Acting Representative of the Government of Curaçao to the European Union for the past two years and a member of OCTA’s Executive Committee, Ann Philipps authors below an article of her vision for the future of her island.
“ One of my predecessors stood at the cradle of OCTA at the beginning of this century. The theme of Curaçao’s OCTA chairmanship was ‘building strategic partnerships for sustainable development’. This theme ties in nicely with what from my point of view could be a vision for the future of the island. I have the habit of capturing ideas in the titles of books. When I envision the future of Curaçao, Russell Shorto’s book, ‘The Island at the Center of the World’ comes to mind. In this book Shorto traces the origins of Manhattan and uncovers the ideological building blocks of the United States of America; among other things: tolerance, freedom and multi-culturalism.
I see Curaçao as ‘going international’: focusing on the wider world by forging strong partnerships with its immediate surroundings and with countries and regions farther afield. So to speak, becoming an international center for exchanges between and among peoples from all over the world. The necessary elements to achieve this vision are already there: Curaçao has a multi-ethnic and multi-cultural populace, several languages are spoken on the island and it is strategically located between the trading routes of East and West, North and South.
But there are also challenges, that the island needs to address in order to realize this vision: improving the quality of its human capital through an internationally-oriented educational system and advancing on the road to becoming a more digitalized society.
In my view being a member of OCTA constitutes one of Curacao’s assets in realizing this vision. Although representing a mere one and a half million people on this planet OCTA, despite its limited thrust, in spanning the globe, can nonetheless be further developed into an international player. OCTs in their own right are geographical, ecological and cultural gems, that through their links with the European Union have access to a market of 500 million people. A smarter, more efficient OCTA, can overwhelmingly reap the fruits of this unique access.
In going forward one of the areas in which OCTA should bring its weight to bear in a more focused manner is in heavily promoting education and training, in particular capacity-building in entrepreneurship, the arts culture and sports among the youth of the Overseas Countries and Territories. Articles 32, 33 and 36 of Part Two of the Overseas Association Decision (OAD) covering respectively youth, education and cultural exchange between the Union and the OCTs, offer the mechanisms through which these areas can contribute to the much-needed social mobility of the youth in the OCTs.
When looking at the current state of human relations on our planet I believe that the most needed commodity, that regrettably is now in short supply, is empathic and respectful dialogue. As a member of the Executive Committee of OCTA I have sought during the past two years to contribute, however modestly, to increasing its stock. “
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