Working visit of Saba’s Island Council to the Netherlands. | SMN NEWS

SABA:— Last month, the Island Council of Saba took part in a working visit to the Netherlands, engaging in a series of meetings aimed at enhancing governance, fostering cooperation, and advancing various initiatives. The Island Councils of Bonaire and Sint Eustatius were also in attendance. Through these visits, Saba’s commitment to strengthening ties with Dutch counterparts and enhancing the island’s governance was exhibited.
One of the key highlights of the visit was participating in the first phase of the VNG (Association of Netherlands Municipalities) training. Funded by the Ministry of BZK, this training program will continue until 2027, with each island having its own tailor-made program. It will provide valuable insights to the council members and further support and strengthen the councils of the BES islands.
The Island Council also visited the municipality of Zoeterwoude, where they gained valuable insights into the functioning of a small municipal council. This visit also highlighted the importance of maintaining close contact with community members and provided a platform for discussing best practices. The exchange emphasized increasing cooperation between Zoeterwoude and the BES islands, which share experiences similar to those of small municipalities when enhancing governance and community engagement.
Later that week, the council met with representatives from the Ministry of Finance to discuss proposed tax plans. This meeting was crucial for clarifying upcoming policies and their implications for island residents. Representatives from all three BES islands were present at the meeting. During the meeting, the islands were critical of the proposed tax changes and agreed that this was an area where it was important to respond collectively.
With the effects of climate change being felt with warmer temperatures and a notably active hurricane season this year, the Island Council also visited KNMI (Royal Netherlands Meteorological Institute), with their colleagues from St. Eustatius and Bonaire, where presentations were given on their operations. This included explanations on how the KNMI tracks weather and monitors earthquakes, as well as information on the equipment present on the islands to monitor earthquakes and (dormant) volcanoes in the Caribbean Netherlands.
Additionally, the Council members had an introductory meeting with ProDemos, an organization that is active throughout The Netherlands, which aims to teach young people about how government works. This is done in collaboration with the schools, but they also endeavor to improve the understanding of the democratic process throughout society in general.
During the BES summit, the Island Councils discussed the results from the previous work conference which was held earlier this year and future plans for cooperation. In this meeting, the chairmanship of The BES Summit was also handed over to Saba’s Central Committee Chairwoman, Elsa Peterson, until June 2025.
Towards the end of the trip, a visit to Ameland brought together officials and civil servants from the three islands with officials from the Wadden Islands. This is the second year that the islands were hosted by King’s Commissioner of Fryslan, Mr. Arno Brok. During their visit to Ameland, they were able to tour ongoing projects which aim to improve livability. Several presentations were also given where various topics such as sustainability and energy, nature, education, and music in the classroom were discussed.
The Island Council's productive visit to the Netherlands marks further progress in the continuous efforts to enhance governing capabilities and foster collaboration, while securing the well-being of its residents.

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