POND ISLAND – St. Maarten is among Caribbean overseas countries and territories attending the 11th EDF (European Development Fund) Caribbean OCTs (Overseas Countries and Territories) Regional meeting and workshop, this week.
The OCTs are 25 countries and territories, which have special links with Denmark, France, the Netherlands or the United Kingdom. The meeting is presided over by a representative of St. Maarten, who has been selected Regional Authorizing Officer, and takes place in Bonaire on November 23 and 24.
Earlier discussions between the OCTs and the European Commission (EC) concluded to concentrate the allocation of funds towards sustainable energy and marine biodiversity. This with the objective of building resilience to withstand the effects of climate change and to ensure sustainable economic development in Caribbean OCTs.
The Bonaire meeting comes in the wake of significant progress being made with the 11th EDF Caribbean Regional Programme. The goal of this week’s meeting is to partially complete the programming process and to agree on a draft Action Document.
As a result of the damages and losses sustained with the passing of hurricanes Irma and Maria, the meeting is additionally expected to address the possible redirecting of a portion of the funds of the 11th EDF toward a resilience component. The funds would be redirected from the 40 million euros, previously earmarked for sustainable energy and marine biodiversity solely.
The main challenges facing Caribbean OCTs include increased vulnerability and risk to natural disasters, unstable energy consumption patterns, food security, poorly planned coastal development and weak governance capacity. These in turn lead to challenges to effectively manage marine biodiversity as a tool for climate change revision and mitigation.
Caribbean OCTs depend on the tropical climate for tourism, agriculture and fisheries. Creating island communities that are more competitive and resilient is thus essential for their survival with a healthy eco system considered key to this resilience.
The small size of OCTs and their relative isolation directly affects the price of commodities and goods, waste and waste water management as well as transportation within the region.