Minister Plenipotentiary Voges calls for EU to take St. Maarten’s Vulnerabilities into Account

During speech at EU/OCT Forum in Greenland

During the Overseas Countries and Territories the European Union Conference held last week in Ilulissat, Greenland the Minister Plenipotentiary of St. Maarten the Honorable Mathias Voges stressed St. Maarten’s role as a new country within the Overseas Countries and Territories constellation and the steps Government is taking in order to ensure adequate sustainable development for the Country.


The Minister Plenipotentiary, in his comments, stated that St. Maarten wasted no time to form a national coordination-working group charged with the task of managing St. Maarten/ EU Relations. "It is our intention to structurally mainstream EU relations throughout the Government organization by establishing sub- workgroups consisting of representatives from the various Ministries in order to coordinate St. Maarten and EU relations," stated the Minister Plenipotentiary.

Minister Voges also stressed St. Maarten’s Economic Vulnerabilities with regards to social and economic situations. "We as a Country would like Europe to consider OCTs in General, and St. Maarten’s in particular, vulnerabilities to economic and social conditions; our sensitivities to changes in climate and environment; rising sea levels and natural disasters. For this purpose, St. Maarten calls for vulnerability indices to be incorporated into the listed criteria and weighted in a manner that gives a more accurate measurement of the level of development of OCTs," commented the Minister Plenipotentiary.

"Much emphasis is placed on the support of agricultural and mining exports to the extent that it provides for additional support in the event of changes within the economy. Though this is an important provision we should however not neglect those countries that depend predominantly on services, which include both financial and tourism services .We therefore call for similar provisions to be applied to OCTs service sectors," commented Minister Voges with regards to the St. Maarten Tourism sector, the Country’s only industry. St. Maarten felt that there was not enough attention given by the European Union regarding Overseas Countries whose economies depended on services such as Tourism.

The Minister Plenipotentiary also reiterated that St. Maarten is currently looking into investing in green technologies, such as wind turbines and solar power to generate clean energy for both the local population and the tourism industry.

Participants at the Forum included Dutch, French, Danish and British Overseas Territories of the European Union who gathered in the small town of Ililussat above the Arctic Circle in order to raise matters that are of concern to the countries and territories. Environmental factors influencing growth are one of the foremost concerns of the OCT members and significant time was spent discussing ways in which the European Union can assist in financing solutions to mitigate the effects of climate change and biodiversity loss.

The OCT conference centered on the theme "How Cool is Green" ended on the 27th of September. St. Maarten’s attendance was covered by the European Union.