Policy

Supporting the Overseas Territories

Issue

We have a broad responsibility to support the Overseas Territories and to ensure their security and good governance. Britain and territory governments share significant challenges: building more diverse and resilient economies; cutting public sector deficits; regulating finance businesses effectively; and protecting biodiversity and natural resources.

Actions

Overseas Territories Joint Ministerial Council

The Overseas Territories Joint Ministerial Council succeeds the Overseas Territories Consultative Councils. The Council discusses political and constitutional issues between the governments of the Overseas Territories and will meet once a year to agree priorities, develop plans and review their introduction. The UK Government and leaders of the Overseas Territories agreed a communiqué on 5 December 2012 setting out a detailed plan of action for the year ahead.

The Overseas Territories and the G8

Those Overseas Territories which host international finance centres have an important role to play in helping the UK to achieve it’s G8 objectives.

In the lead up to the G8 Summit in Lough Erne they responded positively and speedily by agreeing further steps on tax transparency and beneficial ownership.

The Prime Minister commended their leadership at the Open for Growth event on 15 June. The Government is continuing to work in partnership with the Overseas Territories on this important agenda.

The Overseas Territories Programme Fund

The Overseas Territories Programme Fund supports the work of government to maintain the security, stability and prosperity of the Overseas Territories. This fund supports the economic, security, environmental and governance strategies in the government’s white paper on the overseas territories.

The Department for International Development (DFID) provides budgetary support for Montserrat, Pitcairn and St Helena.

The Department for International Development’s Operational Plan 2011-2015 explains how DFID money is allocated to the territories and how expenditure is monitored for effectiveness.

The funding we provide will help maintain physical access to these islands, strengthen human capacity to deliver public services effectively, including health and education provision, and move the overseas territories towards self-sufficiency where possible.

Protecting the environment

The Overseas Territories host some of our most precious environmental assets. We work in conjunction with Territory Governments, Non-Governmental Organisations, the private sector and other stakeholders to protect and conserve their natural environments.

Environment and climate fund: Darwin Plus

The government launched Darwin Plus: Overseas Territories Environment and Climate Fund, in October 2012. The aim of Darwin Plus is to help deliver long-term strategic outcomes for the natural environment in the UK’s Overseas Territories.

This fund consists of contributions from the Foreign and Commonwealth Office, Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (DEFRA), and DFID. The fund will disburse around £2 million per year dedicated to a range of environment and climate-related projects to improve long-term natural resource management in the Overseas Territories.

Guidance and application forms for the fund are available on the Darwin Initiative website.

Protecting the overseas territories

One of the UK’s main military tasks is to provide security to the nation and its Overseas Territories. The Ministry of Defence (MOD) published a security policy in 2011, Overseas Territories: the Ministry of Defence’s contribution, which explains how the MOD will protect the Overseas Territories from 2012 to 2015.

Background

The Overseas Territories are very diverse, with thousands of small islands, vast areas of ocean, but also, in Antarctica, land 6 times the size of the United Kingdom. They include one of the world’s richest communities, in Bermuda; the most remote community, in Tristan da Cunha and one of the smallest, with only 54 people living on Pitcairn Island. The total population of the territories is roughly a quarter of a million.

There are 14 British overseas territories and most have a permanent resident population. The exceptions are the British Indian Ocean Territory and the British Antarctic Territory, and South Georgia and South Sandwich Islands. The latter two have research stations. The Sovereign Base Areas on Cyprus have a resident population of Cypriot nationals.

It is a long-standing policy commitment of successive UK Governments that the reasonable assistance needs of the overseas territories are the first call on the international development budget. The UK Government is committed under the United Nations Charter “to promote to the utmost… the well-being of the inhabitants of these territories”.

Three overseas territories, St Helena, Montserrat and Pitcairn, are dependent on aid as a result of extreme challenges including inaccessibility, undiversified economies and declining populations.

The 14 Overseas Territories are:

If you have a query about Gibraltar or any other Overseas Territory, please email enquiry.gibraltar@fco.gov.uk.

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