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Minister for Environment, Sustainability and Climate Change, the Hon Prof John Cortes gave a keynote address at the opening session of a conference on the Environment in the UK Overseas Territories and Crown Dependencies on Tuesday, following the formal opening by Lord Zac Goldsmith, UK Minister of State for Pacific and the Environment.

The virtual conference, the sixth in the series organised by the UK Overseas Territories Conservation Forum, goes under the title of “Staying Connected for Conservation in a Changed World”, and runs over four days this week and next. It is attended by delegates from Governments and NGOs of the UK and most of the OTs and CDs.

In his opening address, John Cortes traced the history of this series of conferences, which began in Gibraltar over 20 years ago when he was General Secretary of GONHS, and linked it to the creation of the OT/CD Environment Ministers’ Council, which he chairs, in Gibraltar in 2015. He stressed the importance of Government and NGOs working together in partnership, and explained how small territories can lead by example in developing environmental strategies and achieving aims. He also highlighted the importance of using local knowledge in advancing environmental objectives, while welcoming funding initiatives from UK Government and UK NGOs in helping achieve these aims.

Contributors to the Conference from Gibraltar include the Department of Environment & Climate Change, GONHS, and the University of Gibraltar. They will be presenting results of research in Gibraltar, and contributing to the discussion on conservation.