The ability to consider and act on shared challenges and promote Jersey was a key benefit of hosting and attending the 39th British-Irish Council (BIC) Summit last week, as we discussed the latest political developments from across the member administrations since the last Summit in November 2022, which was hosted in Blackpool by the UK.
We attended a series of presentations, one-to-one meetings, and group sessions to discuss issues including housing pressures, the rising cost-of-living, the energy crisis, the impact of labour shortages on the economy, climate change, the implementation of the UK-EU Trade and Cooperation Agreement and the Northern Ireland Protocol, and the continuing response to the war in Ukraine.
It has been a great honour for us to host the Summit for the fifth time here in Jersey, with the Island looking its very best for the visit of key Ministers and officials. It has been a very worthwhile event, where we have had the chance to promote and share some of our policies, local produce, talented performers and artists, innovative local businesses and natural beauty to an external audience and strengthen relationships with officials and Ministers from other jurisdictions.
We embraced the theme of Building for the Future: Green and Affordable by visiting the Limes housing development in St Helier, which is being built using modern methods of construction and described as a way to ‘produce more, better quality homes in less time’.
Ministers were impressed by the green and affordable nature of the Limes housing development and the construction techniques being used in the build, which will speed up delivery, reduce labour costs, eliminate unnecessary waste and improve quality.
Tackling housing pressures, whilst considering energy sustainability and resilience, is a challenge facing all member administrations, so this was an opportunity for cross-learning and showcasing the Island’s move towards modern methods of construction in the building industry.
Continuing the green theme, I was delighted to see the presentation of hydrogen power technology by Island yachtsman, Phil Sharp. As a government, we are helping to support the move to clean tech in the maritime industry and Ministers heard how it is being applied to future maritime vessels to bring Jersey’s maritime strategy to net zero in the future.
Of course, the BIC Summit is also an opportunity to discuss shared challenges and solutions to the many issues we currently face, particularly with our close neighbours. In this regard, I was delighted to meet with Guernsey’s Chief Minister, Deputy Peter Ferbrache, for important discussions on key areas in which we will work closely together. We will publish further details on our joint areas of working shortly.
The British-Irish Council Summit is an important forum for collaboration between governments and I look forward to seeing how we develop and evolve our shared challenges and solutions in future meetings. I look forward to updating islanders further on solid and tangible results from a broad spectrum of engagements across the council.
The Chief Minister, Deputy Kristina Moore, and Minister for External Relations, Deputy Philip Ozouf, were joined by leaders and ministers from the eight BIC member administrations: the UK and Irish Governments; the devolved administrations of the Scottish and Welsh Governments and Northern Ireland Executive; and the Governments of the Isle of Man and Guernsey.
This year also marks the 25th anniversary of the signing of the Good Friday Agreement in 1998, which was acknowledged by Deputy Moore in her opening statement. The British-Irish Council was one of the institutions created under that Agreement with the objective of promoting positive and practical relationships among the people of these islands and to provide a forum for consultation and co-operation.