PM meets with UNDP regional representative

POSTED: 08/8/13 2:13 PM

Blewitt, PM, Arnold“Island full of possibility, but pockets of poverty remain”

St. Maarten – “Like all countries, there are pockets of poverty, there are areas of vulnerability in terms of social cohesion,” Richard Blewitt said of the island yesterday during a press conference at the A C Wathey legislative hall. Yet the island “is a country full of possibilities,” he added. He is the United Nations Development Program (UNDP) resident coordinator for Trinidad and Tobago, Suriname, Curacao, Aruba, and St. Maarten.

Blewitt met with Prime Minister Wescot-Williams and Head of the Department of Interior Affairs and Kingdom Relations Mark Arnold to discuss St. Maarten’s development. It was the first official working visit of the UNDP, Arnolds pointed out.

The trio discussed the strengthening of the relationship between the local government and the UNDP and the planning and progress of a joint project. As well as “taking stock of the inventory of all the relationships St. Maarten has with UN organs” or international institutions, like the ILO, WHO, etc. said Arnold. He mentioned that they also talked about possibilities with other future programs the UNDP would work on with St. Maarten on its national development plan.

The UNDP was established in 1966 to combat global poverty, enhance democracy, and promote human rights. It is a branch organ of the United Nations and has regional offices across the world. The organization helps attract aid to assist countries in their development goals. One of its main principles is helping nations achieve the eight objectives of the UNDP’s Millennium Development Goals, or MDG, by 2015.

These goals are: eradicating extreme hunger and poverty; achieving universal primary education; promoting gender equality and empowering women; reducing child mortality; improving maternal health; combat HIV/Aids, Malaria, and other diseases; ensure environmental sustainability; and develop a global partnership for development.

Blewitt met with a number of government officials in a short time frame since he arrived. “This is a country seeking partnership and inclusion in the world,” he observed. It has relationships already with other UN institutions, such as Unicef, he cited for example. “My visit here is an attempt to examine what are the current relationships and how we can deepen them and broaden in the development of St. Maarten.”

The UNDP rep said he was also quite impressed with St. Maarten’s disaster management capabilities and its disaster management program. “I’ve learned how successfully you’ve built your disaster risk reduction based on the experiences you’ve had with hurricanes,” Blewitt noted.

He also remarked on St. Maarten’s economic model. “Tourism and entrepreneurship are a key strength of the island.” He said St. Maarten was quite resilient compared to other islands in the Caribbean, which are facing major economic problems. “Clearly you need to take credit for that.”

But he urged “the need to retain talent in the country” and “to bring talent back to the country.”

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