For the last few weeks, much of the world has focused on the northern part of the United Kingdom. To be precise, the world’s gaze was on a “wee town” in Scotland called Glasgow.
Quite literally, the future of the planet, as we know it, depended on decisions made during the meeting of world leaders at the United Nations Climate Conference of the Parties, more commonly known as COP 26.
Leaders from almost every nation on earth gathered in Glasgow, along with approximately 25,000 persons in attendance.
Representing the Overseas Territories were Parliamentary Secretary Quincia Gumbs-Marie of Anguilla, Deputy Premier Walter Roban of Bermuda, Premier Wayne Panton of the Cayman Islands, Minster Josephine Connolly of the Turks and Caicos Islands, and Minister Vincent Wheatley of the Virgin Islands
The pertinent issues discussed were:
-To secure global net-zero by mid-century and keep warming to 1.5 degrees Celsius
-To adapt to protect communities and natural habitats.
Failure to contain the world’s temperature will lead to Increased droughts and heatwaves; Irregular crop seasons; Stronger Hurricanes, and Rises in sea levels.
Countries with large landmasses, such as; Russia, China, and the United States, which produce the most carbon emissions, have the luxury of not worrying about the adverse effects of rises in sea levels and stronger hurricanes.
Unfortunately, for island states around the world, global warming and hurricanes have destroyed property, livelihood, and lives.
If anyone needs a reminder, they need look no further than the impact of two Category 5 hurricanes in September of 2017, Irma and Maria.
These hurricanes devastated the islands of Anguilla, Dominica, Puerto Rico, Saint Maarten, Turks and Caicos Islands, and the Virgin Islands.
Property damage was beyond calculation, an untold amount of jobs were lost, and unfortunately, thousands died in Puerto Rico and throughout the other islands.
Whilst everyone knew about COP 26, later in November, there was a lesser-known gathering that took place in the “wee town” of London, England. Representatives of the remaining British Colonies, or United Kingdom Overseas Territories Association (UKOTA), met for the annual Joint Ministerial Conference (JMC).
The UKOTA Members are as follows:
- Ascension Island
- British Virgin Islands
- Cayman Islands
- Falkland Islands
- Pitcairn Islands
- St Helena
- Tristan da Cunha
- Turks & Caicos Islands
Representing the Caribbean Overseas Territories were Premier Webster of Anguilla, Premier Burt of Bermuda, Minister Andre Ebanks of the Cayman Islands, Premier Farrell of Montserrat, Premier Misick of the Turks and Caicos Islands, and Premier Fahie of the Virgin Islands.
The Premiers of these Overseas Territories met to discuss items such as; relations with each other, relations with the United Kingdom, COVID-19 response, the adverse effects of Brexit, and economic resilience.
Without a doubt, one of the most important topics of discussion is the environmental and economic devastation that climate change is slowly but surely bringing to the island states.
Bearing in mind that the members of the UKOTA family are countries that depend on tourism, fishing, and clean environments, it was of utmost concern to discuss the need for adaptation for the impending effects of climate change.
Leadership through humility
More often than not, those who are elected leaders have to have an innate sense of self-confidence in order to navigate their country through challenging times.
Simply put, one cannot be wishy-washy and expect to command the respect of fellow politicians and the population as a whole.
The key to authentic leadership is to know how to balance confidence with humility.
During the JMC, leaders from diverse parts of the world, and differing personalities, had to demonstrate immaculate statesmanship qualities to put forward a wide range of perspectives on several items.
The 250,000 persons from around the Overseas Territories should be proud to know that their leaders are working collectively on behalf of all.
The leaders of larger nations would do well to take lessons from the OTs, as quite literally, both our livelihoods and lives depend on it.
Christopher Famous is the government MP for Devonshire East (Constituency 11) in Bermuda. You can reach him on WhatsApp at 441-599-0901 or e-mail at [email protected].