The EU Ambassador and Local Stakeholders Visit the Renovation of the Maria Convent Building.

August 30, 2023


Oranjestad, 28 August 2023 

H.E. Ambassador René Van Nes, Head of the Delegation of the European Union to Guyana, for Suriname and with responsibility for Aruba, Bonaire, Curaçao, Saba, St Barthelemy, St Eustatius and St Maarten, representatives of the Government of Aruba (GoA) and the University of Aruba (UA), visited today the rehabilitation works of the Historic Maria Convent Building in Oranjestad, Aruba. 

The renovation works is being managed by the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP), as part of the Sustainable Island Solutions through Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics (SISSTEM) programme at the University of Aruba (UA), under the initiative of the Government of Aruba (GoA). The visit of the Head of the EU Delegation coincides with an important project’s milestone, the achievement of 50% completion of the rehabilitation works, reached during August 2023. Once the renovation is completed and the facility is furnished, which is expected next year, the building will host 4 multi-functional classrooms for between 25 to 50 students, a library, an auditorium and office space for 25 staff.

Fully funded by the EU, under the 11th European Development Fund (EDF) with 7.3 million Euros, the establishment of the physical education facilities, hard (infrastructure) component of the SISSTEM programme, is being implemented by UNDP in close cooperation with the Aruba Monuments Bureau, to ensure that the historical heritage aspects of the building are considered.

The new SISSTEM faculty seeks to enable the UA to deliver tertiary level educational programmes as well as research in STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Math) subjects. Currently, the academic component of the programme is being implemented by the UA in partnership with Catholic University of Leuven (KU Leuven). The faculty will embody sustainability practices and policies at the academic level, supporting resilience in small island states, while representing an important element in advancing multiple Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) in Aruba, and to serve as an example in the Caribbean. 

As a result of the SISSTEM project, local and Caribbean graduates of secondary education who seek a career in science and technology will no longer be required to access this higher education abroad. They would be able to remain in the region, close to their home and culture while accessing high quality tertiary level STEM education. With the renovated building the UA offer to prospective students will also improve as it will feature enhanced learning conditions and more flexible schedules. Since the Aruban public and private sectors have expressed a demand for more professionals in STEM subjects to develop and implement sustainable development projects, SISSTEM graduates can expect to do well on the local job market as new technologies are introduced, industries emerge, and business opportunities expand.

This intervention is relevant for the 2030 Agenda and contributes to the progressive achievement of several SDGs, including SDG 17 – Revitalizing the global partnership for sustainable development, particularly the targets relating to Technology, Capacity Building, and Multi-Stakeholder Partnerships. It also promotes progress towards SDG 5-Gender Equality in SDG 7 – Affordable and Clean Energy; SDG 11 – Sustainable Cities and Communities; and SDG 4 – Quality Education. These goals also overlap with the SIDS Accelerated Modalities of Action (SAMOA) Pathway, which specifies sustainable development priorities that are specific to the needs of the Small Island States.






ABOUT UNDP: UNDP is the leading United Nations organization fighting to end the injustice of poverty, inequality, protect the environment and to mitigate the effects of climate change. Working with our broad network of experts and partners in 170 countries, we help nations build integrated, lasting solutions for people and planet. Learn more at or follow at @UNDP. 

For further information on the UNDP Trinidad and Tobago’s SISSTEM project and Aruba initiatives, please contact Gladys Gbegnedji at 

For more European Union information, or media interviews please contact: Javin Singh, Delegation of the European Union to Guyana, for Suriname and with responsibility for Aruba, Bonaire, Curaçao, Saba, St Barthelemy, St Eustatius and St Maarten, Press and Information Officer; email: