The Virgin Islands is working with its Caribbean neighbours to help ensure the long-term health of key ecosystems, Natural Resources and Labour Minister Mitch Turnbull said on July 21 in the House of Assembly when delivering an update on his first Organisation of Eastern Caribbean States meeting since he became a minister.

Mr. Turnbull virtually attended the Ninth Meeting of the Council of Ministers on Environmental Sustainability (COMES) held May 31 to June 2 in St. Vincent.

This year’s meeting was themed “Shifting to More Integrated Approaches for Sustainability, Resilience and Prosperity in OECS SIDS,” he told the HOA.

The VI government and other OECS members have adopted the Revised St. George’s Declaration of Principles for Environmental Sustainability, also known as SGD 2040, to “minimise environmental vulnerability, improve environmental management, and protect the region’s natural resources,” Mr. Turnbull said.

These principles were penned in September 1999.

“The focus of the meeting was for ministers to recommend and endorse OECS projects for the upcoming calendar year that bridge the gap across priority environmental themes, and make linkages with key economic and social pillars for designing and accelerating sustainable policies and solutions,” the minister added.

Mr. Turnbull also said his ministry is committed to effectively managing the territory’s natural resources with an eye toward long-term sustainability.

He promised an update following the completion of a report on the decisions ratified by the council.

The council focuses on issues including climate change adaptation and mitigation, biodiversity management, renewable energy, and protected areas, among others, he said.