Thursday, April 21– Two public officers recently represented the Virgin Islands (VI) at Info Day hosted by the Overseas Countries and Territories Association (OCTA) at the European Economic and Social Committee in Brussels, Belgium.
On April 12, Political and Public Affairs Officer Mr. Benito Wheatley of the BVI London Office and Deputy Director in the Department of Disaster Management Mr. Zebalon McLean attended Info Day to help raise awareness of the environmental and economic challenges facing Overseas Countries and Territories (OCTs) in the European Union (EU).
According to Mr. Wheatley, “The Territory’s participation and contribution to Info Day was a huge success,” adding that, presenters did an excellent job in illustrating to EU officials the challenges facing OCTs.
Mr McLean gave a presentation on “Advancing Comprehensive Disaster Management among the Virgin Islands and the Caribbean OCTs”. He emphasised the need for a Comprehensive Disaster Management (CDM) programme and highlighted disaster management practices in the VI and the components of its early warning systems.
Mr. McLean also highlighted successful partnership projects between OCTs and the EU in the field of disaster management. He made specific reference to the ACP-EU Risk Reduction Project in Anegada and the EU Funded R3i Project that aims at assisting VI and other OCTs to develop local capabilities. He also provided recommendations on the tools and best practices to support CDM and ways for advancing public warning capability levels.
He said EU’s assistance to OCTs in the area of disaster management will allow OCTs to build internal capacity that will be self-sustaining.
The day’s events featured presentations from two panels. Panel one focused on economic challenges and issues including trade and commerce, innovation, and tourism and natural assets. Panel two featured discussions on environmental excellence, biodiversity, energy and disaster management.
The VI is currently serving as vice president of OCTA. The Territory was voted to serve in that capacity in March 2011 at the Ministerial Conference held in New Caledonia. The OCTA works collectively through the promotion of common positions and partnerships for the sustainable development of Overseas Countries and Territories (OCTs) by cooperation, capacity building and communication.