A delegation of European Union (EU) associated consultants visited Saba this week for meetings with the Public Entity Saba, Saba Electric Company (SEC) and the Saba Conservation Foundation (SCF).
The visit of the consultants of Expertise France from St. Maarten had to do with the Resilience, Sustainable Energy and Marine Biodiversity (RESEMBID) program for the Caribbean of the EU. It concerns a program of 40 million euros for 12 countries and territories in the Caribbean.
Saba is one of the participating territories in this regional program for the next few years. The other countries and territories are Anguilla, Aruba, Bonaire, British Virgin Islands (BVI), Cayman Islands, Curaçao, Montserrat, Saint Barthélemy, St. Eustatius, St. Maarten and the Caicos Islands.
The program has three areas of focus: marine biodiversity, sustainable energy and resilience. Saba will focus on the first two areas. The program aims to support the sustainable human development efforts of the Caribbean Overseas Countries and Territories (OCTs).
Expertise France, which acts as the executive committee, is visiting the 12 countries and territories that are taking part in this program. The RESEMBID team members and sectoral experts are consulting with institutional and other stakeholders that are working to advance national and community development in the areas of resilience, sustainable energy and marine biodiversity.
In the case of Saba, meetings were held on Monday, January 20 with the Public Entity Saba, on Tuesday, January 21 with SEC and on Wednesday, January 22 with the SCF. The meeting with the Public Entity Saba included Commissioner Rolando Wilson, Island Secretary Tim Muller and Head of the Planning Bureau Bobby Zagers and contact person and EU Territorial Authorizing Officer Menno van der Velde. Van der Velde gave a power point presentation in the area of sustainable energy and the Saba Energy Strategy documents that cover 2014 to 2020 and 2020 to 2025.
During the meeting on Monday, the Saba delegation announced that it wants to develop a project proposal that will include the use of drones to protect the marine diversity in the waters surrounding Saba. Surrounding islands such as St. Maarten/Saint Martin, St. Eustatius, Saint Barthélemy and Anguilla will be approached to participate. With these islands’ participation, the area would be enlarged and the surveillance would become more effective. The drones would gather information on activities at sea, including illegal dumping and illegal fisheries, with the objective of protecting the marine biodiversity and resources.
Commissioner Wilson said about the visit of the EU delegation: “I am confident that, after talking to the visiting specialists, Saba will set up some interesting projects in the area of renewable energy and marine biodiversity. Fortunately, we have two competent partners on the island, SEC and SCF, to help us moving forward with this.”
On December 9 and 10, 2019, Wilson and Van der Velde were in Brussels, Belgium, where they attended a workshop on sustainable energy in the OCTs. The workshop was a follow-up to the implementation of the Energy Roadmap, of which Saba is a signatory. During the workshop, Wilson and Van der Velde gave a presentation on Saba’s Energy Strategy and the progress that has been made on the Energy Roadmap.
On December 11 and 12, Wilson and Van der Velde attended a workshop that focused on the EU programs to reinforce the OCTs capacity to enhance the access of OCTs within the EU horizontal programs.