Wuite suggests: ‘Make climate change an affair of kingdom’

Wuite suggests: ‘Make climate  change an affair of kingdom’

Daphina Misiedjan presents as Jorien Wuite (left) looks on.

THE HAGUE--Should climate change become a matter that needs to be regulated at a kingdom level? That was the main question to a mixed panel of politicians and scientists during last week’s InterExpo congress and trade mission in The Hague.

  Member of the Second Chamber of the Dutch Parliament Jorien Wuite of the Democratic Party D66 made the suggestion to elevate climate affairs to a kingdom level during her introductory remarks ahead of the panel discussion. “We are one kingdom and we are all confronted with climate challenges,” she said.

  The Dutch Caribbean islands are located in the front line of climate change, Wuite said. The islands are confronted with an increased frequency and intensity in hurricanes, heavier rainfall and prolonged periods of drought, and a rising sea level which forms a direct threat.

  In Wuite’s opinion, climate change needs to be placed higher on the political agenda within the Dutch Kingdom. “The urgency to look ahead is great. Make climate change a permanent agenda point of meetings between the prime ministers of the kingdom countries.” Wuite’s motion which called for the latter was recently adopted by the Second Chamber.

  Wuite made her point during a duo presentation with Daphina Misiedjan who teaches human rights and the environment at Rotterdam Erasmus University. Misiedjan explained that the international climate conventions, including the 2016 Paris Climate Accord, don’t apply to the Dutch Caribbean.

  As a result, the six islands don’t have access to the sizeable financing opportunities of, for example the European Union (EU), noted Misiedjan. The Dutch Caribbean islands are associated with the EU through the status of so-called Overseas Countries and Territories (OCTs).

  According to Wuite, it is of great importance that the islands acquire access to funding to mitigate the effects of climate change. “We need more focus on this subject, more dialogue, and we should not wait on the Netherlands to take the initiative,” she said, adding that an increased protection of nature and the environment, and by extension the islands’ residents, was essential.

  During the panel discussion, the issue was put forward to the panel members Member of the St. Maarten Parliament Claudius Buncamper (independent), Member of the Curaçao Parliament Giselle McWilliam (MAN party), Member of the Second Chamber Laura Bromet (GroenLinks), Professor Han Lindenboom of Wageningen University & Research (WUR), as well as Wuite and Misiedjan.

  Member of Parliament (MP) Buncamper didn’t object to the idea of making climate change a kingdom affair, but he emphasised that St. Maarten didn’t have the financial resources to implement measures to mitigate the effects of climate change. “We are not going to stop climate change as small islands, but we do face the immense consequences and we don’t have the money to tackle it.” He said he also didn’t think this issue was a top priority for the Dutch government.

  MP McWilliam agreed that climate change should become a kingdom affair. However, there was one cardinal issue that needed to be discussed first: the great impact of the number one environmental disaster ever witnessed in Curaçao, which is the mess Royal Shell left behind when it departed in 1986. She stressed that this environmental disaster, in particular the asphalt lake, was a responsibility of the Netherlands. “There is not even a start of a climate change agenda in the kingdom,” McWilliam said.

  “We have to do it together. We need each other,” said Lindenboom, who in 2017 drafted a delta plan to rescue the Dutch Caribbean coral reefs. He said an integral programme was needed, complete with financial figures, with focus on sustainable energy and the environment.

  MP Bromet said that for her party, GroenLinks, the climate was a basic human right. She suggested to work closely together in the kingdom while making use of article 37 in the Kingdom Charter, the mutual collaboration article. “We can add climate change to that.”

  MP Wuite said there were different options to accomplish making climate change a kingdom affair. The Charter could be amended to accommodate this, to secure the collaboration between the kingdom partners and related financing in a Kingdom Law, or, as Bromet, suggested, make it happen under the auspices of article 37.


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