PHILIPSBURG:— Prime Minister William Marlin departs from PJIA en route to Brussels for the Association of the Overseas Countries and Territories of the European Union (OCTA) Forum.
This year, St. Maarten will be represented in the OCTA Ministerial Conference and the OCT-EU Forum from February 23rd to the 26th in Brussels, at the Renaissance Brussels Hotel. The delegation will consist of Prime Minister William V. Marlin, Khalilah Peters (DBB), Olivia Lake (BAK), Marc Arnold (BAK) and Carol Voges (Cabinet GebMin).
Held on a yearly basis, the OCT-EU Ministerial Conference, the forum and trilateral meetings set the yearly agenda, which manages the relationship between the Caribbean Overseas Countries and Territories (OCTs) and the European Commission.
As of February 2015, St. Maarten has been the official Regional Authorizing Officer (RAO), for the OCTs. In this role, the RAO is end responsible for the successful programming and implementation of the Caribbean OCTs Caribbean Regional Program 2014-2020.
In order to achieve a successful programming, the RAO, must ensure inclusion from all OCTs and the EU. To ensure a successful programming process, regional workshops, conferences and meeting will be planned throughout 2016.
The first meeting, the Caribbean Regional Workshop and Steering Committee Meeting, will be held on the morning of February 23rd. While all OCT’s are seated at the table, the aim of this meeting will be to advance the programming process and provide a platform for consultation regarding the regional program for the Caribbean OCTs.
Some of the expected outcomes of this meeting are: the finalization of the action plans for the Caribbean OCT regional program and the agreement on governance structure for the program including the size and number of projects to be executed
In the Caribbean Regional Program Trilateral Session, which will be held on the 24th, the selected topics of the 11th EDF Caribbean Regional Program will be further discussed. The Caribbean OCTs selected the topics ‘Sustainable Energy’ (SE) and ‘Marine Biodiversity’ (MBD) as the focal sectors for the regional program, during the regional conference which was held Regional British Virgin Islands BVI last year.
Although SE and MBD are usually seen as separate sectors, together they form the single sector for the Caribbean OCT regional program with the joint objective to build resilience to the effects of climate change and strive towards a low carbon economy.
The Caribbean OCTs recognize the critical role that SE plays in the development process, and the level of energy consumption is widely used as an indicator of economic activity. Recently, the environmental damage and climate impacts caused by the continued use of fossil fuels has come to the forefront. Developing SE and MBD policies, and mainstreaming them into other sectorial development plans and strategies (e.g., tourism, drinking water and wastewater management) is the way forward and it could make a regionally harmonized approach more effective.
The Ministerial Conference will be held on the 25th and the event closes with the OCTA-EU forum, which will be held on the 26th. During this forum, the new global agreement on climate change and the enhancing growth and investment opportunities in the OCTs will be discussed.
Source: St. Martin News Network Prime Minister en Route to OCT-EU Forum.