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TCI Government Considers Greenlighting Development Through Climate Change Lens

From left – Hon. Thomas Christopher Famous, Parliamentary Private Secretary to Home Affairs Ministry in Bermuda; Hon. Vincent Wheatley, Minister of Natural Resources, Labor and Immigration for the British Virgin Islands; Hon. Walter Roban, Deputy Premier and Minister of Home Affairs for Bermuda; His Excellency Nigel Dakin, Governor for the Turks and Caicos Islands; Hon. Washington Misick, Premier of the Turks and Caicos Islands; Hon. Josephine Connolly, Minister of Tourism and Environment for the Turks and Caicos Islands; and Hon. Rhondalee Braitwaite-Knowles, Attorney General for the Turks and Caicos Islands.

Cognizant of the potential negative impact certain developments could have on the ecosystem of the Turks and Caicos Islands, government is toying with the idea of approving construction project through the climate change filter.

Speaking at the country’s first ever Climate Change Summit at the Shore Club in Providenciales on Friday, April 22 – observed Earth Day - Minister of Tourism and the Environment Hon. Josephine Connolly emphasized the importance of the TCI protecting its environment at all costs for the benefit of future generations.

“Probably, we need to look at all the new developmental proposals, through a climate change lens," she said, proposing that such endeavor could be tethered to government concessions.

"The government is often asked for concessions for new developments. We may have to require that those developments are constructed in line with the government ‘s climate change charter,” she said.

The minister underscored the importance of tackling climate change, with the Turks and Caicos Islands doing its part in a tangible way.

“The Ministry of Tourism and Environment understands the necessity for urgent action and collaboration with our international counterparts, to support the Paris Agreement,” she said.

The Paris Agreement, often referred to as the Paris Accords or the Paris Climate Accords, is an international treaty on climate change, adopted in 2015. It covers climate change mitigation, adaptation, and finance.

Minister Josephine Connolly looks on with interest as CEO For FortisTCI, Ruth Forbes affixes her signature to the Climate Change Charter.

She explained that the reality of the threat - the lost and damage that as a territory, comprising of low-lying islands faces - has struck and deep chord within her, pointing out also that within the last few years, the Turks and Caicos Islands has suffered immensely at the hands of climate change.

“Within the last 14 years, the intensity ferocity of Hurricanes Irma, Ike and Maria over the Turks and Caicos Islands was a stark reminder that climate change is real,” Minister Connolly asserted,

She emphasizing that the TCI was amongst the most exposed countries for climate change impact.

“We are the most vulnerable to the impacts of climate change, with rising sea levels,” she said, stating that such issue was not one on which to keep silent, while urging those who would lend an ear, to assist in becoming more preemptive in the face of the climate phenomenon.

She further asserted that the people of the Turks and Caicos together with their regional counterparts, should commence their own conversation on climate change, not waiting on those further afield to make the first move. In doing so, the Turks and Caicos Islands, according to Minister Connolly, along with its regional partners would be able to determine the best action pathways.

“We need to become more proactive, initiate our own discussion, both locally and regionally, to determine the best course of direction,” she urged.

During the event, a Climate Change Charter was signed between government and FortisTCI, Provo Water Company, the Turks and Caicos Hotel and Tourism Association and Turks and Caicos Reef Fund.

Minister Connolly told the packed room that the climate change charter would enable the Turks and Caicos to forge a resilient path ahead through unity, to secure livelihoods for not only the present, but the future.

Minister Connolly pointed out that the charter was only the primer by the Progressive National Party (PNP) government, to embark on an ambitious plan to ensure the Turks and Caicos play a major role in the battle against climate change.

She said the target to remove from fossil fuel energy to renewable should be set this year with assistance mainly from light and power company Fortis.

Other presenters were His Excellency Governor Nigel Dakin, Premier Hon. Washington Misick, and Attorney General Hon. Rhondalee Braitwaite-Knowles.

The main speaker for the event was Walter Roban, Deputy Premier and Minister of Home Affairs for Bermuda. The summit was held under the theme 'Only One Earth: Invest in Our Planet'.



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