Premier Dr. Natalio “Sowande” Wheatley (centre) and his special envoy and brother Benito Wheatley (left) meet with James Kariuki, the British deputy ambassador to the United Kingdom, last week in New York. (Photo: PROVIDED)

Talks in New York between Premier Dr. Natalio “Sowande” Wheatley and the British deputy ambassador to the United Nations have been hailed as “constructive.”

The premier met James Kariuki during a trip where he also called for greater self-governance for the territory in an address to the UN special committee on decolonisation.

During the June 10 talks, Dr. Wheatley thanked Mr. Kariuki for his “instrumental” role in securing a fact-finding mission to the VI by the decolonisation committee, according to a government statement.

“My meeting with Ambassador Kariuki was constructive as always,” the premier said. “He is a highly respected partner and voice of reason and pragmatism in UK-BVI relations.”
Dr. Wheatley also struck an upbeat note on the direction of the territory’s relationship with London.

“We share the view that there are opportunities for the BVI and UK to strengthen our relationship, especially as we consider how we respond to climate change, drive sustainable development and build a modern partnership that is fit for purpose in the 21st Century,” he said. “More dialogue will be needed for progress to be made on these fronts.”

Flash floods discussed

Torrential rains and flash floods that swept the VI this month also featured in the talks, according to government.

“Among other things, they discussed climate change and the impact of recent torrential rains on the islands; UK support as a development partner of small island developing states; the British Virgin Islands’ prospects for accessing climate finance; and governance reform,” the statement noted.

While in New York, Dr. Wheatley also signed the VI’s second Country Implementation Plan with the UN, which extends the international organisation’s programme of technical assistance for the territory from its agencies in the Caribbean.

The plan is aimed at boosting sustainable development goals such as building a “conducive business environment and investment climate.”

Another stated goal is to “strengthen the policy framework for governance, security and social cohesion.”

“The new CIP deepens our cooperation with the UN system on programming and technical assistance for the sustainable development of the BVI,” the premier said. “The wider range of technical assistance and support available will assist the government with policy development and implementation in the identified priority areas.”

Before heading to New York, Dr. Wheatley visited the Cayman Islands, where he engaged in talks regarding Caribbean postal services and border control in the Caymans.