European Union (EU) Head of Delegation René van Nes paid an official visit to Saba on January 23 and 24 for meetings, site visits, and signing a 4.1 million euros financing agreement to support Saba’s renewable energy infrastructure.
On Monday, January 23, Ambassador Van Nes, whom EU Delegation Program Manager Kristina Sevastou accompanied, met with a delegation of the Public Entity, which included Island Governor Jonathan Johnson, Interim Island Secretary Henk de Jong and Policy Advisor of the Public Entity Saba Courtney Hassell.
At the end of the meeting, Van Nes and Johnson signed the 4.1 million euros financing agreement as part of the new EU budget support program on sustainable and resilient energy to continue Saba’s renewable energy infrastructure.
After the signing, the EU Delegation had a meeting with the management of the Saba Electric Company (SEC), Director/CEO David Leonce and Managing Director Mark Zagers, and Commissioner Rolando Wilson for a presentation on SEC’s renewable energy projects. SEC is preparing the Phase 3 renewable energy project and is researching the feasibility of wind energy and additional solar energy in combination with more battery storage. This project will enable Saba to advance its long-term vision of 100% sustainable energy and reduce its reliance on fossil fuels for electricity generation by 2025.
In the afternoon, the EU Delegation had a meeting with the Saba Conservation Foundation (SCF) to talk about nature preservation and management of Saba’s National Park and Marine Park and to discuss the Resilience, Sustainable Energy and Marine Biodiversity (RESEMBID) regional program for Caribbean Overseas Countries and Territories (OCTs), which the EU funds. SCF Managing Director Kai Wulf gave the EU Delegation a tour of the Botanical Garden.
On Tuesday, January 24, David Leonce and Mark Zagers of SEC provided a tour of the solar park located next to the airport. The European Development Fund (EDF) financed the solar parks with partial funding from the Dutch Ministry of Economic Affairs and Climate (EZK).
Veronica Zaegers, Overseas Countries and Territories (OCT) Youth Member, who serves as Saba’s youth ambassador in the EU, accompanied the EU Delegation during their visit, attending the meetings and site visits.
Ambassador Van Nes said his first visit to Saba was a “fantastic experience.” He lauded being received with “great warmth.” “I was shown around and told the stories about Saba and its efforts to become a climate-neutral island. It seems like a dream, but it is a dream that Saba is making a reality,” he said.
Van Nes said he was content to have signed the financing agreement with Saba. “The EU has been able to make a small contribution to that with funding the first solar parks and the next project that I signed here, which will make it possible to precede that. With this program, Saba will have 89% of renewable energy by the end of 2025which is a truly remarkable achievement. Saba is a little pearl in the Caribbean, and I can’t wait to come back to visit again and celebrate its successes.”