18 November 2021
The annual Overseas Territories (OTs) Joint Ministerial Council (JMC), which brings together political leaders from the OTs and UK Ministers, took place between Monday, 15, and Wednesday, 17 November 2021. The JMC was chaired by the Rt Hon Amanda Milling MP, Minister for the Overseas Territories.
The JMC is the principal forum for high level dialogue between the governments of the Overseas Territories and the UK. The JMC covers a wide spectrum of issues of mutual interest including promoting good governance, law and order improvements, sustainable economies, social development, environmental improvement and addressing health concerns.
In line with COVID-19 guidance, this year’s JMC was a much smaller event with sessions available both in person and virtually. St Helena Government’s UK Representative, Kedell Worboys MBE, was in attendance at the event in London whilst the Chief Minister and Ministers attended via a virtual link from the Island. Relevant officials were also able to observe the proceedings.
Topics for debate included:
- Environment and Oceans
- International Maritime Organisation’s recent compliance audit
- UK Government and Overseas Territories Relationship
- Economic Resilience
- Law Enforcement
St Helena’s Chief Minister made interventions during discussions on the Environment and Oceans, the relationship between UK Government and the Overseas Territories, Economic Resilience, Health, Law Enforcement and Inclusivity.
Chief Minister Julie Thomas said:
“Having the opportunity to participate in this, our inaugural JMC, was indeed a pleasure and one that I and my ministers found informative and enlightening. Meeting UK Ministers together with fellow Political Leaders from the Overseas Territories, highlighted the importance of partnership working and the need to nurture and build solid relationships with our OT family. It was apparent that many of the Territories have similar concerns and challenges, but discussion also highlighted the risk of having a one-size-fits-all approach. St Helena must embrace these opportunities to bring to the forefront our unique challenges but we must also recognise the value in utilising these events to place emphasis on what we have achieved, so that our successes can also be used by our OT colleagues as blueprints. I believe that as a Government we need to do more in communicating our achievements, which could ultimately lead to accessing resources both technical and financial, which currently remain untapped.”
Following the JMC the Chief Minister also had a bilateral meeting with Minister Milling.
The JMC is a meeting between political leaders. As such, Governors from the OTs, who are public servants, attend as observers and do not take part in the political discussions during each session.
Announced at this week’s JMC was the New ‘Blue Shield’ Programme for UK Overseas Territories. The Blue Shield Programme is a new UK Government initiative aimed at tackling the challenges of illegal fishing and unlawful marine activities around the UK OTs. It will help UK OTs strengthen the management and enforcement of their oceans. Further details are available here: https://www.gov.uk/government/news/new-blue-shield-for-uk-overseas-territories-to-defend-oceans
Scholarship Student, Shelby Bargo, currently studying Ocean Science and Marine Conservation at Plymouth University, also had the opportunity to represent St Helena at a reception during the JMC with HRH the Duke of Cambridge, Prince William.
During the session Shelby, along with other young people, were split into two groups to speak with the Duke. Heads of Delegations also met the Duke and all other JMC participants were present. The young people from the OTs were able to speak about environmental work, what they are studying at university, life in an OT and other interests.
“It was an amazing opportunity to meet and speak directly to HRH Prince William, the Duke of Cambridge, and to network with students from other Overseas Territories. I got to share with the Duke and the rest of the students, details about our Island and culture, the negative impacts we are experiencing as a result of climate change and the efforts that are being made by St Helena to reduce them.”
The Duke of Cambridge’s address at this event can be viewed online here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=wHW9DuNkOh8
Four photos are attached to this release.
18 November 2021