Ombudsman attends International Ombudsman Conference in Rome
GREAT BAY, The Ombudsman of Sint Maarten, Gwendolien Mossel, recently attended an International Ombudsman Conference, which was held from 21-22 September, 2023 in Rome, Italy. The theme of the conference was: ‘The role of Ombudsman in the world: between reality and possibility’. The conference was organized jointly by the Lazio Region, the Lazio Regional Council and the Conference of Legislative Assemblies of the Italian Regions and Autonomous Provinces. Over 250 ombudspersons, and accompanying staff, from all over the globe were in attendance. The main objective of the conference was to promote international collaboration and the exchange of good practices among Ombudspersons from all over the world, in order to protect citizens rights and ensure transparent and fair governance. The presentations and ensuing discussions during the conference centered around four main topics, namely: The Ombudsman; bridge between citizens and local authorities, digital transformation, human rights in global crises, and the right to health.
Ms. Mossel’s contribution during the conference was under the topic of human rights in global crises. Specifically, she presented on the subject of climate change. She explained that over the last decade, atmospheric conditions proved favorable for hurricanes to develop or intensify, resulting in the complete collapse of economies. For Sint Maarten, Hurricanes Irma and Maria in 2017 were highlighted in this regard. These monster storms, it is claimed, are a direct result of climate change and are forecasted to become more prevalent in the future. One of the most vulnerable regions is the Caribbean, however, the region is least responsible for the climate change crisis, the industrialized countries are. Nevertheless, the Caribbean can do very little to change the consequences of same.
She explained further that when she took office in 2019, two years after the mentioned hurricanes, her office had the task of facing issues of uncertainty within the community about the recovery process, a major challenge being home/roof repair. A report entitled, “Home Repair. A Revelation of a Social Crisis” was drafted as a result of an outreach project.
Ms. Mossel concluded her presentation by echoing the call of the United Nations Conference on Trade and Development (UNCTAD), by imploring the international community to work hard to help small island nations build resilience as the threat of destruction expands and the cost of seasonal storms becomes increasingly devastating for Small Island Developing States. Future disasters could worsen humanitarian crises and impair economic recovery.
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