Special Envoy Rijna visits St. Eustatius and Saba

Rijna (right upper hand corner) during his meeting with the Executive Council and other Government Representatives in St. Eustatius. Photo: Statia Government

THE BOTTOM/ORANJESTAD – Former Bonaire Island governor Edison Rijna has paid a visit this week to both St. Eustatius and Saba on Monday, May 29 in his new role as Special Envoy for the Caribbean Netherlands for the European Union (EU) and United Nations (UN) funds. Rijna served nine years as Island Governor of Bonaire when he assumed his new role in April this year.

With his appointment as special envoy, he will work on better access to funds from the EU and the UN for the islands of the Caribbean Netherlands (Bonaire, Saba and Sint Eustatius). To this end, he will maintain contacts with the European Commission in Brussels and the region and UN-affiliated organizations relevant to the Caribbean Netherlands and identify promising projects.

In addition, as Special Envoy for Economic Relations with Latin America, he will lead inbound and outbound economic missions to and from surrounding Central and South American countries. The aim of these missions is to provide companies and other parties from the three Caribbean Netherlands islands with better access to surrounding markets and to interest companies and parties from surrounding countries in investing in and trading with the islands of the Caribbean Netherlands. A larger trade and investment volume contributes to the strengthening of the island economies.


Rijna and his advisor Bianca Peters visited the two smaller islands to explain the new role and to prepare future collaboration. They see opportunities in EU’s Green Deal, Global Gateways and in the Social Domain. For Saba investments in nature and environment, renewable energy, renovation of the airport could be interesting cases. The processes to apply for EU funding are sometimes difficult and hard to know for individual islands when subsidies or funds might apply. With help of the special envoy, this might be improved. It is notable that the French islands in the Caribbean have been able to find substantial EU funding last few years.

During his visit Rijna spoke to the respectively Governor Johnson and Government Commissioner, Rijna and to various other parties on the island.

Exact plans

The special envoy will present his exacts plans in July 2023.  It is important to note that not only the Public Entities can apply for funding, but also citizens, NGO’s and businesses. More information will be shared later. Rijna will visit the three Caribbean Netherlands islands, will have meetings in Brussels and The Hague and will go to UN agencies in New York before he presents his plans.

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