GREAT BAY – Sint Maarten’s participation in the United Nations (UN) 3rd Conference on Small Island Developing States (SIDS) that took place early September in the South Pacific Ocean island nation of Samoa, will be presented in a meeting on Tuesday to the Inter-Ministerial Working Group.
The workgroup consist of senior representatives from all the departments. The objective of the meeting is to see which areas each of the responsible ministries/departments can be prioritized for action that has been identified.
The ministries involved are Ministry of Public Health, Social Development & Labour, Ministry of Tourism, Economic Affairs, Transportation & Telecommunications, Ministry of Education, Culture, Youth & Sports, and Ministry of Public Housing, Spatial Planning, Environment and Infrastructure. Private sector stakeholders and Non-Governmental Organizations will also be involved in the process at a later stage.
At the conference, Sint Maarten was lauded for its National Development Planning (NDP) process as a best practice. The NDP process has been guided by the Department of the Interior and Kingdom Relations (BAK), of the Ministry of General Affairs.
The Kingdom delegation also included representatives from Curacao, Aruba and the Netherlands.
The three Dutch Caribbean SIDS, Aruba, Curacao and Sint Maarten, made a joint presentation which was organized by the Government of Sint Maarten. The presentation was given by Epke Brook, Senior Policy Advisor at Sint Maarten’s BAK (link to the presentation: www.sids2014.org/index,php?menu=1566).
Epke Brook who did the Sint Maarten presentation in Samoa focused on the progress made with regards to acceleration of the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs), the planning for the NDP, efforts towards regional and international integration and building strategic regional and international partnerships. Six themes were highlighted for partnership dialogues including in Sustainable Economic Development; Climate Change and Disaster Risk Management; Social Development in SIDS, Health and Non-Communicable Diseases (NCDs); Youth and Women; Renewable Energy and Ocean, seas and biodiversity.
Experiences were shared about some of the existing initiatives in Sint Maarten such as the Sint Maarten Public Private Partnership for sustainable tourism is taking place for the organization of the Florida-Caribbean Cruise Association’s 10th conference in October 2014.
The successful implementation of the Regional Risk Reduction Initiative for disaster risk preparedness and response continues with the establishment of the Sint Maarten Disaster Management Organization (SDMO) under the office of the Prime Minister.
The SDMO is responsible for legislation, management system, coordination, construction, drainage and infrastructure improvements, curfew system and public awareness. Expansions will be made in cooperation with the French side on information procedures on other possible threats (besides hurricanes), effective, efficient inter-ministerial coordination and establishment of a national security platform.
The continuing implementation of the HIV-AIDS program, The Girl Power Initiative, and the Prime Minister’s Healthy Living Program are noteworthy. With the emergence of Chikungunya and Dengue Fever in the Caribbean, Sint Maarten’s efforts through an awareness raising partnership with the French Saint Martin.
Joint awareness campaigns were created while dialogue continues on establishing a long term joint research, coordination and data inventorying. The observation and response to the Ebola virus is a current area of focus as Sint Maarten plays a regional hub role for the region.
The government approved legislation to tackle more structurally the addressing of sustainable energy solutions with foresight to explore future options for Liquid Petroleum Gas. A potential partnership with the World LPG Gas Association with the Carbon War Room and Aruba are possibilities.
Efforts are also ongoing between Sint Maarten and Saint Martin to continue working together to conduct environmental impact assessments for the protection of the Simpson Bay Lagoon, coastal waters, and Marine Park. A Taskforce for climate change adaptation was recently established whose role will be to guide and implement relevant programs and projects.
The presentation ended with a note that the approval of the UN SIDS Conference Outcome Document will provide the necessary framework for the Sint Maarten NDP to incorporate a well-defined 10 years SIDS mandate.
The SIDS Outcome Document will be incorporated into the Sustainable Development Goals priorities and enable the quicker adoption into the Sint Maarten NDP implementation strategies.
The presentation ended with a recommendation for Aruba, Curaçao and Sint Maarten to form a SIDS Dutch Caribbean Taskforce to take forward the implementation.
A partnership with existing and new United Nations agencies as well as other potential partners will be critical.
A SIDS presentation will be organized for policy and program officers in Sint Maarten to strengthen understanding on how to make this opportunity work for the country.
2014 is the International Year of SIDS. Its importance is expressed by the Secretary General of the UN as follows: “The International Year is an opportunity to appreciate the extraordinary resiliency and rich cultural heritage of the people of small island developing states.”