We are here today in Road Town as world leaders, policy-makers and delegates from nearly 200 countries attend the COP27 UN climate summit in Egypt.
This year’s COP occurs at a time when the global energy crisis is exacerbated by war, extreme weather events continue to devastate coastal communities, and rising interest rates and the threat of recession affects advanced and developing countries alike.
As Lawrence Summers, the former US Treasury secretary, recently stated: “This is the most complex, disparate and cross-cutting set of challenges in the last 40 years”.
This is a perfect backdrop for our Beyond Globalisation Conference today, and I look forward to further exploring the drivers and barriers to growth and how the BVI can future-proof for the benefit of the next generation.
Despite the complex current challenges, it is important not to lose sight that globalisation has been, for many decades, a force for good.
It has increased trade, investment, and job creation, which in turn has elevated standards of living, reduced poverty and given opportunities not afforded to previous generations.
The BVI has played an important part in the globalisation story.
People and businesses choose the BVI because of our robust legal framework, regulation and conformity to international standards.
We are a popular and efficient jurisdiction for the incorporation and operation of a range of entities, including holding companies, multi-shareholder companies, joint venture companies and funds, trusts and partnerships.
We are also well-known for our professional service firms, primarily legal, insolvency and accounting, as well as our well-renowned centre where disputes are resolved in our Commercial Court and the International Arbitration Centre.
The jurisdiction’s tax neutrality, agile corporate framework, low administrative costs, and strong legal sector have long created the perfect ecosystem to conduct business.
The BVI’s commitment to a robust regulatory framework and international standards, in lock step with its dedication to driving innovation in financial services, have also been key components of its success.
One of the big side themes from Cop 27 has been the impact of climate change on small island states. This is certainly one of the biggest challenges we face.
Ecologically fragile, the small island state is ground zero for the catastrophic risks of intense hurricanes, rising sea levels and torrential rainfall. The tourism industry in the British Virgin Islands and the jobs that rely on the visitor economy are already threatened by rising sea levels, flooding, drought, erosion, and coral and sargassum bleaching.
Yet it is also an opportunity for the BVI. The jurisdiction is well-placed to position itself as a centre for green finance with a genuine interest in supporting the cause.
That is why the BVI has a delegation at COP27 led by Minister Turnbull. It is important to be around the table when these global issues that will acutely impact us occur. We, as a global community, must address global issues together.
We got a preview of our new report - ‘Beyond globalization: The British Virgin Islands contribution to global prosperity in an uncertain world’. from Mr. Pragnell at the House of Assembly yesterday, and I was pleased to see that this is one of the areas in which he has identified that the BVI can make inroads.
Our financial services industry’s growth depends largely on what is happening around the globe, often outside our borders. Therefore, we, both in the private and public sectors, must do what is necessary to meet the challenges that lie before us and avail ourselves of the opportunities that develop.
Our global economy must and will continue to evolve as we rise to meet the challenges that lie ahead, from combatting climate change and tackling inequality to incorporating new digital assets and currencies into our global financial structures.
The BVI will remain steadfast in our commitment to recalibrating global growth and remaining at the forefront of these developing trends.