Island states’ important role in marine conservation should be reflected in the Ocean Declaration set to be adopted in June at the second United Nations Oceans Conference in Portugal, a VI representative said during a preparatory meeting last week at UN Headquarters in New York.

Benito Wheatley, Premier Andrew Fahie’s special envoy for international affairs, spoke to delegates at the Wednesday-to-Thursday meeting, emphasising the work of local authorities in mobilising conservation efforts and raising awareness about issues such as marine pollution, according to a press release provided by Mr. Wheatley.

Such discussions will continue at the June 2-6 conference in Portugal, which will seek to accelerate the implementation of the UN Sustainable Development Goal for “Life Below the Sea.”

At the NY meeting, Mr. Wheatley also highlighted the VI government’s recently prepared “Blue Economy Roadmap,” which was developed with the support of the UN Development Programme’s office for Barbados and Organisation of Eastern Caribbean States.

The plan, which has not been provided to the public, will help guide the VI’s sustainable use of the ocean and marine resources in keeping with the SDG goal, which is central to the UN 2030 Sustainable Development Agenda, according to the press release.

Mr. Wheatley said last week’s meeting was productive.

“As a matter of collective responsbility for the sustainability of the world’s oceans, seas and marine resources, it was important for the BVI and other small island developing states, as well as every jurisdiction which has some maritime responsibility, to give input on the desired outcome of the upcoming Oceans Conference,” he said. “The BVI’s voice was heard and the international community is aware that we are continuing the important work of ensuring the marine sustainability of the waters around us.”