Civil society groups meet at Border Point to Discuss Involvement in National Development Plan

PHOTO CUTLINE: Civil society representatives at the Border Point near Belvedere last Sunday discussing how they can make a difference in national development.

Meet and Greet Wednesday evening at Sonesta Great Bay Hotel

In the run-up to Wednesday’s National Development Plan (NDP) ‘meet and greet’ at Sonesta Great Bay Beach Hotel, Andrea Ortega-Oudhoff, Joeri Arion and Tom Woods, members of the NDP-project team held a brief informative presentation last Sunday, at the Border Point near Belvedere.

Focus of the presentation was the core component of the NDP Project: Community dialogues. The gathering was organized through The Talking Drums Foundation.

The presentation of the NDP project team was followed-up by an extensive round of Q&A with the audience present. The main concerns articulated by the diverse crowd of interested citizens were the experienced gap between society and government.

The project team responded to this concern by stressing the importance of developing a national plan through community engagement: "The NDP is a people’s project that is putting institutions in place that not only enable everyone in St. Maarten to come together to build a national development strategy but to have an on-going participation in its implementation".

The Millennium Development Goals (MDG)-report of 2011 has identified poverty and environment as crucial areas to be addressed in the short term planning of National Development.

In line with this point, a number of agriculturalists who were present at the Border Point voiced their concerns about food security and the lack of interest by the St. Maarten government to proactively address the problem of food security and the need to support numerous agricultural initiatives that are trying to tackle these problems.

In response the NDP project team emphasized what distinguishes the NDP from other policy programs: "The NDP is strategic policy. As the project progresses forwards, we’re going to be looking at ways to entrench this strategy so it cannot be readily altered by political intrusion.

"This puts NDP on a constitutional level. These issues will be addressed with people participation through the project itself. Governments will have their own four-year term proposals in how to implement their programs in accordance with the NDP, but the actual overarching strategy of the NDP will not be able to be changed by governments themselves. That is what we are looking at here."

The project team indicated that the planning and setting up of the framework for the NDP process has reached the crucial stage where the actual NDP work group will be established.

The persons and agencies stemming from the St. Maarten community, who have shown interest and willingness to have an active role in the project, will gather at the Sonesta Great Bay Beach Hotel on Wednesday, June 26, from 6.00pm to 9.00pm.

If there are still organizations and individuals interested to form part of this crucial process, they are welcome to join the event Wednesday evening at Great Bay.

For further information please refer to: na*****************@si************.org, and/ or call 542-0897.