseas Territories marine environment. The work culminating in the Launch today was done in collaboration with the people of the Territories. Whilst I have represented the UK Overseas Territories Association on the MCCIP Overseas Working Group and the Launch Working Group it has been great to see the engagement of St Helena in the process. It was particularly good to see Rhys Hobbs take on the role of Lead for the South Atlantic Working Group which involved a considerable amount of work and dedication.”

Notes to Editors

The Marine Climate Change Impacts Partnership (MCCIP) is a partnership between scientists, government, its agencies, non-governmental organisations (NGOs) and industry. The principal aim is to provide a co-ordinating framework to transfer high quality evidence on marine climate change impacts, and guidance on adaptation and related advice, to policy advisers and decision-makers.

This work was delivered by a dedicated working group including the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs who funded this work, the Marine Biological Association of the United Kingdom (chair), Centre for Environment, Fisheries and Aquaculture Science, the United Kingdom Overseas Territory Association, Foreign Commonwealth and Development Office, Joint Nature Conservation Committee, Marine Management Organisation, and Great British Oceans. This group collaborated with over 60 leading experts from across the UKOTs who produced the regional review papers.

Full detailed findings from the assessment are available at: www.mccip.org.uk/uk-overseas-territories. A series of digital Report Cards summarise information from six individual, peer-reviewed scientific reports commissioned by MCCIP and written by scientists from across the UKOT regions, providing detailed evidence of observed and projected climate-change impacts on the UKOTs selected priority climate change issues.

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SHG
21 July 2021

St Helena Government Communications Hub

Telephone: 22470
Email: kimberley.peters@sainthelena.gov.sh