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OECS Showcases Strong Participation Regional in Saint Martin

OECS Showcases Strong Participation at the 17th Regional Conference on Cooperation in Saint Martin

By Danny Moonie Communications / Knowledge Management Specialist, Organisation of Eastern Caribbean States

May 2, 2024 — From April 23 to 25, 2024, the Organisation of Eastern Caribbean States (OECS) actively participated in the 17th Regional Conference on Cooperation, hosted in Saint Martin. The event, organised by the French Ministry for the Outermost Regions in coordination with the Collectivité de Saint Martin, aimed to bring together major stakeholders in the French cooperation network to advance the integration and greater collaboration of the French territories in the Caribbean Region.

This conference hosted several high-level delegates, including Mrs. Marie Guévenoux, the French Minister for Overseas Territories; Rodolfo Sabonge, Director General of the Association of Caribbean States (ACS); and Mr Armstrong Alexis, Deputy Secretary-General of CARICOM. Also present were the Honourable Louis Mussington, President of the Collectivité de Saint-Martin, several ambassadors, local collectivité presidents, elected representatives, and members of parliament of French overseas collectivities.

The OECS was represented by Dr. Didacus Jules, Director General of the OECS; Ms. Nadege Jn Baptiste, Head of Development Cooperation and Resource Mobilization; Mr. Mendy Kilo, Guadeloupe Cooperation Officer to the OECS; Mr. Crispin d’Auvergne, Director of the OECS/IMPACS Program for Climate Change and Disaster Risk Management; and Mr. Simon Delage, French Advisor to the OECS Environmental Sustainability Division.

In his remarks, Dr. Jules highlighted the progress of the integration of French Member States in the OECS but called for deeper collaboration with the French State in the domains that fall under State responsibility. He also addressed the collective approach that could be undertaken in the partnerships that the Caribbean countries have with the European Union with the support of France.

The conference focused on regional integration efforts in four sessions that were to address political integration, security, trade, and culture. Highlights included a side event on climate change cooperation, during which Mr. Crispin d’Auvergne presented the endorsement of the OECS on the Climate Change Adaptation Strategy and Action Plan, along with a preview of the upcoming OECS Mangrove Restoration Project funded by the Agence Française de Développement (AFD) and the French Facility for Global Environment (FFEM). 

Another point of discussion concerned sargassum recovery. Mrs. Sylvie Gustave dit Duflo, a member of Guadeloupe’s Regional Council for the Environment and President of the Board of Directors of the French Biodiversity Office, presented on managing sargassum and its local and international impacts. During the OECS Council of Ministers for Environmental Sustainability (COM:ES) in 2023, the Ministers reached a consensus on specific priorities that align with the six thematic areas of the St. Georges Declaration, SGD 2040, and identified ministerial champions for each. Ms. Gustave dit Duflo was selected to serve as the Champion Minister for biodiversity.

During an executive session with the ACS Director General, Rodolfo Sabonge, Deputy Secretary-General of CARICOM, Mr Armstrong Alexis, and French Minister for Overseas Territories, Mrs. Marie Guévenoux, Dr. Jules advocated for deeper collaboration with France in the area of state responsibility and discussed strengthening partnerships within the EU framework. 

Dr. Jules also spoke on a panel on integrating French territories into the OECS, emphasising the significance of their inclusion and the need for an approach that respects their unique governance structures. He presented a roadmap for the future accession of Saint Martin as an associate member, highlighting the potential benefits of such integration. 

This roadmap followed a statement by Louis Mussington, President of the Collectivity of Saint Martin, marking a significant milestone during the opening ceremony: 

“With no further delay, the Collectivity of Saint-Martin will become an associate member this year.”

At the closing ceremony on April 25, Dr. Jules stated to the gathering: 

“We are seeing an intensifying engagement between the French Associate States and the rest of the Caribbean, but the opportunities far exceed the pace of our engagement. We need to seize this moment and go boldly into the future that our converged geography portends.”

The participation of the OECS at this conference underscores its continued commitment to regional cooperation and integration and sets the scene for further future collaboration that seeks to enhance connectivity, security, and cultural exchange of the Caribbean.


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