Attendees of the recent meeting included (from left) Turks and Caicos Islands Deputy Premier Erwin Jay Saunders, Caribbean Development Bank President Dr. Hyginus “Gene” Leon, Anguilla Premier Ellis Webster, and Virgin Islands Premier Dr. Natalio “Sowande” Wheatley. (Photo: GIS)

In the wake of Hurricane Irma, the Virgin Islands discovered that its relatively high per-capita gross domestic product made it ineligible for certain forms of development assistance and concessionary financing even though it is among the most climate-vulnerable nations in the world. 

During a recent meeting, British overseas territory leaders including Premier Dr. Natalio “Sowande” Wheatley addressed such issues with the Caribbean Development Bank, according to Government Information Services. 

The OTs’ financing needs and other special circumstances were the focus of the Inaugural Consultation with Overseas Countries and Territories and the CDB, which was hosted by Anguilla Premier Ellis Webster. 

“The historic consultation meeting has highlighted the specific circumstances and needs of OTs while promoting the benefits of further engagement and involvement with the bank,” Dr. Wheatley said. 

The premier added that OT leaders and the CDB formulated a framework that will build the VI’s resilience to development challenges by helping it access more financing avenues. 

“The Virgin Islands, like other OTs, are disproportionately susceptible to socioeconomic and environmental challenges,” Dr. Wheatley explained. “Therefore, one of the primary objectives of the consultation was to explore viable options for obtaining funding towards achieving our development goals.” 


The forum also allowed for high-level dialogue on advancing stronger representation for OTs within the structure of the bank, according to government. 

Besides Dr. Wheatley and Mr. Ellis, meeting attendees included Turks and Caicos Islands Deputy Premier Erwin Jay Sanders and senior managers from the territories. 

The VI government plans to host the next meeting, where discussions will be held on enhanced cooperation and improvement of the CDB’s capacity to further support the development agenda of OT borrowing member countries, according to GIS. 

Heads of government 

Also last month, Dr. Wheatley attended the CDB’s Annual Heads of Government Meeting, where the bank’s highest decision-making body discussed climate change and mitigation and adaption strategies. 

The VI has also assumed its rotation as governor on the bank’s board, according to government.