Founder of Virgin Group Sir Richard Branson, while speaking at the opening ceremony of the inaugural meeting of the Organisation of Eastern Caribbean States (OECS) Council of Ministers of Environmental Sustainability challenged Eastern Caribbean countries to set up a marine reserve beyond the 25-mile of their respective shores.
Mr. Branson’s challenge was presented on 30 September at the Eileen L. Parsons Auditorium, H.Lavity Stoutt Community College in the presence of Dr. Didacus Jules, Director General of the Organization of Eastern Caribbean, BVI Premier Hon. Dr. Orlando Smith, BVI Governor David Duncan, and BVI Minister for Natural Resources and Labour Hon. Kedrick Pickering. He told the gathering that the Eastern Caribbean Environment Ministers have the chance to do something truly historic.
Furthermore, Sir Richard suggested that the Ministers could match President Barack Obama’s creation of the world’s largest marine protected area by the Pacific Remote Islands National Marine Monument by more than six times its original size from nearly 87,000 square miles to more than 490,000.
He also noted that the regional Ministers could also look to Bush’s moves to protect nearly 200,000 square miles of the Pacific Ocean as conservation areas.
The high-level ceremony featured addresses by Premier Dr. the Hon. D. Orlando Smith, and His Excellency Governor John S Duncan.
The Opening was followed by a one-day meeting on 1 October at Maria’s By The Sea. The meeting’s agenda included topics on ocean governance, energy and climate change in addition to other relevant policy issues related to natural disasters, and Small Island Developing States (SIDS).
Dr. Orlando Smith expressed enthusiasm at the potential opportunities to be gained from the meeting, especially in strengthening relationships among the OECS Member States.