Frans: There is a limit to physical growth, future developments must be sustainable

former Member of Parliament (MP) Frans Richardson

~ Not every meter of concrete is a sign of progress ~

Leader of the United St. Maarten (US) party MP Frans Richardson says the term “sustainable development” seems to have become a catchphrase amongst current and aspiring decision makers without serious contemplation about what it truly means. “Two million tourists in two years sounds nice to say, but it is detached from reality and definitely not sustainable. We do not have that carrying capacity,” Richardson said.

Sustainable development is a key aspect in the manifesto of the US party now available online via the party’s Facebook page:

“This term is often used but its implementation has until now been seldom pursued. The United St. Maarten Party aims to change this and will spearhead the initiatives to implement sustainable development practices on St. Maarten,” he said.

“Sustainable Development is about long-term vision and planning; it is about meeting the needs of today’s citizens and society without adversely affecting the ability of future generations to meet their own needs. As tourism and tourism related services are the driving force of St. Maarten’s economy, accounting for an estimated 80 percent of the island’s economic activity, sustainable development in St. Maarten, calls for sustainable tourism (main economic pillar).”

“Sustainable tourism refers to tourism which is developed and maintained in such a manner and scale that it remains viable in the long run and does not degrade the social, natural and cultural environment in which it exists to such an extent that it prohibits the successful development of other activities,” he added.

MP Richardson said that in order to really develop sustainably and in doing so successfully diversify St. Maarten’s economy we need to accept a few facts:

–              St. Maarten is only sixteen square miles, there is a limit to the extent of physical growth, a carrying capacity (in the sense of construction).

–              Not every square meter of concrete poured or vegetation cleared is a sign of progress.

–              A limit to physical growth, due to our relatively small landmass, does not mean a limit to economic growth nor does it restrict us to a one-pillar economy. Having said that, St. Maarten’s economy will to a large extent, continue to be dependent on tourism, all the more reason to care for our natural and cultural resources wisely.

The USP believes that the primary responsibility for stimulating sustainable action lies with government. “Sustainable Development must therefore be the core mission of all Government legislation, policies, programs and initiatives. This calls for an integration of comprehensive economic, social and conservation strategies and requires the combined efforts of all of society; citizens, businesses and the government,” MP Richardson said.

He added that upon election to parliament the USP will work towards the sustainable development of the island in the broadest sense of the word through the implementation of appropriate legislation and incentives including but not limited to:

  • Developing and providing for the highest quality education system and services.
  • Integrating sustainable management practices with economic development strategies.
  • Addressing poverty by ensuring development benefits all of society and by stimulating social inclusion and participation.
  • Responsible use and management of Natural Resources.
  • Respect for, appreciation, maintenance, restoration of Cultural Heritage (tangible and intangible).