UPG Recovery and Regeneration Plan – Sint Maarten (SXM)

Who is UPG?

UPG stands for the Unleashed Potential Group, a foundation incorporated by Raimond Nicodem’s firms. UPG is staffed by Sint Maarten young professionals, who have studied and graduated in The Netherlands.

Recovery & Regeneration Plan – Sint Maarten

Reconstruct and rebuild Sint Maarten in conjunction with 21st century innovative industries after the infliction of hurricane Irma on the island, using the natural resources of wind and sun and the large potential of human resources through focused investments and specialized training, resulting into a modern, prosperous island with proper social care and a serious amount of sustainable jobs


Integral development plan

What started out as an analysis of opportunities and barriers on the island of Sint Maarten, quickly became an integrated development plan. We made contacts in the private sector and UPG was in the process of establishing a local UPG SXM when hurricane Irma struck the island.

Sint Maarten needs a lot of help. Before Irma, things were somewhat moving in the right direction but Irma has dealt a serious blow. It made clear that the island needs to make a big leap forward with a modernized and diversified economy and a strong increase in social welfare.

The Integral Development Plan was completed mid-August 2017 and offered straight to the Prime Minister Mr. William Marlin and the Minister of Finance Mr. Richard Gibson Sr. It was handed over personally thanks to the secretary of the Council of Ministers. UPG’s wants to make sure that it’s clear that we are approaching matters from Sint Maarten perspective.

In addition, we have also been in contact with the Director of Kingdom Relations of The Netherlands. In that conversation, the Director of Kingdom Relations endorsed the need for the developments and changes we outlined. He gave his support on behalf of The Netherlands government, only if this request for assistance was made by the local government of Sint Maarten. This was our vision too.

We also had an appointment scheduled with the Governor of Sint Maarten, his Excellency Mr. Eugene Holiday on September 21st in The Hague. It may be clear that this meeting was not possible due to the aftermath of Hurricane Irma.

What happened right after hurricane Irma?

Current status

After hurricane Irma, the UPG team updated the already offered development plan. We have placed the emphasis on the structural effects Irma inflicted on the island.

This has led to us adjusting certain parts and to us creating a Recovery & Regeneration Plan; a vision of a modern island. This can, in fact, be taken as a basis for the reconstruction and rebuild of Sint Maarten.

In addition, we have had many contacts with the community in Sint Maarten in recent weeks, where we have large networks through our members.

UPG - Before and after Irma


All members of UPG are heavily involved in what’s being done. We have a mutual understanding we accomplish more by working together. Teamwork is essential for overcoming the major complex issues that we are currently dealing with.

This is not an opportunity composition after hurricane Irma. This plan has already been designed to develop Sint Maarten for the 21st century. The organization is professionally laid out and purposely designed to overcome the many opportunities as well as the barriers and roadblocks on Sint Maarten.

All UPG members are working together for a year or more; mutual understanding and team strengths are key to overcoming issues

UPG is not alone; in this endeavor, we are supported by a consortium of large and specialized companies.

Intended cooperation

We have noted that the government of Sint Maarten and the Dutch government are working on a reconstruction and rebuild plan; We note that these two plans will be written from different interests and angles. This will very likely cause friction and may delay developing and executing a reconstruction plan. UPG can certainly play a facilitating role here.

UPG’s core team is a fusion of young, well-trained and professional Sint Maarteners, with broad, professional, Dutch experience and expertise. Because of this, we have a unique position. Our network is firmly anchored in the Sint Maarten community and we have professional networks in the Netherlands and beyond. UPG is right in the middle.

Our plan was already written prior to Irma and reworked based on the infliction of Irma

This integral development plan was already written way before hurricane Irma. Sint Maarten already required a big jump to a modernized and diversified economy and an increase in social wealth.

Hurricane Irma surfaced all major issues our island was already suffering about. Irma made everything extensively clear. Let us use this big lesson and take this second chance.

Irma made obvious how important a serious and professional rebuild is to the prosperity of the island. The island’s vulnerability to hurricanes should also be reduced.

The existing integral plan has been reworked by UPG to cope with the effects of Irma, which makes it to a comprehensive plan, right from the hearts of St. Maarteners to rebuild Sint Maarten by and for Sint Maarteners. It has Sint Maarteners inside .

The economy is going to be hit twice by the effects of hurricane Irma

Many people left the island in the days after the hurricane. Although improved over time, this issue is still present on as we speak.

The people who left the island are typically more wealthy. This causes already a serious and immediate economic drain to the island as tourism is not underway yet

Currently, Sint Maarten is in the 1st phase of recovery: cleaning roads, restoring infrastructure, restoring houses, etc.

As soon the 1st phase is concluded, Sint Maarten will drift into a serious and critical 2nd phase of the effects of the disaster: everybody has a roof over the head again, but the economy is fully stalledNo jobs, no income for the foreseeable future.

Let us take care of avoiding the disastrous effects of phase 2

This is where the National Recovery Plan of UPG can create work, income and prosperity and hope for restoring the island to a better shape it was before hurricane Irma

The structural rebuild comes right after the direct emergency help

Stream 1 – Direct emergency help

  • Shelters
  • Water, food
  • Red Cross
  • Military
  • Security, Safety

Goal: Bring population up and running with direct and immediate needs

Stream 2 – Structural rebuild

  • Do it right from the start
  • No political, media fancy tinted solutions
  • Sustainable to last the next few years and
    to cater for hurricanes which are pending
    each year around

Goal: Learn from the past and rebuild it properly now

2nd half September: Government assigns NRP Committee by decree

The Rebuild & Construction Committee of Sint Maarten has a serious task ahead to compile a comprehensive National Recovery Plan

This task should by no means not be underestimated. The assigned SXM Government Committee effectively operates in between the two streams of an epic devastation: Ahead of the Red Cross and the military: Reporting damage assessments, provide preliminary planning, but still too much occupied for thinking ahead on the reconstruction.

The Committee will produce its Preliminary Report early October (sent to Government in the latter part of October, and its Final Report by ultimately December 2017.

Unfortunately, the final report has never been produced by the NRP Committee, which stalled the recovery process

Assisting Sint Maarten in adding vast knowledge and expertise

As UPG we both bring a lot of structure and content with us. We would like to have helped the Committee and the Government to add on and to complete this very important Recovery Plan and assisting in writing the preliminary report and assisting the Committee in writing the final report, while we are working on the mid-long term.

Unfortunately, UPG has not been further requested by the committee to provide the aforementioned assistance

Analysis of the opportunities before going into detail

Sint Maarten is a very overseeable area

Sint Maarten, a focus area so small that everybody can oversee it, understand it and work on it. Looking at options as well to work with Saint Martin, the French part of Sint Maarten, which is hit equally by hurricane Irma.

A look on the island from a strategic angle shows clearly the potential developments areas

mprove possibilities Sint Maarten

Improve possibilities to bring Sint Maarten into the 21st century

  • Develop the Sanitary Landfill into a profitable recycling plant
  • Upgrade infrastructural conditions, especially the extension of the airport runway from 2,300 meters to 4,000 meters in order to accommodate the a380 Airbus aircrafts which will be used in the near future to replace the Boeing 747 in order to keep the hub & feeder function of Sint Maarten 
  • The internet standards must be upgraded in order to facilitate the modern sustainable  industries, education, and local developments
  • Automatically by using the Sanitary Landfill as recycling plant, will create enough sustainable energy in coordination with wind- and solar energy will resolve the current liability problem of the grid
  • -Without sustainable energy, development is impossible in the 21st century

Stimulate Sint Maarten’s economy

  • Support growth by innovation and sustainability of local businesses through education,  investment and support and facilitating of Sint Maarten entities
  • Strategy to sustain growth
  • Bring financial services into the 21st century
  • Make Sint Maarten an investor paradise in order to attract capital and to prevent a fled of local capital to offshore banking

Improving possibilities to bring Sint Maarten into the 21st century by rebuilding and stimulating Sint Maarten’s economy. This is the intention and focus of the National Recovery Plan

Observing the opportunities and barriers, the opportunities largely overweight the barriers

Develop the many opportunities


  • Some already started by UPG
  • Many opportunities still have to be researched
  • Seek interested parties for future creative and sustainable development

To be integrated

  • Make it an investors paradise for financial services and other innovative entrepreneurs
  • Create a sustainable workforce, suitable for the 21st-century industries

Overcome the few barriers


  • Not enough current information suitable to the execution powers
  • Not making enough use of the possibilities through modern communication (internet, etc.) in order to establish flexible management
  • Developing a sense of national pride in order to create workable solutions

Non-legitimate / Excuses used

  • One cannot blame the Government for all wrongdoings regarding projects
  • Sustainability can only be created by commitment to achieve higher goals in order to be successful

The Government should be the facilitator in order to make projects feasible, and if so, grant them their full support

This recovery project requires a different role of the Government

Controlling well-planned projects is a much easier task for the Sint Maarten Government than being fully involved

Utilizing the human resource power and talents on the island will both stimulate the economy as well as reducing emptiness, idling, and in occupation. It will create jobs and stimulates the labor market.

The only way to pick up effectively is to create an integrated development approach

A sneak preview of the plan shows important elements

Nation building

  • Develop your own possibilities by constant education and commitment in order to achieve perfection
  • If everybody contributes by their own endeavors to create a better Sint Maarten, the sky is the limit
  • As Sint Maarten will be an investors paradise and a sustainable growth created by local entities, foreign investors and a facilitating government support, Sint Maarten will be the envy in the Caribbean and attract even more rich leisure seekers

Improve workforce

  • New sustainable jobs and beyond in innovative companies and educational facilities in order to comply with the demand of the industries in the 21st century
  • Multiplier effect of other new jobs in accordance with the growing development of Sint Maarten, subject to change according to the development of projects

Diversify economy

  • A new perception of the island’s economy
  • Make it a hub and duplication of Silicon Valley-like industries instead of only focusing on leisure and tourism
  • Due to developments in the cruising industry and the dynamics of people from the cruise ships, who are only using the facilities onboard and not staying on the island for more than one day, the tourist industry needs a complete overhaul in order to survive

Green Sustainable Energy

  • Installing in 25 MW of solar energy phases
  • Sint Maarten no longer be dependent on fossil fuel

Dump and garbage processing

  • Develop Sanitary Landfill into a thriving recycling plant delivering energy, recycled products, and space to develop other innovative industries on the property
  • Stimulate separation and collection of garbage, supported by local cooperation and mindset by training and education in environmental issues

Integrated National Recovery & Regeneration Plan – Phases and Activities

Sneak preview of the plan phases. Each phase is further worked out