St. Maarten coordinator for OCT-UPT cooperation

POSTED: 05/2/12 11:56 AM

GREAT BAY/ WILLEMSTAD – St. Maarten has been charged with coordinating the cooperation between overseas countries and territories (OCTs) and ultra-peripheral territories (UPTs) in the Caribbean. The decision was taken last Thursday at a meeting of political representatives of ten Caribbean OCTs and UPTs in Curacao.

Prime Minister Sarah Wescot-Williams attended the meeting for St. Maarten. The participants signed an agreement for the establishment of a regional OCT Council. Its task will be to work on a joint agenda for sustainable development. Setting a Caribbean agenda for the new European OCT-agreement that is scheduled to go into effect on January 1 2014, is a second task for this council. It further aims to enhance the relationship of the Caribbean OCT’s with the European Union and to ensure that its needs and interests are incorporated.
All participants embraced the concept of sustainable development as their starting point. Cooperation within different constitutional frameworks, transportation and logistics, capacity building and sharing, waste management, climate change, renewable energy, disaster management, strategic development within a sustainable framework within small countries or territories, the relationship with the EU, sustainable leadership in the Caribbean and the development of public-private partnerships are areas the council will look into.

“The presentation on sustainable development early in the day set the tone for the many topics tabled later in the meeting, as these are all interconnected,” Wescot-Willeams stated stated in a press release issued by her office.

For each topic specific working groups will present a working plan by September 1. St. Maarten will chair the constitutional cooperation working group and support disaster management and sustainable development leadership in the Caribbean.

“The choice for St. Maarten to chair the cooperation between OCTs and UPTs was a logical one given the fact that our consists of two countries; we have a vested interest in most of the other topics as well and will provide input to arrive at joint positions on these matters,” thePM said. The COCT Council will meet again on September 23 prior to the next EU-OCT Forum. Curacao was elected as chair for the Caribbean OCT’s Council, the Cayman Islands as Vice Chair; the British Virgin Islands will take care of the council’s secretariat.

It was reccomended during the meeting to have St. Maarten serve as vice chair for 2012/13 and if this is accepted by the OCTA the chairmanship the following year will rest with St. Maarten.

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