Prime Minister Wescot-Williams Highlights National Cultural and Historical Heritage at Opening of UN Conference in Maho

Cites Importance of Heritage in National Development Plan, Commends Local Heritage Organizations
The Prime Minister of St. Maarten during her featured address at the opening of the UNESCO Capacity Building Conference for Small Caribbean Developing Nations highlighted the need for Heritage Conservation and the commitment to strengthen stakeholders already involved in the process during her featured address on Saturday evening. The conference, hosted by the Ministry of Education, Culture, Youth and Sport Affairs was focused on the building of capacity for small island developing nations in the Caribbean to better preserve their heritage through the building and strengthening of capacity of stakeholders, institutions and organizations to effectively preserve and conserve their historical and natural heritage. The results of the conference will eventually result in the St. Maarten Declaration that will lay forth a framework for national heritage capacity building in the insular Caribbean.
The Prime Minister during her address highlighted that St. Maarten, in its development throughout the years has undergone significant changes which has not always placed heritage conservation at the center; “St. Maarten in the past has developed very rapidly with all the consequences associated with that, it is for that reason that we must value the things, both in terms of natural and cultural heritage, that we still have. Our heritage is extremely valuable to us as a nation and as a country and it is therefore essential that we preserve the things that make us unique as a country. St. Maarten has a unique place within the Caribbean with its diversity rooted in our own unique Caribbean Culture, it is therefore essential that we strive to conserve our heritage and place this central in our various programs, something which we are currently doing in our National Development Plan.
“It is therefore with great honor and gratitude that I welcome delegates to this very unique and auspicious occasion and grateful to the Ministry of Education, Culture, Youth and Sports for hosting this conference. Likewise I would also like to thank the United Nations and specifically UNESCO for having the confidence in St. Maarten to have such an important occasion, both the meeting on Coastal Fortifications next week and the conference on capacity building for Small Island Nation States being held for the next coming days. I would also like to welcome delegates from the region, including regional heads from Cuba and the UNESCO headquarters in Jamaica and all other delegates for attending this conference,” stated Prime Minister Wescot-Williams.
The Prime Minister concluded by praising and encouraging the stakeholders: institutions and organizations already involved in heritage conservation on St. Maarten, for their work in the field; “I would especially like to give my thanks and express my gratitude to those organizations and individuals who have, at times under difficult odds, worked diligently and selflessly in conserving our Cultural and National Heritage. Without their important work we would be in a very different situation from where we are now. I encourage you to use this conference to indeed build on your capacity and to get encouragement to continue with the work that you are doing,” concluded Prime Minister Wescot-Williams.