Dutch Caribbean at UN Water Congress

Dutch Caribbean at  UN Water Congress

St. Maarten Minister Egbert Doran (left), Aruba Prime Minister Evelyn Wever-Croes (centre) and Aruba Minister Ursell Arends (right) with Dutch Ministers Mark Harbers of Infrastructure and Water Management (second from left) and Liesje Schreinemacher for Foreign Trade and Development Cooperation (second from right) at the UN Water Congress.

NEW YORK--Several Dutch Caribbean islands are attending the Water Congress of the United Nations in New York from March 22-24.

St. Maarten is represented by Minister of Public Housing, Spatial Development, Environment and Infrastructure Egbert Doran. Aruba is represented by Prime Minister Evelyn Wever-Croes and Minister of Transport, Integrity and Nature Ursell Arends. Island Governor Edison Reina is present for Bonaire and Acting Government Commissioner Claudia Toet is there on behalf of St. Eustatius. A delegation from Curaçao is present at the congress as well.

The UN 2023 Water Congress is organised by the Kingdom of the Netherlands and the country Tajikistan. Almost all countries in the world face water challenges, and the Dutch Caribbean islands are no exception. Climate change with the associated rising sea level, the dependency on water production through desalination and waste water management.

In a press release on Wednesday, Prime Minister Wever-Croes said that Aruba was blessed with the WEB water production plant which produces high-quality water through desalination, accessible to all, 24 hours per day. Many other islands in the world don’t have that facility and can only deliver water for a number of hours per day.

At the same time, Aruba is facing major challenges with waste water management, in particular the sewage treatment plant at Bubali. The sewage treatment plant is outdated and does not have sufficient capacity. The capacity will be increased this year and the department that runs the plant privatised. Wever-Croes announced that she would be asking the UN for help with this.

Water is also very important for agriculture. The islands are promoting agriculture as part of efforts to stimulate local food production, but water is needed in this process. Wever-Croes brought forward this point at the congress. She also called on the bigger countries in the world to take the smaller countries and their citizens into consideration and not to let them become the victim of bad water management by the larger countries.

On Tuesday morning, King Willem-Alexander of the Netherlands, who is in New York for the water congress, organised a meeting with the Small Island Developing States (SIDS) to talk about water issues and the challenges of climate change that the SIDS face.

Present were prime ministers and ministers of Aruba, Curaçao, St. Maarten, Bonaire, St. Kitts, Barbados, Jamaica, Tuvalu, Fiji and the Maldives. It was obvious that the SIFDS that were present at this gathering with the King shared many similarities in terms of their size, number of inhabitants and challenges, economically, socially and environmentally.

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