Governor's Address; Governor’s Symposium 2012

PHILIPSBURG, St. Maarten -

In Governance Heritage Matters

Opening Address

By H.E. Governor Eugene B. Holiday Delivered at the

Governor’s Symposium 2012; National Heritage, Historic Cultural and Economic Importance

 

Ladies and Gentlemen,

Good Morning,

It is a great pleasure for me to welcome this distinguished gathering to this symposium with the theme “National Heritage: Historical, Cultural and Economic Importance”. My choice for the topic of this symposium is deliberate and in the next few minutes I shall elaborate on that. First, however, let me acknowledge and thank all the speakers, from overseas and at home, for accepting my invitation to join us and speak at this symposium. And in particular let me bid a very warm welcome to my Guest of Honor and Keynote Speaker for this Symposium, Ms. Alissandra Cummins. Your presence is highly valued.   

Ladies and Gentlemen,

It is of vital importance to increase awareness among the people through information and education about the issues which are relevant for their governance. It is for this reason that I have chosen the topic of this symposium. As inspiration for this symposium I have been guided by the belief that the common future of a country, of a people, is grounded in the understanding and embrace of its past. This past is manifested in the array of cultural legacies passed down from generation to generation. Indeed, a glance into the past invariably reveals who we are today. The land we live on, the structures we use, the foods we eat, the music we play, the language we speak and the very genes we carry have been inherited. In short, in everything we do and are: Heritage Matters. 

As Governor, governance as a practice to advance the well-being of the people of Sint Maarten, is the domain of my activities, and it is my aim to foster and encourage excellence in governance in all its facets. In that respect I view the following diagram of the Institute on Governance as very useful for this symposium. 

 

According to the Institute on Governance (IoG) and I quote: “Governance in a society, at the national or community level, can be depicted as

  • the relationship between [the government, Civil society, the private sector and the Media]
  • in the context of the history, traditions, technology and culture that characterize that society.

Governance determines who has power, who makes decisions, how other players make their voices heard and how account is rendered”. Unquote.

Looking at this diagram we are gathered here today

  • to discuss how decisions, by Government, by Civil Society, by the Private Sector and by the Media as partners has shaped and continue to influence our society and our national heritage; and
  • to identify opportunities for enhancing heritage governance matters.

Taking the debate on economic development versus national heritage preservation on Sint Maarten into account - land and the environment - have been included in the diagram. This debate is an interesting and critical governance issue because its proper resolution holds within it the key to preserving the very character of Sint Maarten and to the sustainability of our society.

I speak of a critical governance issue because the preservation of national heritage on St. Maarten for succeeding generations is, as is the case elsewhere in the world, under pressure and in some cases disappearing. That is a result of our pursuit of not always balanced and sustainable progress and development based on the misconception that development and heritage preservation are mutually exclusive. It is my view that the opposite is true. Namely, the reason for Sint Maarten’s economic success lies in its heritage ranging from its natural beauty, historic features, and the traditions that molded us into an island of friendly people. I am in that regard encouraged by the efforts of government and various persons in our society to preserve, nurture and build on these features. Mayor contributors and Heritage pioneers in this regard include amongst others: Isidore York with his Sint Maarten Rumba, Lasana Sekou with his National Symbols and House of Nehesi, Roland Richardson with his flamboyant paintings and Clara Reyes work on the Ponam dance. At the same time, however, I believe that there are more and substantial untapped tangible and intangible heritage opportunities waiting for investment and development. Investments that would lead to inclusion of our heritage our Sint Maarten’s identity on the world heritage sites list, as an integral part and driver of our socio-economic development.

In keeping with the theme of this symposium it is therefore essential that we reassess our development strategies to marry heritage and economics with the objective of fostering more balanced approaches by recognizing the historic, cultural and economic importance of the legacy of our ancestors. It is with this call for reflection and projection that I organized this symposium. I do so based in the believe that: In governance heritage matters.

At this symposium a variety of regional and national speakers, will speak to you, each from their own perspective, on cultural heritage and its meaning. I hope that these speakers, all with their own Caribbean ties and heritage, will inspire us about the importance of national heritage as a unifying force and as an economic driver for our common future as we continue to build our nation.

As such I look forward to hearing the views of the keynote and featured speakers.

With that I hereby declare this symposium open and wish you an enjoyable and fruitful symposium.

Thank you and God bless you!

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