ORANJESTAD/THE HAGUE–St. Maarten’s reconstruction after Hurricane Irma provides an opportunity for the country to implement the sustainable development goals (SDGs) of the United Nations (UN). This became clear at the Inter-Parliamentary Kingdom Consultation IPKO held in Aruba earlier this week.
The St. Maarten Government and the UN Economic Committee for Latin America and the Caribbean (ECLAC) will be developing a strategy for the implementation of a number of SDGs in the first quarter of 2018, announced St. Maarten Member of Parliament (MP) Perry Geerlings of the Democratic Party (DP) during a plenary meeting of the IPKO on Wednesday.
The agreements list, signed by the delegation leaders of the four Parliaments on Thursday, specifically mentioned the drafting of this implementation strategy together with ECLAC. It was also stated that the recovery phase after the hurricane provided an opportunity to make progress on the implementation of the SDGs, which will bring added prosperity for the people in St. Maarten. Geerlings said during the IPKO meeting that this was an opportunity to grasp with both hands.
The focus in the strategic plan is on the implementation of nine of the 17 SDGs set by the UN for 2030.
The areas of focus for St. Maarten are achieving better food security and improving nutrition (SDG 2 “zero hunger”), the empowerment of girls and women (SDG 5 “gender equality”), ensuring sustainable management of water and sanitation (SDG 6 “clean water and sanitation”), affordable green energy (SDG 7 “affordable clean energy”), productive employment for growth (SDG 8 “decent work and economic growth”), sustainable and smart green housing (SDG 11 “sustainable cities and communities”) and actions to combat climate change and its impacts (SDG 13 “climate action”).
SDG 12, “responsible consumption and production,” and SDG 16, “peace, justice and strong institutions,” have also been indicated areas of focus for St. Maarten in the agreements list that was signed at the end of the three-day IPKO in Aruba. The other countries within the Kingdom have also specified a number of SDGs for implementation in their own countries.
Another important point in the agreements list was the pledge by the Dutch delegation members that they would request their government in the Netherlands to support the Dutch Caribbean countries in the implementation of the SDGs and sustainable economic development.
The support that will be requested from the Dutch Government is three-fold: supplying experts (“wetgevingsjuristen”) to help draft SDG-related legislation for the islands, transfer of knowhow and execution of pilots in the area of SDGs in the Dutch Caribbean.
The Parliamentary delegations agreed to actively inform each other about the state of affairs of the implementation of the SDGs and the execution of the Paris Climate Change Accord. IPKO’s SDG People work group and the SDG Planet/Prosperity work group will report back prior to the next IPKO, which will take place in The Hague from May 29 to June 1.
It was decided at this week’s IPKO in Aruba that the work group Integrity of Government would remain in place. Several other work groups have been eliminated. Aside from the reports of the two SDG work groups and a report of the work group Integrity of Government, the next IPKO will have the situation in Venezuela, human rights in the justice sector and the Dispute Regulation on its agenda.
IPKO Chairman and Chairman of the Aruba Parliament Ady Thijsen spoke of a “successful” IPKO during Thursday’s press conference. “I am happy. It was a special IPKO considering the new composition of some Parliaments. It was definitely worth it to have the IPKO. We are, after all, one Kingdom and we all want to work together in the best interest of our peoples,” he said.
Dutch delegation leader Alexander Pechtold thanked Aruba for its warm hospitality and expressed satisfaction about the content of the IPKO meetings. “We discussed trivial matters such as the consequences of Hurricane Irma and St. Maarten’s recovery, and the urgent situation in Venezuela. It shows that as Members of Parliament we don’t only look at the long term, but we can act on current issues. We had talks in an open atmosphere, being critical where necessary and keeping the value of the Kingdom and that of our people in mind.”
St. Maarten delegation leader Perry Geerlings spoke of a “special IPKO.” He said it was an honour to represent his country as delegation leader, as Chairperson of the St. Maarten Parliament Sarah Wescot-Williams had decided to stay home due to the formation of a new interim government.
Geerlings, who gave an elaborate presentation about the consequences of Hurricane Irma and St. Maarten’s recovery, said it would be a big challenge to rebuild the island. “But I am hopeful, and I feel strengthened by the many positive reactions of my colleagues of the other Parliaments,” he said, thanking the Netherlands, Aruba and Curaçao for the support they had offered after the hurricane.