The European Union held the 17th round of a forum devoted to cooperation with its overseas territories that are located in the Atlantic, Antarctic, Arctic, Caribbean, Indian Ocean and Pacific. These territories have constitutional ties with France, Denmark, the Netherlands and the United Kingdom. The annual OCT-EU Forum is the highest-level political instance that brings together all Overseas Countries and Territories (OCT), the member states to which they are connected, as well as the EU. The 17th forum produced five cooperation programs worth 44 million euros.
Speaking at the forum in Papetee (Tahiti), EU Commissioner for International Cooperation and Development Neven Mimica commented that “as EU outposts in some of the remotest parts of the world, the EU Overseas Countries and Territories are of strategic importance for our planet’s sustainable development and the biodiversity conservation in particular. Today we jointly launched new programs to tackle climate change, increase people’s living standards and create sustainable job opportunities.”
The 17th annual OCT-EU Forum comes at a time when the EU reflects on its future ties and partnership with its OCTs for the upcoming period 2021-2027. The agreements signed on this occasion include 18 million euro program for climate change mitigation and sustainable energy. The package will help all EU’s OCTs in building up their resilience to climate change, curb and mitigate disaster risks and move towards low-carbon, energy-efficient economies.
There are also separate agreements targeting specific needs such as a 13 million euro funding dedicated to a program in Aruba that will contribute to establishing the Faculty of Sustainable Island Solutions through Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics (SISSTEM) at the University of Aruba, which will make the university the first academic hub in the region in this field. Funding for Bonaire will in turn target living standards and job prospects for young people on the island while special measures for St. Maarten and the British Virgin Islands will support reconstruction following hurricanes Irma and Maria.