SINT MAARTEN (PELICAN) - Prime Minister Leona Romeo-Marlin on Sunday afternoon attended the Build Back Better Week Sint Maarten (SXM) final presentations and award ceremony of the “Do-Thank” that took place at Simpson Bay Resort.
In the Do-Tank, a hackathon-like event, 20 teams competed for the winning idea for a more resilient future for Sint Maarten. The teams started working on their ideas on Saturday morning and presented them Sunday afternoon in short three-minute pitches. Judges determined the winner(s), who later on Sunday received the awards from the Prime Minister.
The Centre of Excellence (COE) for the Sustainable Development of Small Island States (SIDS) is a United Nations Development Programme initiative based in Aruba, and the aforementioned assisted with the co-organization of the Build Back Better Week SXM along with Ernst Young (EY) Caribbean, and Dutch Caribbean Chambers of Commerce.
Below is the Prime Minister’s Address at the “Build Back Better” ceremony on Sunday:
“Good afternoon ladies and gentlemen, it is a great privilege to be here with each of you on the close of this special event. Upon receipt of the invitation to attend and speak at this occasion I gladly accepted, especially given our current situation.
“On behalf of the government and the people of St. Maarten, I would like to express sincere gratitude to the UNDP and the Centre of Excellence (COE) for the Sustainable Development of Small Island Development States for taking this vital and important initiative to bring together the great minds we have in this room with the goal of contributing towards the recovery of our beautiful Sint Maarten.
“Considering our current situation, there could not have been a better-chosen theme than the “Build Back Better”. With such a theme as your guide for the held discussions and the chosen topics that included; sustainable tourism, renewable energy and fostering entrepreneurship, one can expect in the near future for our small island states to realize, improved resilience, increased comparative advantage and increased economic competitiveness.
“Given the challenges of our economies, and more so the unforeseen occurrences as we have experienced seven months ago; the organizing of a platform of this magnitude where great minds can converge and exchange ideas and best practices is a key element towards the Sustainable Development of our Small Island States. Hence, I trust that all the knowledge gained and shared over the past couple days will be put into practice so that in the long run we can excel.
“With the tremendous help of the World Bank and the financial support of the Netherlands, the Government of Sint Maarten is currently preparing a National Recovery and Resilience Plan. This plan will lay out an ambitious vision on how to have Sint Maarten “build back better”.
“The ideas for projects and the dreams for a stronger Sint Maarten that you have discussed over the past days can be part of this very important plan. In the coming weeks and months, the Government of Sint Maarten and the World Bank will reach out to citizens and businesses to contribute to the National Recovery and Resilience Plan. I for one hope very much that many of you will be able to share your views on how to reshape the future of our beloved island.
“Meanwhile, as we are talking about rebuilding our country, we must not forget that we are just a few months away from the start of yet another hurricane season. We hope and pray for the best, but we need to prepare for the worst. I want to assure all of you that the Government is doing everything in its power to make these necessary preparations.
“It is for this reason that the Government of Sint Maarten has convinced the Netherlands and the World Bank to start with a number of early priority projects. These projects will commence as soon as the Netherlands has formally established the Trust Fund for the recovery of Sint Maarten. The early priority projects will serve to rebuild our critical public buildings, to collect the remaining hurricane debris, and to equip our emergency services for whatever is coming at us.
“Now, from a more domestic front. With the opening of The SXM Do-Tank trade mission which will be opening tomorrow, again, I welcome all efforts to stimulate the business sector, reignite the economy and create new opportunities towards shaping our society and St. Maarten on a whole. I trust and hope that entrepreneurs on Sint Maarten will take advantage of this opportunity and participate in this event and create network with new external contacts. This of course will enable you to build capacity, spread your marketing scope, grow your individual businesses and inevitably rebuild the economy Sint Maarten.
“Once again, I thank you the organizers, visiting participants and stakeholders alike for this invitation to be part of this wonderful initiative and choosing Sint Maarten as the designated location. Thank you.”