8:00 AM -
9:00 AM -
Fighting Climate Change and Advancing Equality
Climate change disproportionately affects certain groups including women, the elderly, youth, and indigenous communities. For example, because women are often responsible for caring for others, they may not be able to seek safety before natural disasters. Similarly, the elderly may lack physical mobility or resources to relocate before a storm hits. Indigenous communities, who are often dependent on natural resources for their livelihoods, are particularly vulnerable to disruptions to agriculture. Recent attention on young climate activists also shows the burden placed upon the next generation to protect a future already impacted by a warming planet. For all these groups, fighting climate change is about more than just reducing carbon emissions – it is about correcting the systemic inequalities that have put them on the frontlines of climate change in the first place. In this plenary session, speakers will identify opportunities to support these vulnerable populations while offering insight into how to reshape the climate change conversation to focus on principles like equality, justice and shared prosperity.
10:30 AM -
11:00 AM -
Addressing Health Outcomes: Sustainable, Healthy and Nutritious Food
The Pan American Health Organization cites diet-related chronic conditions such as diabetes and heart disease as the leading causes of illness and premature death in Latin America and the Caribbean. Following natural disasters, lack of access to nutritious food can be exacerbated, especially for certain populations like nursing mothers and young children. At the same time the vast natural resources available in the Caribbean create the opportunity for a home-grown solution to provide sustainable, healthy, and nutritious options. Addressing this major health challenge requires collaboration between public, private, non-governmental actors, and service providers to not only manage disease, but also to generate long-term health conscious solutions. In this session, participants will learn more about how food security and access issues are linked to health outcomes and explore potential solutions such as expanding farm to school programs, community gardens, and other community-based solutions for chronic disease management and improved nutrition.
Bahamas: Supporting Response, Recovery and Resiliency
Hurricane Dorian struck the Bahamas on September 1, 2019 as the strongest storm to ever hit the country, devastating large portions of Abaco and Grand Bahama islands. The Inter-American Development Bank has estimated that the cost of the storm exceeded $3.4 Billion, including all damages and losses - equivalent to a quarter of the Bahamas' GDP. Meanwhile, at least 5,000 people evacuated to Nassau following the hurricane, with many more evacuating to the United States. The people of the Bahamas now face a long road ahead to recovery, and while many are still grappling with acute challenges such as debris removal and temporary housing, it is also a critical moment for the country to create a path forward. In this session, stakeholders from the Bahamas will discuss current challenges and priorities in areas such as social services, food security, mental health, and business recovery and highlight how members of the CGI Action Network can leverage their resources and experiences to support the Bahamas as they rebuild.
Fostering Student-Driven Solutions to Combat Climate Change
Youth in the Caribbean have experienced first-hand changes to their region due to climate change and are facing a future of downstream impacts on their environmental and economic livelihoods. To address this issue, community stakeholders have come together to reform education and promote youth mobilization to empower young islanders with the knowledge and skills needed to lead on the solutions to environmental problems, and to enter growing economic sectors influenced by science, technology, engineering, and math. In this session, participants will hear from leaders working to implement school curriculum and programs that promote STEM and hands-on experiential learning around topics such as computational thinking, green technology, environmental conservation, and more. Speakers will also discuss the power of coalition building in empowering young people to create a more resilient future for the Caribbean region.
Leading the Energy Transition: Small Business Growth, Innovation and Entrepreneurship
With Caribbean renewable energy capacity surpassing 3.1 gigawatts last year, the region has set a new pace in the transition from fossil fuel-based energy systems. Spurred by the enticing promise of renewable, resilient energy, individuals in Puerto Rico, USVI, and across the region have led this transformation by starting their own small businesses in solar, creating innovative new clean-tech start-ups, and leading impactful, community-based nonprofits. These inspiring leaders are deploying cutting-edge digitalization, implementing capacity-strengthening efforts, and even building innovative financing models. Participants will hear from those on the forefront of the energy transition and examine where new partnerships with philanthropy, policy makers, and innovative companies can help to establish thriving clean energy ecosystems. The group will celebrate the models that have shown success and consider strategic inroads to overcome lasting barriers, as we find ourselves on the cusp of the vibrant clean energy future that the Caribbean deserves.
12:30 PM -
2:00 PM -
Dominica: Increasing Opportunities for Entrepreneurship
In 2019, Dominica’s economy grew at 9% -- the highest growth in the Caribbean and an indicator that Dominica is making a strong recovery following the devastating 2017 hurricane season. As the country’s economy continues to grow, efforts to make sure this growth is shared among all Dominicans – including young people – is more important than ever. Supporting entrepreneurs and engaging young people on issues related to small business development, mentorship, loan guarantees, and market access represent opportunities to sustain this positive economic growth in Dominica and create more livelihoods for young people across the island. In this session, speakers from Dominica will offer insight into the entrepreneurial ecosystem in Dominica and highlight opportunities for additional partnerships and investments that will further strengthen the island’s growing economy.
Enriching Community-Driven Food Systems
The Caribbean’s high reliance on imports not only increases its vulnerability to the impacts of climate change but also represents lost opportunities for farming communities across the region including over 12,000 producers in Puerto Rico. Despite this, the region’s smallholder farmers, food businesses, and chefs are driving a vibrant local food movement focused on putting local communities at the heart of food systems. This can be seen in the stronger farmers’ networks and the promotion of community engagement initiatives that are connecting stakeholders to share knowledge, build capacity, and advocate for more robust systems. In this session, participants will discuss programs such as those that provide training and education on sustainable agriculture increase the use of local inputs, and develop markets for diversified crops. These programs empower smallholder farmers and highlight how investment in community-based programs serves as a long-term strategy for resilience and economic development.
Innovative Approaches to Mental Resilience
The demand for mental health services in the Caribbean far outstrips the capacity and availability of traditional, clinical mental health services. In the wake of natural disasters the need for mental health support spikes to even higher levels and there are not enough existing resources accessible. At the same time, wider public recognition of this challenge in recent years has created an opportunity to expand and create more programs focused on supporting mental health. For example, art and sport-based interventions offer accessible ways that people can address trauma and increase feelings of agency. Participants in this session will learn about successful, non-traditional models, how they can be leveraged to support individual coping and wellbeing in the aftermath of a catastrophe. Panelists will outline how diverse organizations can leverage these tools to build the psychological resilience of Caribbean communities who are increasingly forced to grapple with the increased threat natural disasters.
Sustainable Resilience: The Power of Investments in Puerto Rico
Following natural disasters, businesses, philanthropists and impact investors all play a unique role in supporting recovery and building long-term, sustainable financial and economic resilience by creating an ecosystem of diverse jobs, supporting small businesses, and expanding new and ongoing projects. In Puerto Rico today there is a unique opportunity to create new jobs, expand technology, and rebuild infrastructure in a more sustainable, stronger way. However, for investments to achieve maximum impact there needs to be a environment which allows for increased funding from philanthropic entities and businesses alike. In this session, participants will hear from two panels representing different approaches to investing in Puerto Rico’s future. The first panel will discuss large scale institutional investments such as expanding core business operations in order to create new jobs and through philanthropic giving to address urgent social issues. The second panel will discuss the importance of investing in and supporting the growth of businesses with a focus on measurable social and environmental impacts.
3:30 PM -
4:00 PM -
Investing in High-Tech, High Skilled Caribbean Jobs
The digital economy is expected to make up to 25% of the global GDP in less than a decade and an estimated 60-70% of new valued created in the global economy over the next decade will be based on digitally-enabled platforms. In the Caribbean, where travel between islands is difficult and local industries like tourism are significantly affected by natural disasters, the digital economy represents a clear pathway to a more resilient and prosperous future. Despite this opportunity, challenges persist in fully realizing a vision of a robust digital Caribbean economy. In places like Puerto Rico, which boasts some of the highest availability of scientists and engineers per capita and 22,000 STEM students graduating each year, there is a need for more digitally-focused careers to match and retain the talent on the island. In other islands in the Caribbean, internet access remains limited, with upwards of 40% of some populations lacking access to an internet connection. In this plenary session, speakers will highlight opportunities to invest in projects that are preparing the Caribbean to take advantage of the growing digital economy, discuss approaches to promote equitable access to digital platforms, and focus on the unique assets of the Caribbean that have the potential to propel the region to the forefront of the digital economy.