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The UK Overseas Territories - The UK's hidden natural treasures

UKOTs Albatross

Image: The RSPB

The 14 UK Overseas Territories hold some of the world's most remarkable environments, from vast coral reefs to windswept albatross islands, and over 90% of the threatened wildlife for which the UK is responsible. These environments are, however, highly vulnerable. Whilst Territory environmental protection laws and policies follow good practice in some important areas, many Territories have significant gaps in their environmental governance which urgently need to be addressed.

In a welcome and ambitious passage in the 2012 Overseas Territories White Paper, the Prime Minister wrote: 'We see an important opportunity to set world standards inour stewardship of the extraordinary natural environments we have inherited'. The White Paper also announced a new strategic priority to ensure that the Territories 'abide by the same basic standards of good government as in the UK'.

In the first phase of a new project the RSPB has made an assessment of progress in Overseas Territories' environmental governance since 2012. This is based on a previous study we conducted three years ago (see below).

Project objectives

  • Map out gains achieved in Overseas Territories' environmental governance in the past three years, namely between 2012 and 2015.
  • Help determine whether the high-level environmental ambitions of Overseas Territory and UK Governments are being met, and how.
  • Identify whether shared solutions exist for the remaining gaps, and therefore where resources and support should be strategically focussed.

Work planned or underway

Analysis reveals that:

- Environmental governance in many Overseas Territories is advancing at pace. Seven major pieces of environment-related legislation have been adopted, and other legislation is due for adoption.
- Capacity assistance from the UK Government has helped, in particular, on policy relating to trade in endangered species. Reasons for progress include political vision, focus, and injection of capacity and financing assistance.
- The analysis also reveals at least seven pieces of key legislation remain stalled in administrations.
- Development regulation and accountability remain the two weakest areas.

This study confined itself to four areas of policy: protection of wild species, valuable wildlife sites, standards in the permitting of development and good governance in these processes. It restricted itself to legislation and formally adopted policies, not their implementation.

A second phase of the project, due to report in early 2017, will look at further policy areas.

Downloads

An assessment of environmental protection frameworks in the UK Overseas Territories

An assessment of environmental protection frameworks in the UK Overseas Territories

1.33Mb, PDF

The 14 UK Overseas Territories (OTs) are home to some of the world’s most remarkable wildlife. These unique environments, ranging from vast coral reefs to windswept albatross islands, are highly vulnerable, containing over 90% of the threatened biodiversity for which the UK is responsible.

Date: 12 March 2013

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UK Overseas Territories environmental governance background assessments

2.25Mb, Zip

Environmental governance background assessments for Anguila, Ascension, Bermuda, British Antarctic Territory, British Indian Ocean Territory, British Virgin Islands, Cayman Islands, Cyprus Sovereign Base Areas, Falkland Islands, Gibraltar, Montserrat, Pitcairn, South Georgia, St Helena, Tristan da Cunha, and Turks & Caicos Islands.

Date: 12 March 2013

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Who to contact

Jonathan Hall
Head of UK Overseas Terrritories Unit
E-mail: jonathan.hall@rspb.org.uk

Partners

Anguilla National Trust      http://www.axanationaltrust.org/

Anguilla Department of Environment      http://www.gov.ai/doenvironment/

Ascension Island Government      http://ascensionconservation.org.ac/

Bermuda Audubon Society      http://www.audubon.bm/

Chagos Conservation Trust      http://www.chagosconservationtrust.org/

BVI National Parks Trust      http://www.bvinationalparkstrust.org/

Cayman Islands Department of Environment      http://www.caymanbiodiversity.com/

Cayman Islands National Trust      http://www.nationaltrust.org.ky/

Falklands Conservation      http://www.falklandsconservation.com/

Gibraltar Ornithological and Natural History Society      http://www.gonhs.org/

Montserrat Department of Environment      http://www.malhe.gov.ms/

Montserrat National Trust      http://www.montserratnationaltrust.ms/

St Helena National Trust      http://www.nationaltrust.org.sh/

Tristan Island Agriculture and Natural Resources Department      http://www.tristandc.com/wildlife.php

Turks and Caicos National Trust      http://www.nationaltrust.tc/

Funding

This work has been generously funded by a grant from the John Ellerman Foundation.