Citizen’s Dialogue, a Bottom’s Up Approach

A "Citizen’s Dialogue," is a conversation that engages all Sint Maarteners over a period of time discussing our shared future. The views and ideas presented should lead to the development of programmes that improve the lives of all the people. Individual interests will be taken over by shared national goals and objectives for a common destiny.

Society has been briefly informed about the National Development Plan back in December. His Excellency Governor Eugene Holiday during his New Year’s Ball speech spoke called on the nation to be "keepers of the community for a stronger and more robust Sint. Maarten."

The Governor questions: ‘How do we plan to fulfil our role as keepers of our community’s vision in 2013? The answer will vary from person to person, from family to family and from organization to organization. There will be differences in views and approaches between and within the public and private sectors."

Last week we saw the current coalition Government launch there Governing Program for the period 2012-2014. Political parties also present party programs prior to every election outlining what the party sees as important for the country.

Some countries carry out a "citizen’s dialogue." As country Sint Maarten, and in moving forward, there is no better time than the present to start such a national conversation about our future, after two years into country status. Let’s set the stage for a "Sint Maarten Conversation," a bottom’s up approach with respect to the nation’s future national development.

Let’s look at the next 20-years. Let the people determine how and where public funds should be spent. The zoning/development plan town hall meetings throughout 2012 brought people out and generated lively discussion with respect to the concerns of the people. Let’s have a bottom’s up approach with respect to where country Sint Maarten would like to be in 20-years.

These national conversations are not uncommon. It goes beyond party politics and party interests and is about the people’s interests, by the people for the people. The people are the ones who own the process as they have a stake in it.

A national conversation engages people from all walks of life through multiple channels. Our country at this point in time in its history has diverse needs and choices within every district along with global challenges that encompass climate change, globalisation and technological change.

It is we the people that have the means to shape and create country Sint Maarten’s future over the next 20-years. It is we who set the priorities for those who are elected on our behalf to carry out the people’s plan of action.

Roddy Heyliger