Patrice underscores the importance of strong global governance in face of climate change

Minister Plenipotentiary Patrice Gumbs and United Nations Secretary General Antonio Guterres


PHILIPSBURG, Sint Maarten — The Kingdom of the Netherlands signals its commitment to the development of Small Island Developing States (SIDS) by sending a significant delegation to the 4th United Nations Conference on SIDS. Under the overarching theme of “Charting the Course Toward Resilient Prosperity,” the conference aims to evaluate the progress of SIDS in achieving sustainable development, including the 2030 Agenda and its Sustainable Development Goals.

For the first time, the Dutch delegation includes representatives not only from the four constituent countries—Aruba, Curaçao, Sint Maarten, and the Netherlands—but also from the three special municipalities of Bonaire, Saba, and Sint Eustatius. Leading the Sint Maarten delegation is Minister Plenipotentiary Patrice Gumbs, supported by Mr. Stuart Johnson, Chief of Staff of the Cabinet of the Prime Minister; Mr. Cameron Wathey, Interim Director of the Department of Foreign Relations; and Ms. Jessica Rogers, Senior Policy Advisor in the Department of Economy, Transportation, and Telecommunications.

In the Kingdom delegation’s meeting with the UN Secretary-General António Guterres, Minister Gumbs emphasized the critical need for justice in international relations and finance, especially for small islands. He commended Secretary-General Guterres for his dedication to addressing the unique challenges faced by SIDS, particularly in the context of climate change and their limited human and financial resources.

Minister Gumbs highlighted the necessity for effective global governance that acknowledges the distinct status of non-independent countries like Sint Maarten. “Hurricanes don’t care if you are independent or not,” Gumbs remarked. “While we are part of the Kingdom, we share historical, economic, cultural, and environmental realities with the Caribbean. Our vulnerability to environmental threats, as demonstrated by the devastation of Hurricane Irma in 2017, necessitates our inclusion in global discussions on resilience and sustainable development.”

Gumbs pointed out that despite the recovery funds provided by the Netherlands post-Irma, the complexities of recovery, politicization, and limited local expertise in international financial mechanisms posed significant challenges. He stressed that the international community might overlook these developmental disparities due to Sint Maarten’s constitutional status within the Kingdom. “It is vital for us as Sint Maarteners to tell our story and contribute to the advocacy efforts of our regional leaders,” Gumbs stated.

The 4th United Nations Conference on SIDS represents a pivotal platform for Sint Maarten to voice its experiences and collaborate with international partners to build a resilient and sustainable future.

Held once every 10 years, the Conference will culminate in leaders of the 193 countries in the UN endorsing the Antigua and Barbuda Agenda for SIDS (ABAS) which will outline the international community’s plan of approach to address the needs of small islands.