At the 17th OCT-EU Forum in Papeete (Tahiti) today, the EU discussed its future partnership with Overseas Countries and Territories (OCTs) and signed five cooperation programmes benefiting EU OCTs, totalling €44 million.
Speaking at the Forum, Commissioner for International Cooperation and Development Neven Mimica said: "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 programmes to tackle climate change, increase people's living standards and create sustainable job opportunities.”
The 17th annual OCT-EU Forum comes at a crucial time, as the EU reflects on its future partnership with Overseas Countries and Territories (OCTs) for the period 2021-2027.
The agreements signed today include an €18 million programme for climate change mitigation and sustainable energy. Itwill assist all EU OCTs in building up their resilience to climate change, curb disaster risks and move towards low-carbon, energy-efficient economies.
A number of separate agreements will benefit specific OCTs. A €13 million programme in Aruba will contribute to establish the Faculty of Sustainable Island Solutions through Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics (SISSTEM) at the University of Aruba. This will make the University the region's first academic hub in this field.
Funding of almost €4 million in Bonaire will be invested in activities and training targeted towards boosting living standards and job prospects for young people on the island.
Special measures for Sint Maarten (€7 million) and the British Virgin Islands (€2 million) will support reconstruction work in the aftermath of hurricanes Irma and Maria, which struck the Caribbean in autumn 2017.
The EU's Overseas Countries and Territories, or OCTs, are located in the Atlantic, Antarctic, Arctic, Caribbean, Indian Ocean and Pacific. They have constitutional links to Denmark, France, the Netherlands and the United Kingdom. The annual OCT-EU Forum is the highest-level political instance that brings together all OCTs, the Member States to which they are linked, as well as the EU.