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British Overseas Territories: Climate Change Adaptation

Volume 742: debated on Tuesday 12 December 2023

6. What steps his Department is taking to support the overseas territories with climate change adaptation. (900594)

The FCDO is working in partnership with the territories to develop climate security assessments through the conflict, stability and security fund. Our blue planet programme has provided over £35 million since 2016 to enhance marine protection and build climate change resilience.

I am reassured that the UK is investing heavily in climate change adaptation. Does my hon. Friend agree that the best way of future-proofing that is for the FCDO to appoint a dedicated Minister for all the overseas territories and to ensure that the UK never relinquishes sovereignty for any of them?

I have recently been appointed as the FCDO Minister responsible for the overseas territories. Furthermore, the Prime Minister has made it clear that every Department should have a Minister whose portfolio covers responsibilities to the OTs. The UK has no doubt about its sovereignty over the overseas territories. Any decision to end British sovereignty should be on the basis of a clear constitutionally expressed wish of the territory’s people.

As you know, Mr Speaker, our global British family in the UK overseas territories contains 94% of all the unique species that the UK is responsible for. These huge marine areas throughout the world’s oceans are hugely vulnerable to climate change, yet are negligible contributors to it. It has been great to see more OTs sign up to the blue belt initiative, work with groups such as Great British Oceans and attend the recent COP. What is the Minister doing to encourage more overseas territories to join the blue belt and to assist overseas territories to get access to strategic international funding for conservation, adaptation and resilience?

It is an important question. Our need to tackle climate change extends widely to the OTs. We have done significant work on the blue belt programme, and we have engaged a large number of OTs at COP28 this year so that we can help push forward their work and give greater access to this funding. It is vitally important.