Protocol: (students from Saba, St. Eustatius, St. Martin and Sint Maarten, staff of the Department of Youth Affairs, representatives from the Ministry of Education, Culture, Youth & Sports, ladies and gentlemen),
I would like to welcome you all to Sint Maarten, and also to welcome our SXM youth to this very important Round Table Conference. Today is a very important and historic day.
As the theme says, "Youth – The Key to Social Enhancement;" it means that you have the opportunity today to make a difference. You have the opportunity to formulate a vision which can later be translated into policies.
Therefore Youth participation is what this conference is about and we are essentially trying to encourage and enable you to participate fully in society and give you a say in shaping the different policies that will affect you. I am looking forward to what you will come up with regarding the issues today that impact you as young people.
From the governments perspective investing in youth is a prerequisite for progress and the future of this country therefore we have asked you to come together to accumulate your vision, ideas, views and present that to the policy-makers.
We've long known it takes an entire village to raise a child. And it takes a whole community to support a young person to reach adulthood with success.
As adults, as politicians, as professionals, we have our role and responsibilities. Achieving successful transitions for our young people needs a whole community response.
What is discussed during the next two days will result in a plan to be reviewed by the political and governmental establishments and implemented on your behalf where possible.
My second duty today is to congratulate the organizers of this round table conference, not only for their work in recent months but also for their vision. They have managed to bring together under one roof more than 300 young people from diverse backgrounds to come together to conduct these discussions that affect you and your future.
I will like to assure you that once we receive the end of the day Round Table Conference report, it will be up to us to move forward on your recommendations, but having said this, I would like to wish you all a productive conference discussion and I look forward to the outcome.
I hereby declare this 3rd Youth Round Table Conference open!
Let's now get down to work.
Patricia Lourens-Philip Minister of Education, Culture, Youth and Sports