GREAT BAY, Sint Maarten (DCOMM) – His Excellency Governor Eugene B. Holiday and the Honorable Minister of Education, Culture and Youth Affairs Patricia Lourens - Philip encouraged Caribbean delegates to push the Caribbean forward during UNESCO’s conference closing session on Capacity Building on Heritage Conservation in the Caribbean Small Island Developing Sates (SIDS).
24 members representing SIDS came to a consensus on Tuesday afternoon during the closing of the UNESCO meeting on Capacity Building on Heritage Conservation in the Caribbean with an agenda for follow-up priorities and responsibilities to be delivered during the sequel meeting in St. Vincent & the Grenadines in 2015, during which His Excellency Governor Holiday and Minster Hon. Patricia Lourens-Philip emphasized the importance of “pushing” the Caribbean forward in World Heritage Matters.
“There are challenges we have to overcome and we must continue to position ourselves in the international arena in terms of showing our history and that we can be going forward” said Honorable Governor Holiday during his closing statement as he sat in during the drafting of the agenda.
Among the SIDS representatives were Anguilla, Antigua & Barbuda, Belize, Bahamas, British Virgin Islands, Cayman Islands, Curacao, Dominica, Dominican Republic, Grenada, Jamaica, St. Kitts & Nevis, St. Lucia, St. Maarten, St. Vincent & the Grenadines, Suriname, Trinidad & Tobago and St. Eustatius as an observer.
Honorable Minster of Education, Culture, Youth & Sports, Patricia Lourens-Philip commended each member for accepting their invitation to the UNESCO meeting which was organized by her ministry by the Department of Culture and making measurable progress. “We are convinced that we have a rightful place in the Caribbean History in the English, Dutch, French and Spanish speaking Caribbean and as such we want to say thank you for being here and participating with a lot of passion,” she said.
Himalchuli Gurung, Programme Specials for Culture, UNESCO Kingston Cluster Office for the Caribbean, as well as Victor Marin, CCBP Coordinator, UNESCO Havana Regional Office for Latin America and the Caribbean on behalf of all participants commended Department Head of Culture, Mr. Neville York for his hard work in putting the meeting together and thanked the St. Maarten government for prioritizing the importance of the meeting and making it happen.
The UNESCO and SIDS representatives avidly worked on identifying areas of development, methods of funding and prospective areas of preservation in respects to creating their respective tentative lists, and nomination dossiers for World Heritage Sites while sharing intelligence and creating an informal network/skills bank to create accessibility among themselves when initiating projects or activities that will require the expertise of one or more of the members.
The official opening of the UNESCO meeting took place last Saturday on May 10, 2014 which commenced with a flag inauguration and supporting messages from Honorable Governor Holiday, Honorable Prime Minister Wescot-Williams and Honorable Minister Lourens, as well as Director and Representative, UNESCO Kingston Cluster Office for the Caribbean, Christine Norton, whom all emphasized 2014 being the international year of Small Islands Developing States and the relevance of the work to follow during the conference.
The conference meetings followed with discussion on Caribbean strategies on managing serial heritage sites, a field trip to Fort Amsterdam and supporting historic areas, updates on the Kingston Action Plan, presentations on country experiences in preparing nomination dossiers, group work, and closed with a St. Maarten Declaration on Caribbean Capacity Building Strategy for the Caribbean SIDS.
All members were given a token of appreciation sponsored by the St. Maarten Tourism Office as well as PITCH-IT Foundation, which was presented to the members by Minister Lourens - Philip and Mr. Neville York.