Curaçao receives European Union funding for water treatment

WILLEMSTAD - On March 26th, Minister Charles Cooper convened with Mr. Ahab Downer of 'Expertise France' along with his team and representatives of the Government of Curaçao regarding the request made by Curaçao to receive funding from the European Union for sustainable water management. 

Mr. Ahab Downer serves as the Director of the "Green Overseas" (GO) program. This program, funded by the European Union and implemented by 'Expertise France,' aims to support effective and significant efforts towards resilience against climate change and energy transition in 25 countries and overseas territories of the European Union and the United Kingdom. Prior to assuming leadership of the GO Program, Mr. Ahab Downer had the privilege of leading similarly ambitious and impactful endeavors guided by science in sustainable development, as well as initiatives for the conservation of wildlife and wilderness areas in a variety of regions including the Middle East, Central and South Africa, Southeast Asia, and the South Pacific. 

Due to deficient water management in recent decades in Curaçao, various types of untreated wastewater are discharged into natural ecosystems. This contaminates the quality of both groundwater and surface water, leading to deterioration of beach water quality, while the quality of coral ecosystems and biodiversity continues to decline. There is insufficient capacity to treat wastewater efficiently through centralized wastewater treatment plants. The largest treatment plant at Klein Hofje is operating beyond its capacity and requires renovation. 

Other significant issues include the lack of adequate regulations to prevent wastewater discharge into surface waters, and the government's insufficient capital investment to address the problem. Enhancing resilience against climate change through water management and sanitation is the focus of the European Union (EU) and Curaçao partnership post-2020. Recognizing the risks, impacts, and vulnerabilities of climate change on wastewater management, the Government of Curaçao must anticipate and be educated on how to respond to current climate risks and climate change related to wastewater treatment. 

Therefore, the Government of Curaçao requires support from the EU's GO Program to research and provide guidance on possible climate-resilient wastewater treatment technologies in Curaçao. The action involves four components, including: 

an analysis and diagnosis, 

detailed technical descriptions, 

a pilot awareness campaign, and 

a description of the impacts of climate change on wastewater management. 

Present at the meeting on behalf of Expertise France were Mr. Ahab Downer, Mr. Robert Moons, and Mrs. Lina Tode. Representing the Government of Curaçao were Mr. Franklin Gilbert from the Public Works Department and Mrs. Judric Pietersz from the Ministry of General Affairs. Minister Cooper received an overview of Curaçao's request to receive part of the European Union's funding for water management in Curaçao. This concerns the EU's GO program for €18.7 million for 25 Overseas Countries and Territories, of which Curaçao will receive €160,000.