Managing Director of the Sint Maarten Nature Foundation Tadzio Bervoets Recently Returned from the prestigious IVLP Program, a three-week International Visitor Leadership Exchange Program cantered on Ocean Conservation and Sustainable Use and Management of Marine Resources. The IVLP program is the United States State Department’s Premier Leadership Program designed to expose international Leaders in their field to the work done by their American Counterparts. Participants cannot apply to the program and Bervoets was nominated by the Consul General of the United States to the Dutch Caribbean the Honourable Margaret Hawthorne based on his work in the region.

The theme of the exchange was centred on the sustainable use and management of Ocean Resources and numerous meetings and information exchanges were held with various Governmental, Non-Governmental, and Industry partners all cantered on Marine Conservation and the Blue Economy. Information Exchanges were held with the United States State Department, the Ocean Conservancy, the Department of the Interior, the US Fish and Wildlife Service, Scripps Institute of Oceanography, the Woods Hole Oceanography Institute, the US Fish and Wildlife Service, the National Atmospheric and Oceanographic Administration, the Hart Research Institute, the Smithsonian Museum of Natural History and various other organizations and institutions in the United States. “It was truly an honour to have been nominated by the Consul General and to have been accepted by the State Department to exchange and discuss cooperation on Marine Conservation opportunities for Sint Maarten and the wider Caribbean Region,” commented Bervoets. “In traveling and meeting with various organizations and institutions in Washington D.C; San Diego, California; Corpus Christi, Texas; and Plymouth and Boston, Massachusetts we are now planning close collaboration and support for various conservation initiatives through the Nature Foundation and by extension the island and the region,” concluded Bervoets.

The varoius meetings also gave the opportunity to highlight some of the work the Nature Foundation and the Dutch Caribbean Nature Alliance have been doing with regards to marine conservation on the island and in the Dutch Caribbean, including the management of the Marine Park, the solid waste issues of the Philipsburg Landfill, the conservation of sharks, coral restoration  initisativesand seagrass and wetland monitoring. Bervoets was the only Caribbean Representative amongst conservation leaders from Japan, Spain, Nigeria, Vietnam, Thailand, Sierra Leone, China, Peru, Argentina, Mexico, Jordan, Tunisia, Egypt and the Philippines.