Her Royal Highness Princess Beatrix of the Netherlands pays a visit to Bonaire from November 28th up to and including December 1st, 2018. She visits the island at the invitation of the Foundation National Parks Bonaire (STINAPA Bonaire), a non-governmental organisation that is responsible for the management of the national parks on Bonaire. STINAPA is a member of the Dutch Caribbean Nature Alliance (DCNA) of which Princess Beatrix is the patron.
Princess Beatrix is welcomed at the airport by Deputy Kingdom Representative for Bonaire, St. Eustatius and Saba, Jan Helmond, and the Island Governor of Bonaire, Edison Rijna.
In the morning Princess Beatrix visits the head office of STINAPA. Here, she is given an explanation about the conservation and the protection of the natural parks on Bonaire, i.e. the National Underwater Park Bonaire and the Washington Slagbaai National Park.
Subsequently Princess Beatrix visits, as patron of the Dutch UNICEF Committee, the Strea Briante School. This school is the winner of the first Caribbean UNICEF Child Rights Film Festival. This festival was created to awaken children in the Caribbean Netherlands to their rights in an active and creative way. Princess Beatrix will watch their film together with the children and then engages in a conversation with them.
In the afternoon Princess Beatrix attends the ‘Economy and Nature in balance” symposium. The symposium, organised by DCNA, addresses the field of tension between nature management and conservation and development of tourism. Apart from speeches, a panel discussion will take place. The first day is concluded with a reception in the official residence of Island Governor Rijna.
In the morning Princess Beatrix visits the Washington Slagbaai National Park; the first nature reserve of the then Netherlands Antilles and established in 1969. The park of 5,643 hectares offers a safe living environment to protected indigenous species of Bonaire, e.g. parrots, flamingos, parakeets and iguanas. In addition, the beaches are an important breeding ground for the four types of sea turtles that live in the Caribbean.
After a welcome and tour through the visitors’ centre, the park is visited by off-road vehicle. After the visit the Princess will speak with the rangers, researchers and employees of the Washington Slagbaai National Park.
In the afternoon Princess Beatrix visits Hòfi Kultural; a cultural residents’ initiative that was also supported by the Orange Fund. At Hòfi Kultural residents can meet each other and get to know each other better by practising art together. The Princess speaks with the initiators and visitors of the Hòfi Kultural and unveils a woodcarving.
The visit to STINAPA is concluded with the attendance of the debate of the STINAPA Junior Rangers; the youth programme of the organisation. For approximately 10 years youngsters have been receiving weekly training to learn about the special flora and fauna on the island and the importance of nature management and conservation. They are the nature ambassadors of and for Bonaire.
The Junior Rangers annually organise a debate as part of their training. This year the theme is: ‘Will sustainable development hinder or benefit Bonaire’s economy’. The Princess attends the debate rounds and the closing speech. Afterwards she meets the Junior Rangers, their supervisors and volunteers of the youth programme.