Stronger legislation needed to combat climate change
Minister for Natural Resources Vincent Wheatley is urging Latin American and Caribbean leaders to implement legislation that accelerates climate resilience in the region.
Speaking at a 2021 United Nations Climate Change Conference (COP26) side event for parliaments in the region, Wheatley said the resposibility lies with every nation, regardless of their size.
“Latin America and the Caribbean’s ability to cope with the ongoing negative effects of climate change, especially among the Low-lying Coastal States and Small Islands Developing States (SIDS) of the region, hinges on our ability to accelerate climate resilience using legislation that can, among other things, improve building codes that strengthen the ability of our housing and building infrastructure to withstand climate shocks,” the Minister of Natural Resources said.
Wheatley said policies have improved drastically but to help clean up the carbon footprint of the region, the government must strengthen its environmental legislation.
“We have continued to strengthen our environmental policies and laws to conserve and protect our environment. For example, we have adopted stronger measures to protect mangrove forests that serve as natural coastal defences from storm surges and also absorb carbon dioxide from the air,” he added.
In addressing the panel of parliamentary representatives from Latin America and the Caribbean, Wheatley used the BVI’s’ recovery from hurricanes Irma and Maria as examples of how climate change can severely impact small-island states in the region.
“I speak from the experience of the British Virgin Islands as a post-disaster society that is still recovering from the devastation of two category five hurricanes in September 2017. You will recall that Hurricane Irma was one of the strongest hurricanes on record to pass over the Atlantic and Caribbean,” the minister said.
Earlier this month, Barbados Prime Minister Mia Mottley had gained international praise when she gave a speech at COP26 on how climate change has impacted the small island states worldwide.
Mottley challenged more developed nations to do better with their fight against climate change as the rising temperature signals a death sentence for those who live in island-states like the British Virgin Islands.
COP26 is the 26th United Nations Climate Change Conference.
It is being held at the SEC Centre in Glasgow, Scotland, United Kingdom, between 31 October and 12 November 2021, under the presidency of Alok Sharma.
The countries involved in the conference are expected to enhance their drive and ambition towards mitigating climate change. Minister Wheatley was the BVI’s representative.