Tristan at centre stage of Overseas Territories' big week

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JMC Week Highlights

Reflections on 2018 JMC Week
from Tristan Government UK Representative Chris Carnegy

Some people have pre-conceptions about UK Overseas Territories, as places of dependency or controversy. Tristan da Cunha happily defies those stereotypes, and the Joint Ministerial Council is a key annual chance to further burnish its already good reputation. The Council held in December 2018 was a vintage opportunity, and we took it.

Ian Lavarello with Government Overseas Territories Minister Lord Ahmad of Wimbledon

As ever, the hard work began a long time earlier. For this Council, preparatory work began in the summer, but in many ways the foundations for the Chief Islander’s 2018 ‘Blue Belt’ meetings were laid years ago. In 2016 we persuaded UK to give financial support to an island-led marine protection initiative. Ian Lavarello’s message this year was: thanks for the resource that’s already pouring into this project, but don’t forget it needs to be there for the long term, and never forget that vital phrase island-led. It was good to hear the Overseas Territories minister, and his senior officials, endorse our position.

HRH The Duke of York meets Chief Islander Ian Lavarello and Chris Carnegy
at the OT JMC Reception at the Foreign and Commonwealth Office
Photo: Katie McMillan

UK ministers responded positively on our ambitions to gain access to the lucrative Chinese market for gourmet lobster. A sustainable fishery grows its business by maximising the price rather than the catch, so official help to navigate the tariff barriers will be very welcome.

This year brought Ian the chance to give evidence to the Foreign Affairs Select Committee. He took this opportunity to stress the need for long-term infrastructure funding, and was able to revive the island’s claim for a stronger harbour.

This year OT leaders were invited to Her Majesty’s annual diplomatic reception at Buckingham Palace. Ian was introduced to The Queen, Prince Charles and Prince William. The Queen spent longer with Ian than with most of the leaders, asking several questions about Tristan and his journey to London. This topic was mentioned the next night, in a speech by HRH the Duke of York.

This was a frantic but genuinely useful week. We made an impact and ‘landed’ key points with people who can really help Tristan.

Left: Gourmet Tristan Lobster enjoyed by HRH The Duke of York and other guests at the JMC Reception on 5th December.