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Advocating for Bonaire's Future at the 4th International SIDS Conference.

From May 25th to 30th, 2024 Davika Bissessar president of Bonaire Human Rights Organization and James Finies leader of PPU participated in the 4th International Conference on Small Island Developing States (SIDS) organized by the United Nations with theme “Charting the Course Toward Resilient Prosperity” held in Antigua and Barbuda. Reflecting on this significant event, which convenes every ten years, we gained valuable insights. This gathering provided a unique opportunity to engage with prominent leaders across the Caribbean region. Our presence served as a platform to shed light on the pressing issues facing our island, Bonaire, particularly in the aftermath of dramatic changes since 10-10-10.
We had the opportunity to reach out and speak and share and update on the Bonaire Case trajectory for the Re-listing of Bonaire on the UN NSGT to many prime ministers, leaders and institutions. To mention a few: Barbados PM Mottley, St Vincent & Grenadines PM Gonsalves, Foreign Minister Saudi Arabia, Dominica PM Skerrit, Antigua UN Ambassador Webson, President of the UN General Assembly Francis, British Virgin Islands Premier Wheatley, Curacao PM Pisas, Aruba PM Croes, Bahamas PM Davis, St Kitts & Nevis FM Douglas and PM Drew, Director of OECS Jules, Secretary General of CARICOM Barnett, CARICOM Reparations Commission Chair Beckles and many other influential leaders.
One of the most alarming concerns highlighted during our interactions was the precipitous decline in the native Bonairean population, now displaced and reduced to a mere 32%. This statistic underscores the urgent need for concerted action from the international community to address the socio-economic challenges and pressures exacerbating this demographic shift. As we reflect on the discussions and exchanges that took place at the SIDS meeting, it is clear that collaborative efforts and advocacy will be pivotal in safeguarding the rights and well-being and to save the Bonairean people from eradication.
The Dutch Ministry BZK took to Antigua former controversial governor Edison Rijna that had to retire as governor because of a corruption tinted environmental scandal, Commissioner Anjelica Cicilia and youth representative Noah Hassan, who all failed to mention the real situations the people of Bonaire are facing.
Despite our efforts to raise awareness, crucial issues such as Bonaire falling below the poverty line were not adequately addressed. It became evident that the reason for the delegation from Bonaire and Saba, including the Saba Governor Johnson and very obvious there was no representation from Sint Eustatius leadership that still maintains their dignity and still don’t have a government since 2018, was to use these subordinated representatives to advocate for support from the United Nations Billion Dollar Sustainable Development Goals (SDG) funds.
The Sustainable Development Goals which number one goal is, no poverty – to end poverty in all its forms everywhere-, these funds aim to provide financial resources for projects addressing poverty, inequality, and environmental sustainability as Bonaire delegation was seemingly instructed by the Dutch BZK not to speak about poverty or other pressing issues that matters for the Bonerians.
As we move forward, with the campaign Bonaire Lives Matter it's essential to continue advocating for the needs of Bonaire and other small island communities, ensuring that they are not overshadowed or misrepresented on the global stage.

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