CGI Action Network on Post-Disaster Recovery | June 3-4, 2019 • St. Thomas, U.S. Virgin Islands


Networking Event

8:00 AM -

 9:00 AM

Networking Breakfast

Executive Sessions

9:00 AM -

 10:30 AM

Addressing the Social Determinants of Health to Improve Wellbeing and Advance Equity

In the Caribbean region, island states face growing rates of chronic diseases while some countries struggle to address infectious diseases like HIV/AIDS, with poor and marginalized people facing the heaviest burdens across the region. Fueling these trends are a set of social determinants, including poverty and unemployment, widespread gender discrimination, high levels of violence and historical trauma, and food insecurity. In 2017, the International Monetary Fund found that the Caribbean is more impacted by violent crime than any other region in the world, with 6.8% of the population affected compared to the world average of 4.5%. These realities underscore the need for holistic interventions to improve the health and wellbeing of Caribbean people both within and outside of the traditional health care setting. This session will highlight successful models for addressing the socioeconomic realities that perpetuate poor health outcomes in the Caribbean, including programs that increase access to nutritious foods and those mitigate the long-term health impacts of trauma or toxic stress. Participants in this session will explore how members of the Action Network can incorporate such approaches into existing work or form new partnerships to reduce inequities and improve health outcomes in the communities they serve.


Dominica: Expanding Markets, Building Capacity

According to its most recent census data, Dominica has a population of just over 71,000 citizens, making it one of the 10 smallest countries in the world by population. The size of the country presents several critical challenges as the island advances its goal to become the first climate resilient nation in the world. For example, securing access to global markets for businesses and entrepreneurs is challenging; developing and retaining talent in the private sector is limited by a lack of universities and technical schools; and many of the island’s natural resources are underdeveloped due to a lack of infrastructure to grow and process goods. In the non-profit sector, there are gaps in the overall ecosystem, with limited data, organizations, and capacity to help advance the mission of the philanthropic community. Despite these significant challenges, government, civil society and the private sector have shown extraordinary resiliency in bouncing back from the devastating impact of the 2017 hurricanes. In this session, speakers will address these challenges, offer insight into leading organizations and people who are finding innovative ways to fortify and grow Dominica’s business and non-profit communities, and showcase various opportunities for partners outside of the country to support its overall growth through increased development assistance and commercial investments.


Leveraging the Tourism Sector for Long-term Sustainability

In 2018, world travel grew by 3.9% and contributed a record 8.8 trillion dollars to the world economy. The Caribbean saw a 17% increase in visitors at the end of 2018, with signs of continued growth throughout 2019. But this growth can come with increased consumption of natural resources such as water and land, a surge in energy use, and a greater generation of waste including sewage and greenhouse gas emissions. As the Caribbean benefits from increased revenue and jobs, the tourism sector has the responsibility to ensure that economic growth does not imply environmental degradation. This session will discuss innovative programs in the tourism sector to decrease overall consumption and increase sustainability, and how these practices can be prioritized while shepherding economic growth.


New Visions of the Built Environment: Dynamic, Adapted and Resilient Caribbean Islands and Cities

Looking into the future, climate scientists are forecasting an alarming picture of the risk of sea level rise and storm surges to coastal communities. During Hurricanes Maria and Irma, communities in the U.S. Virgin Islands saw this threat materialize first hand, with inland flooding in some locations exceeding 13 feet and high winds causing extensive damage across the islands. This session will consider the role of innovative engineering and design across civil and ecological systems to prepare for sea level rise and more frequent storms. Learning from examples in Puerto Rico, the continental United States, and other Caribbean nations, participants will consider how new visions of dynamic, flexible, and even natural infrastructure could be deployed to protect the most vulnerable coastal communities. Participants will be prompted to start laying the groundwork for these sorts of large-scale endeavors – thinking through the practical, financial and operational requirements to achieve this ambitious yet crucial vision.


10:30 AM -

 11:00 AM

Morning Break

Plenary Session

11:00 AM -

 12:30 PM

Leaders on the Frontlines of Climate Change

The Caribbean is being fundamentally altered by climate change, forcing governments, businesses and NGOs to build new and more resilient infrastructure, economies and societies. On the frontlines of these large-scale changes are community leaders and organizers who are tasked with the difficult job of building resilience at the community-level. How do faith-based leaders help shepherd their congregations towards adopting more resilient lifestyles? How do artisans and cultural stewards shift perspectives on climate adaptability? How do educators teach resilience to a new generation of students who are already facing the realities of a warming planet? In this plenary session, speakers will discuss how to foster strong and resilient community leaders and members, inspire the adoption of climate-smart actions, and incorporate a diversity of perspectives and voices into disaster response and preparedness efforts.

Networking Event

12:30 PM -

 2:00 PM

Networking Lunch

Executive Sessions

2:00 PM -

 3:30 PM

Accelerating Clean, Resilient Energy to Empower Communities and Strengthen Economies

Faced with the start of the 2019 hurricane season, the U.S. Virgin Islands, Puerto Rico, and the broader Caribbean are working to rapidly complete projects to strengthen their electrical systems and provide resilient energy to critical facilities in communities where outages would cause disproportionate harm. While much progress has been made, the islands are still primarily reliant on centralized, fossil-fueled energy systems - the very infrastructure that sustained so much damage in the wake of Hurricanes Maria and Irma. Communities, governments, recovery organizations, and the private sector have come to agreement that renewable, distributed generation - including solar PV, batteries, wind power and microgrids - will make communities more resilient while also advancing economic opportunity. This session will focus on driving progress towards renewable energy targets in the U.S. Virgin Islands and broader Caribbean, drawing on the lessons learned from resilient energy Commitments to Action in Puerto Rico. Participants will consider the role of nonprofits, the private sector, universities and utilities in ensuring energy continuity and maintaining equitable access for all communities in the face of changing energy paradigms.


Advancing Economic Development Through Entrepreneurship and STEM Education

Despite longstanding economic challenges in the Caribbean, including population decline, growing debt, and economic volatility, entrepreneurs and small businesses – which employ over 90% of the workforce in the U.S. Virgin Islands – play a key role in the region’s economic recovery. But to support a new generation of entrepreneurs and small businesses, investments in science, technology, engineering and math (STEM) education is crucial. STEM has a proven track record for fostering innovation and entrepreneurship in key economic drivers including the manufacturing, food production, and healthcare industries. Supporting STEM learning – both in and out of the classroom – is fundamental for developing new technologies and strengthening the workforce in the region. This session will feature local leaders who will share strategies around integrating STEM learning across all education levels in the Caribbean, creating opportunities for students to enter growing industries and empowering them to develop solutions to key challenges in their own communities and around the world. The session will also highlight leaders who are supporting existing small businesses and entrepreneurs and finding ways to sustain and expand their work across the region.


Community Preparedness: The First Line of Defense

The beginning of 2019 saw extreme weather events around the world, with snow melts and a “bomb cyclone” causing unprecedented flooding in Nebraska, and Cyclone Idai devastating 90% of Beira, Mozambique, home to 1.5 million people. 20 of the warmest years on record have come in the past 22 years, and scientists have confirmed that profound changes in the earth’s temperature drastically increase the likelihood of these extreme weather events. Although the international community and aid organizations often rush to support communities impacted by extreme weather, the first line of defense are local responses. But preparedness is key, and equipment, humanitarian supplies, and experts are needed. In the Caribbean, where logistical challenges can delay the arrival of additional support, local communities must be prepared to serve as the first response mechanism in the immediate aftermath of a disaster. This session will highlight different initiatives that are being implemented to help communities better prepare and create an opportunity for participants to discuss the critical next steps for local leaders in the Caribbean during the 2019 hurricane season.


Harnessing the Cultures of the Caribbean

The Caribbean is home to many rich and diverse cultures, each shaped by geography, religion, and the historical experiences of people in the region. These unique cultures can be harnessed to drive economic development, attracting businesses and individual visitors to boost revenue in Caribbean islands. Well-known examples of this include Carnival in Trinidad, Crop Over in Barbados, the recent the production of Hamilton in Puerto Rico and traditional Caribbean rhythms being integrated into popular music around the world. In this session, participants will begin to explore how communities have successfully harnessed their local culture to create innovative tourism offerings and cultural exports, as well as identify the resources needed to create similar opportunities across the region.


3:30 PM -

 4:00 PM

Afternoon Break

Plenary Session

4:00 PM -

 5:30 PM

Unleashing Small Business Growth for Economic Prosperity

Small business growth is key to economic development in communities across the Caribbean, with the potential to help create private sector jobs, spark innovation, and diversify economies. But the Caribbean faces a unique set of challenges to unlock its full economic potential, such as difficulty accessing global markets and consumers, a history of economic inequality, an underdeveloped workforce, and dependence on certain economic sectors that are disproportionally affected by climate change such as tourism and agriculture. Moreover, recent natural disasters have only exacerbated many of these negative economic conditions – in Puerto Rico, for example, upwards of 5,000 small businesses permanently closed because of the 2017 hurricane season. In this plenary session, speakers will discuss strategies to encourage small business growth and support entrepreneurs in the Caribbean while identifying the greatest opportunities for CGI Action Network members to contribute to projects and investments that will help create resilient, prosperous and inclusive Caribbean economies.