Voges asks Europe to consider St. Maarten’s vulnerabilities

POSTED: 10/3/12 1:04 PM

St. Maarten – During the Overseas Countries and Territories of the European Union conference held last week in Greenland Minister Plenipotentiary Mathias Voges stressed St. Maarten’s role as a new country within the constellation and the steps government is taking to ensure adequate sustainable development.

Voges said that St. Maarten wasted no time to form a national coordination-working group charged with the task of managing the country’s relations with the European Union. “It is our intention to structurally mainstream EU relations throughout the government organization by establishing sub- workgroups consisting of representatives from the various Ministries.”

Voges also stressed St. Maarten’s social and economic vulnerabilities. “We 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.”

“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,” Minister Voges said.
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. 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.

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