St. Maarten among participants at climate change conference

POSTED: 10/29/14 6:57 PM

St. Maarten – In an effort to keep abreast of the developments in biodiversity conservation and climate change, St. Maarten sent a four-person delegation to the high-level conference on biodiversity and climate change, held from October 24 to October 26 in Guadeloupe. The delegates chosen to represent St. Maarten at the inter-island conference were head of the department of the Interior and Kingdom Relations Marc Arnold, project coordinator at the department of the Interior and Kingdom Relations Olivia Lake, Senior Policy Advisor Ministry VROMI and NGO representative Claire Hooft-Graafland and director of the Sint Maarten Nature Foundation Tadzio Bervoets.

Presentations and discussions were held regarding St. Maarten’s steps towards biodiversity conservation, particularly with regards to protected areas and zoning, as well as discussions on how to access European Union funding for conservation on the island. A roadmap for future regional and global development was drafted during the three-day conference. The European Commission has different funding opportunities available for regional projects that St. Maarten government or NGOs will pursue. The roadmap will furthermore inspire policies and the long-term ambitions of the national development plan that is currently being worked on by government in close cooperation with the community, NGOs and the business sector.

This conference follows one held in 2008 on Reunion Island under the French Presidency of the European Union. The 2008 conference was held with the goal of better integrating environmental issues and international importance of the natural heritage of the European Outermost Regions (ORs), the Overseas Countries and Territories (OCTs) and their respective geographical regions to position the European Union and its member states as key players in the conventions on biodiversity and climate change. The 9 ORs and the 25 OCTs, which includes St. Maarten, are home to a remarkable, yet threatened, biodiversity, which renders them among international biodiversity hot spots and the European Union and the Member States concerned among mega-diverse entities. Moreover, the location of the ORs and the OCTs gives the European Union the largest maritime domain in the world, scattered over all the oceans.

The ORs and OCTs’ biodiversity represents not only a natural heritage of international importance, but also a key element of the economic, social and cultural potential of these territories. This biodiversity faces major threats such as competition for space, invasive species, and pollution that have caused some species and habitats to disappear. Adding up to those well-documented threats, climate change greatly impacts the ORs and OCTs.

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