Aruba hosts UN conference for Small Island Developing States

THE HAGUE–Aruba is hosting the Public Private Partnership (PPP) P3a Conference for Small Island Developing States (SIDS), in collaboration with the United Nations (UN) next month. Aruba Prime Minister Mike Eman announced the details at a press briefing in The Hague on Tuesday.

Eman also announced the opening of the Centre of Excellence for Sustainable Solutions SIDS during the same week. The centre will be located in the same building as the Aruba branch of the Dutch innovations and research centre TNO. The conference and the Centre of Excellence are co-funded by the UN and the Dutch Government. Aruba has been working closely with the UN and the Dutch Ministry of Foreign Affairs to make these events a reality.

According to Eman, Aruba was chosen as venue of the conference and centre due to its experience with multiple PPP projects to develop and beautify the island in a sustainable manner, such as the Green Corridor and the Watty Vos Boulevard.

International interest for SIDS has grown, also from the perspective of corporate responsibility and the idea that global challenges such as climate change, poverty and sustainable economic development can be tackled in a more effective way by having governments and the private sector work together, explained Eman.

Being part of the Dutch Kingdom, the six SIDS in the Dutch Kingdom: Aruba, Curaçao, St. Maarten, Bonaire, St. Eustatius and Saba have an added value. Cooperation among the six islands is an important factor. “We have found a new common ground in the Kingdom.” The other Kingdom partners have been invited to the conference.

Kingdom Affairs Advisor Nout van Woudenberg of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs confirmed Eman’s words about the importance of cooperation within the Kingdom and the added value that it has. “It is important for the Kingdom to show its diversity, its strength and cooperation. There is strength in numbers. Aruba serves as a good example of how to give content to this cooperation,” he said.

   Cooperation within the Kingdom provides more opportunities, added Eman. “Every island has its own speciality and strength.” He mentioned the large reef and ocean energy studies in Curaçao and the extensive nature preservation know-how of Bonaire. Aruba has been propagating the greater use of the geographical location of the islands between Europe and Latin America. “These are all a reason for cooperation. We don’t only have historic ties within the Kingdom,” said the Prime Minister.      

Eman reiterated that SIDS mostly face the same challenges such as climate change, the high cost of importing goods, the one-pillar economy based on tourism, transport, preservation of natural resources versus economic development and natural disasters, including hurricanes.

Aruba wants to share the know-how that it has gathered in the past years in sustainable development through the cooperation with Dutch organisations and companies like TNO, Gasunie, Schiphol Airport and the Port of Amsterdam.

By sharing this know-how, also through the Centre of Excellence, Aruba contributes to the development of other SIDS as a Kingdom partner. “This is very interesting information for the other SIDS,” said Eman, who planned to discuss the upcoming conference and its benefits when he meets with leaders of Overseas Countries and Territories (OCTs) in Brussels this week.

The three-day conference, to be held at the Renaissance Conference Centre from March 22-24, will bring together SIDS from all over the world together with world PPP leaders. All 38 SIDS member states of the UN have been invited.

From the Caribbean region these include: Antigua and Barbuda, the Bahamas, Barbados, Cuba, St. Kitts and Nevis, Dominica, St. Lucia, the Dominican Republic, St. Vincent and the Grenadines, Grenada, Haiti, Jamaica and Trinidad and Tobago, as well as Latin American countries like Belize, Guyana and Suriname. Also invited have been far-away UN member states such as Cabo Verde, Fiji, the Maldives, Federated States of Micronesia, Papa New Guinea, Palau, Samoa, the Sychelles and Vanuatu.

According to the UN, the event will provide a platform to strengthen international cooperation, mobilising efforts in pursuit of achieving sustainable development goals. “The conference will provide governments, private companies, financial institutions and knowledge centres the opportunity to showcase and discuss upcoming and ongoing PPP projects that are of mutual interest to participating entities,” it was stated on the conference’s website

Organisers aim for two major outcomes: to bring ideas to reality and to establish the SIDS Global Business Network. This network, a databank, should better link the three SIDS regions and result in a better exchange of experiences and best practices.

The conference will host seven sessions on oceans, infrastructure, sustainable tourism, finance, connectivity (ICT and transport), sustainable agriculture and renewable energy. International PPP projects will be presented for which the developers can seek financing at the conference.

Source: The Daily Herald Aruba hosts UN conference for Small Island Developing States