The Government of Sint Maarten signed the Octa Oceans Declaration and Roadmap in Brussels last week. This declaration highlights common marine priorities amongst OCT's, encourages blue economies and calls for united action for the preservation of oceans and marine wildlife. A commitment that will ensure Sint Maarten contributes to the achievement of SDG14 on a local level.
The conference took place on October 16 and 17 and was chaired by the Prime Minister of Curacao, the Honorable Mr. Eugene Rhuggenaath.
The declaration commits each signatory to strengthen human capacity. Extra capacity to develop legislative frameworks for the conservation and sustainable use of the oceans, the conservation of biodiversity, and for protecting threatened species and the degradation of their habitats.
In addition, the declaration includes measures to identify, monitor and reduce pollution.
Measures, intended for land and sea, and in particular focused on the reducing single-use plastics. Commitments also include reducing eutrophication, mitigate harmful effects of climate change, conserve ecosystems, develop blue skills, and to define a sustainable productive ocean as an objective involving all blue sectors, including fisheries and the valorization of the co-products.
The business community will be engaged to become more active in conserving and sustainably manage the oceans alongside a raise in citizen awareness for healthy and clean oceans.
Moreover, the declaration aims to develop and strengthen regional, European and inter-OCT collaboration through inter alia support, maritime monitoring and the sharing of information, technology and expertise.
The Sint Maarten delegation consisted of two (2) government representatives namely: Ms. Nikima Hickinson, a Senior Policy Advisor at the Department of Interior and Kingdom Relations (BAK) and Ms. Ildiko Gilders, Policy Advisor Nature & Environment, VROMI. The Oceans Declaration was signed by Ms. Hickinson, as proxy on behalf of the Prime Minister of Sint Maarten. During the conference many representatives had the opportunity to share information about their blue economies, new innovations, policy initiatives and the adverse effects of marine pollution; resulting in the overarching consensus that: "all OCT's depend on and are in separately linked by oceans; as such we should be committed to protect and conserve the oceans, collectively."