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Saba participated in the 20th Overseas Countries and Territories and European Union Forum

During the week of February 26th - February 29th, Commissioner Eviton Heyliger and Policy Advisor and EU Focal Point, Courtney Hassell travelled to Brussels to attend the 20th OCTs-EU Forum. The forum takes place annually and is the highest-level instance of dialogue that brings together representatives from the OCTs, Members States and European Commission, at a political level.

Leading up to the forum, the Saba Delegation met with the Directorate General for International Partnerships to discuss progress with on-going programmes that are being financed with European Union funding. One such programme is the Territorial Multiannual Indicative Programme (MIP) that is financing sustainable and resilient energy on Saba and will contribute to the implementation of the third phase of renewable energy.

The delegation also participated in workshops concerning the possibilities for regional and intraregional cooperation and attended the Overseas Countries and Territories Association (OCTA) Ministerial Conference. All 13 OCTs were represented during the Ministerial Conference where OCTA’s new strategic course was discussed and adopted, amongst other items.  

The forum itself was held on February 29th.  Several keynote speeches and political statements were made throughout the day on various topics such as regional partnerships and integration, youth engagement and culture. Commissioner Heyliger had the opportunity to speak on the topic of culture. During his speech, the Commissioner spoke about the inauguration of the new Culture Department that is working to preserve Saba’s diverse cultural heritage and instill Saban Pride among residents.  Further to this, he spoke about the vision for culture on Saba and the importance of preserving and celebrating our identity. The speech was concluded by stating that Saba eagerly awaits future collaborations and funding opportunities that may arise through the forum.

The OCTs were also afforded the opportunity to engage with Jutta Urpilainen, European Commissioner for International partnerships, in trilateral sessions. The Dutch OCTs, alongside the member state representative, Alexandra van Huffelen and Special Envoy for EU Funding, Edison Rijna, had a productive meeting where multiple topics were discussed, including the importance of investing in youth, having easier access to funds, renewable energy initiatives and the support provided by the office of the Envoy, among others. 

Commissioner Heyliger stated it was a successful week of meetings. “Saba’s participation at the 20th OCTS-EU Forum showcases our unwavering dedication to enhancing the strategic partnership between the European Union and our island as an Overseas Country and Territory. Through constructive dialogue and engagement, we are fostering meaningful collaborations and working towards having access to more funding opportunities that will move Saba towards continued growth and prosperity.”

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