A Falkland Islands delegation made up of two members of the Legislative Assembly, Roger Edwards and Ian Hansen will be attending the second annual Overseas Territories Joint Ministerial Conference (JMC) in London next week. The Falkland Islands’ delegation will also include HE the Governor Nigel Haywood, Jamie Fotheringham (Head of Policy), and Sukey Cameron (Representative in UK).
The Overseas Territories Joint Ministerial Council succeeds the Overseas Territories Consultative Councils. The Council discusses political and constitutional issues between the governments of the Overseas Territories and meets once a year to agree priorities, develop plans and review their introduction. The UK Government and leaders of the Overseas Territories agreed a communiqué on 5 December 2012 setting out a detailed plan of action for the year ahead.
Those Overseas Territories which host international finance centers have an important role to play in helping the UK to achieve its G8 objectives and in the lead up to the G8 Summit in Lough Erne they responded positively and speedily by agreeing further steps on tax transparency and beneficial ownership.
The Overseas Territories Program Fund supports the work of government to maintain the security, stability and prosperity of the Overseas Territories. This fund supports the economic, security, environmental and governance strategies in the government’s white paper on the Overseas Territories. The Department for International Development, DFID, provides budgetary support for Montserrat, Pitcairn and St Helena. The DFID Operational Plan 2011/2015 explains how DFID money is allocated to the territories and how expenditure is monitored for effectiveness.
The funding provided by the UK will help maintain physical access to these islands, strengthen human capacity to deliver public services effectively, including health and education provision, and move the overseas territories towards self-sufficiency where possible.
The Overseas Territories host some of the most precious environmental assets. The UK government works in conjunction with Territory Governments, Non-Governmental Organizations, the private sector and other stakeholders to protect and conserve their natural environments.
The UK government launched Darwin Plus: Overseas Territories Environment and Climate Fund, in October 2012. The aim of Darwin Plus is to help deliver long-term strategic outcomes for the natural environment in the UK’s Overseas Territories.
This fund consists of contributions from the Foreign and Commonwealth Office, Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (DEFRA), and DFID. The fund will disburse around £2 million per year dedicated to a range of environment and climate-related projects to improve long-term natural resource management in the Overseas Territories.
One of the UK’s main military tasks is to provide security to the nation and its Overseas Territories. The Ministry of Defense (MOD) published a security policy in 2011, Overseas Territories: the Ministry of Defense's contribution, which explains how the MOD will protect the Overseas Territories from 2012 to 2015.
The Foreign Office describes the Overseas Territories as very diverse, with thousands of small islands, vast areas of ocean, but also, in Antarctica, land 6 times the size of the United Kingdom. They include one of the world’s richest communities, in Bermuda; the most remote community, in Tristan da Cunha and one of the smallest, with only 54 people living on Pitcairn Island. The total population of the territories is roughly a quarter of a million.
There are 14 British overseas territories and most have a permanent resident population. The exceptions are the British Indian Ocean Territory and the British Antarctic Territory, and South Georgia and South Sandwich Islands. The latter two have research stations. The Sovereign Base Areas on Cyprus have a resident population of Cypriot nationals.
It is a long-standing policy commitment of successive UK Governments that the reasonable assistance needs of the overseas territories are the first call on the international development budget. The UK Government is committed under the United Nations Charter “to promote to the utmost… the well-being of the inhabitants of these territories”.
Three overseas territories, St Helena, Montserrat and Pitcairn, are dependent on aid as a result of extreme challenges including inaccessibility, undiversified economies and declining populations.