The Island’s UNESCO Biosphere status and its work to protect the marine environment were highlighted during the 30th British-Irish Council Summit in Guernsey today.
Chief Minister Howard Quayle MHK and Geoffrey Boot MHK, Minister for the Department of Environment, Food and Agriculture, led a senior Isle of Man delegation attending the event.
Mr Quayle took part in discussions on a range of issues, including developments in relation to Brexit and action to tackle marine litter and single use plastics.
The British-Irish Council (BIC), established under the terms of the Good Friday peace agreement, is the only international forum comprising the governments of the UK, Ireland, Scotland, Wales, Isle of Man, Jersey and Guernsey.
It plays an important role in developing positive links between member countries and provides a platform for consultation and co-operation on matters of mutual interest.
As well as contributing to the summit’s main agenda, the Chief Minister and Minister Boot took the opportunity to hold informal talks with their political counterparts.
This included a first meeting with Senator John Le Fondré, the new Chief Minister of Jersey, and a discussion with Karen Bradley MP, Secretary of State for Northern Ireland.
The Isle of Man delegation also met David Lidington MP, the Lord Chancellor and Minister for the Cabinet Office, and Robin Walker MP, Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State at the Department for Exiting the European Union.
The Chief Minister said:
‘Brexit continues to be a priority for the Isle of Man and I was able to update our BIC colleagues about the progress of our European Union (Withdrawal) Bill and the considerable work that is taking place to identify Manx legislation that will need to change as a result of the UK leaving the EU. I also addressed issues regarding the Island’s constitutional position and reaffirmed our belief that for the fight against financial crime to be truly effective there must be an international solution.’
Ahead of the main summit, Minister Boot took part in a meeting to consider ways to promote marine biodiversity, reduce marine litter and tackle ocean acidification.
Mr Boot commented:
‘We are very proud to be the first entire nation in the world to become a UNESCO Biosphere Region. Our approach to protecting and sustainably managing our marine environment played an important role in achieving that accolade. The BIC meeting provided an opportunity to showcase the excellent work being carried out by the Isle of Man Government and volunteer organisations to remove tonnes of plastics from our beaches.’
‘The Island is also developing a plan to reduce the unnecessary use of single use plastics and will continue to work with its BIC neighbours to share ideas and best practice.’
The Chief Minister and Minister Boot attended the summit alongside delegations headed by Chief Minister Gavin St Pier (Guernsey), Taoiseach Leo Varadkar TD (Ireland), Minister for the Cabinet Office, David Lidington MP (UK), First Minister Carwyn Jones AM (Wales), First Minister Nicola Sturgeon (Scotland) and Chief Minister John Le Fondré (Jersey).