Working Visit of Saba’s Island Council to the Netherlands

Last month, the Island Council of Saba participated in a working visit to the Netherlands, engaging in a series of meetings aimed at enhancing governance, fostering cooperation, and advancing various initiatives. The Island Councils of Bonaire and Sint Eustatius also attended, demonstrating Saba’s commitment to strengthening ties with Dutch counterparts and improving the island’s governance.

Key Highlights of the Visit

VNG Training Program: One of the key highlights was the participation in the first phase of the VNG (Association of Netherlands Municipalities) training program, funded by the Ministry of BZK. This training, continuing until 2027, offers tailored programs for each island, providing valuable insights to council members and strengthening the councils of the BES islands.

Visit to Zoeterwoude: The Island Council visited the municipality of Zoeterwoude to gain insights into the functioning of a small municipal council. This visit underscored the importance of maintaining close contact with community members and provided a platform for discussing best practices. The exchange emphasized increasing cooperation between Zoeterwoude and the BES islands, which share similar experiences as small municipalities in enhancing governance and community engagement.

Meeting with the Ministry of Finance: The council met with representatives from the Ministry of Finance to discuss proposed tax plans. This meeting was crucial for clarifying upcoming policies and their implications for island residents. Representatives from all three BES islands were present, expressing collective concerns about the proposed tax changes and agreeing on the importance of a unified response.

Visit to KNMI: Given the effects of climate change, including warmer temperatures and a notably active hurricane season, the Island Council visited the Royal Netherlands Meteorological Institute (KNMI) with colleagues from St. Eustatius and Bonaire. Presentations covered KNMI’s operations, weather tracking, earthquake monitoring, and the equipment used on the islands to monitor earthquakes and (dormant) volcanoes in the Caribbean Netherlands.

Meeting with ProDemos: Council members had an introductory meeting with ProDemos, an organization that educates young people about government operations. In collaboration with schools, ProDemos also aims to improve the understanding of the democratic process throughout society.

BES Summit: During the BES summit, the Island Councils discussed the results from a previous work conference held earlier this year and future plans for cooperation. The chairmanship of The BES Summit was handed over to Saba’s Central Committee Chairwoman, Elsa Peterson, until June 2025.

Visit to Ameland: Towards the end of the trip, a visit to Ameland brought together officials and civil servants from the three islands with officials from the Wadden Islands. Hosted for the second year by King’s Commissioner of Fryslan, Mr. Arno Brok, the visit included tours of ongoing projects aimed at improving livability. Presentations covered topics such as sustainability and energy, nature, education, and music in the classroom.

The Island Council’s productive visit to the Netherlands marks further progress in continuous efforts to enhance governing capabilities and foster collaboration, ensuring the well-being of its residents.


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