Island Finance Forum 2022

Meet our Speakers

President of the Republic of Palau

His Excellency Surangel S. Whipps Jr.

Surangel S. Whipps Jr. (born 9 August 1968)[2] is a Palauan businessman and politician, who has served as the president of Palau since 2021.[3] He served as senator from 2008 to 2016.[3] He is from Ngatpang state, Republic of Palau.[1] Whipps assumed office as the President of Palau on 21 January 2021.
Prime Minister of Antigua and Barbuda & Chair of AOSIS

Hon. Gaston Browne

During the past eleven years, Browne served as s a senior bank manager with the Swiss American Banking Group managing in excess of $400 million in assets, as Minister of Planning and Trade and Member of Parliament. He is presently Chairman and Chief Executive Officer of a company involved in construction and land development. Mr. Browne also served as director of several companies including LIAT (1974) Ltd (Aviation), Antigua Pier Group Ltd. Infrastructural Development) and Community Motors Ltd.

Mr. Browne’s motto is “to serve and empower,” a creed by which he lives. This can be seen in his contributions to the empowerment of the people of Point & Villa. He believes in empowerment and is passionately oppose to poverty. MP Browne frequently refers to poverty as the greatest scourge on the planet. Among his achievements at the constituency level are: An EC$30 million Fishery Development Centre, The establishment of a sporting, entertainment and leisure facility at Dredge Bay, An Information Communication Technology Centre in the Point, a Library, Computer Centre at the Villa Primary School and an affordable housing project at Dredge Bay. His achievements during a time of fiscal crisis are remarkable, were as a result of his resolve to succeed and his commitment to serve.

Led by Browne, the ABLP was returned to office in the 12 June 2014 general election after 10 years in opposition, winning 14 out of 17 seats. Browne was sworn in as Prime Minister on 13 June 2014.

Browne successfully led the ABLP to a second consecutive election victory on 21 March 2018. He was sworn in as Prime Minister for a second term on 22 March 2018.

Program Manager, Ocean Finance Initiative at Asian Development Bank (ADB)

Melissa Walsh

Melissa is an independent consultant working on blue finance with the Asian Development Bank, Micronesia Conservation Trust, and other clients. She co-leads the Ocean Finance Paper for the High-Level Panel on the Sustainable Ocean Economy and leads the Conservation Finance Alliance working group on Coastal and Marine Conservation Finance. She holds a BS in Chemistry and Marine Science (University of Miami), MS in Oceanography (University of Hawaii), and PhD in Marine Conservation Finance (James Cook University).

Prime Minister, Government of Vanuatu

Hon. Bob Loughman Weibur

Honourable Bob Loughman Weibur is the Prime Minister of Vanuatu. Has been elected Member of Parliament (MP) for the island of Tanna in every election since 2004. In 2018 he become the leader of the Vanua’aku Pati.

Prime Minister Loughman was first Minister of Education from 2013 to 2015, then Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Tourism, Commerce, Trades and Ni-Vanuatu Business from 2018 through 2019.

The Honourable Bob Loughman Weibur was elected as the 12th Prime Minister of Vanuatu on 20 April 2020.

In his tenure as Prime Minister he has taken a strong stance on protecting the human rights of the most vulnerable, including support for West Papuan self-determination by taking the battle for decolonisation to the global stage.

He has guided the nation of Vanuatu through one of the worst climate disasters ever experienced by the Pacific region, when Category 5 Cyclone Harold swept away more than 60% of the nation’s GDP in a matter of hours in 2020. Steering the cyclone recovery for the most remote and vulnerable communities, he also kept the nation entirely free from COVID 19 for more than two years since the pandemic first emerged, saving lives, livelihoods and enabling a focus on climate resilience.

Dedicating his life to public service, the Hon Bob Loughman Weibur looks forward to action alongside all nations to put an end to the current human rights violations resulting from the worsening climate crisis.

CIO at Wincrest Capital, Young Global Leader at World Economic Forum

Barbara Ann Bernard

Founder & Chief Investment Officer of asset management firm, Wincrest Capital. Barbara Ann was named as one of the top 50 Women in Hedge Funds globally by Ernst & Young and the Hedge Fund Journal in 2019. She co-founded the Variant Perspectives: Women in Value Investing Conference and was honored as a Young Global Leader in 2018 by the World Economic Forum. Her passion for investing goes back to her days of growing up in The Bahamas where as a teenager she persuaded legendary value investor Sir John Templeton, a fellow Bahamian resident, to take her on board for the first of what would become a series of summer jobs at Templeton, instilling a fundamental value-oriented investment approach to the public markets. Later, working in investment banking at Goldman Sachs, followed by alternative asset management at Deutsche Bank, and as an investment analyst at Holowesko Partners, she acquired a robust grasp of private market valuation and the hedge fund industry. Today, she is the portfolio manager of the Wincrest Contraria Fund, which is a global long/short equity fund of niche, esoteric investment ideas based on bottom-up “Go-See & Verify” research. Barbara Ann is a graduate of Li Po Chun United World Colleges (“UWC”) in Hong Kong, Lakefield College School in Canada, and the London School of Economics, where she Chaired the LSE Business Society. She is currently a Director of the Lyford Cay Foundation and Chair of the UWC Bahamian National Committee.
Foreign Secretary, Government of Guyana

Robert Persaud

On August 17, 2020, Robert M. Persaud was appointed as Foreign Secretary, Ministry of Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation of the Co-operative Republic of Guyana.

Mr. Persaud brings to this position vast experience in the areas of corporate affairs, government relations, and international business with expertise in oil and gas policy and business development, environmental management, integrated natural resources management, and the production and management of the extractive industry and agricultural sectors in Guyana with the desire to contribute to the advancement of people and communities through strong leadership, innovation, and reform. Mr. Persaud will function as advisor to the Minister on issues of Foreign Trade and Diaspora Engagement.

From 2016 to until his recent appointment, Mr. Persaud worked extensively in the area of international business and investment. Previously, he served as Senior Cabinet Minister of Natural Resources and the Environment, Senior Cabinet Minister of Agriculture, ICT4D Strategy Coordinator within the Office of the President, and a Presidential Advisor.

Mr. Persaud recently obtained a certificate in the fundamentals of petroleum from the University of Texas and holds a Master’s Degree in Business Administration from the University of West Indies. He also has an undergraduate degree from the University of Guyana. Born in 1974, he is married and has two children.

Professor and Director of Institute of Ocean, Islands and Sustainable Development (IOISD)

Dr. Transform Aqorau

Dr. Transform Aqorau is the former Chief Executive Officer of the Parties to the Nauru Agreement in Majuro, Marshall Islands. He is a board member of the International Seafood Sustainability Foundation (ISSF). Dr. Aqorau previously worked for the Pacific Islands Forum Fisheries Agency as Legal Counsel and Deputy Director. He was also Legal Advisor to the Pacific Islands Forum Secretariat and Legal Adviser and Deputy Secretary in the Solomon Islands Ministry of Foreign Affairs.

Dr. Aqorau has authored various journal, magazine and newspaper articles on regional fisheries and delivered papers and addresses at international seminars and conferences spanning more than 20 years. He holds a Bachelor of Laws from the University of Papua New Guinea, a Masters of Law from the University of British Columbia in Canada and received his Doctor of Philosophy in Law from the University of Wollongong in Australia.

Chief Minister, St Helena Government

Julie Thomas

In October 2021, St Helena made a historical transformation, implementing a Ministerial form of Government. Julie is currently serving as the first ever Chief Minister for Saint Helena Government and her role encompasses the management of all government directorates within government. Julie has direct political responsibility and accountability for all policies and services delivered by directorates in their portfolio. This includes direct financial responsibility and accountability for all policies and services delivered and the effective use of public funds spent in their portfolio directorate.
In addition to this role, Julie is also the Minister for Education, Skills & Employment and strives to be a role model for the aspiring youth of the Island. She is a successful business woman in the retail sector and has spent the majority of her life working within the private sector and commercial field. This exposure has given her the determination required to encourage the Government of St Helena to introduce and strengthen policies that provides a firm foundation that enables private sector development.

Julie is a firm believer of protecting natural ecosystems and ensuring that natural resources our used sustainably to guarantee enjoyment of these resources for generations to come. She has been an influential advocate for the sustainable development of our island for many years, and strongly supports St Helena Island being designated a Category VI, Marine Protected Area.

Julie has had a diverse working career to include exposure within the airfield operations, banking, business advisory services to name but a few. However, at the heart of all her aspirations communication remains key. She recognises the importance of communication and the power it has in changing mind-sets and gaining support, which is key when taking into account our ever-changing world and our collective desire to move towards a more blue and green agenda.

Head of Investment Banking, Republic Financial Holdings Limited

Ray Klien

Ray is the Group Head of the Investment Banking for Republic Bank, the leading capital markets advisory in the Caribbean. In his role, Ray is responsible for mergers, acquisitions, and debt capital markets and structured finance. Previously, he was a Vice President at Citigroup’s Private Bank, where he structured alternative investment products for professional family offices.

Before Citi, Ray worked at Morgan Stanley, where he ran a $13 billion alternative investment platform for high net worth clients to invest in private equity and real estate opportunities. Ray holds a Bachelor of Science in Finance and a Master of Business Administration from Columbia University of New York.

Ray serves on the Board of Literacy Incorporated, a non-profit organization based in New York that promotes reading for children in low-income communities throughout New York City. He is also the current President of the Columbia Business School Alumni Club of the Caribbean.

Director of Economic Development, Linden Fund USA

Onika Benn

Climate change negotiator, sustainability expert and stakeholder management professional are three of the terms that describe the technical expertise of Ms Onika Stellingburg. She is also, however, is a skilled communicator, analytical and critical thinker, engagement specialist and project management professional. She is known to produce results in all her endeavours, whether developing projects for funding at the community level or negotiating global agreements at the international level.

Onika currently serves as the Director for Economic Development at the Linden Fund USA, a 501 ( c ) registered organization in the United States, and registered in Guyana as the LFU Guyana Inc. In this role, she is driving the local execution of the vision for an economic rebirth of the community of Linden and Region 10 focusing on small business development, corporate social responsibility, workforce development and public-private partnership.

Her execution of this role is ably complemented by her background in multilateral diplomacy, international policy development and stakeholder engagement. She gained these skills while serving as Advisor on issues related to renewable energy, climate change, forests and sustainable development at Guyana’s Permanent Mission to the United Nations and the Group of 77 and China (G77) Coordinator for the Climate Resolution in the 75th session of the United Nations General Assembly. Onika has also received training by the Alliance of Small Island States (AOSIS) as a climate change negotiator, further representing AOSIS in global climate meetings through the negotiations of critical sections of the Paris Agreement Rulebook.

Locally, Onika has substantial experience working in both the public and civil society sectors at the senior technical level. She has supported the development of national budgets for Guyana through the mainstreaming of sustainable development initiatives, crafting high-level indicators and working with ministries to aid their internal planning and budgeting processes. She has also lead national consultation processes or the development of the Green State Development Strategy: Vision 2040, a 20-year national development plan for Guyana.

Outside of the professional world, Onika has been very active and continuously engaged. She is one of the first Guyanese selected by the World Economic Forum youth initiative, the Global Shapers Community, working with other local leaders to develop and execute projects to improve the state of their communities. She has also orked along with the Guyana Youth and Environment Network raising over 1 million dollars for projects. Internationally, Onika serves as the Regional Coordinator for the Caribbean within the Royal Commonwealth Society and was previously the Board Member responsible for Communications within the Caribbean Regional Youth Council.

Onika is a true daughter of the soil, gaining an Associate Degree in General Studies at Queens College and her Bachelor of Science Degree in Environmental Studies at the University of Guyana. She was subsequently awarded a Government of Guyana scholarship which facilitated the successful completion of her Master of Science Degree in Sustainable Environmental Management at the Natural Resources Institute of the University of Greenwich in the United Kingdom. Onika spends her leisure time as an adjunct professor at the University of Guyana, lecturing students in Environment and Development and the Fundamentals of Climate Change. She is also very active in her church, serving as a board member of the church and an executive in the youth ministries department.

CEO, Meta-Carbon

Tom Herman

Debt Manager, Ministry of Finance and Corporate Governance, Antigua and Barbuda

Nadia Spencer-Henry

Nadia Spencer-Henry has over 20 years’ experience in fiscal and debt management. She has worked with the Eastern Caribbean Central Bank and the Financial Services Regulatory Commission of Antigua and Barbuda. She is currently debt manager in the Ministry of Finance of Antigua and Barbuda and has served in this capacity for the last 10 years. She has been appointed to serve for the fourth term of the Board of the Green Climate Fund to represent SIDs from 2022-2024.

She is a doctoral candidate with the University of the West Indies Cave Hill Campus and her research interest is climate finance.

Chief Executive, New Zealand Green Investment Finance

Craig Weise

Craig Weise has over 25 years of experience in private capital markets, both in the US and NZ, grounded in financial services, law, and investment banking.

He most recently held multi-faceted executive roles for the Treasury, managing teams focused on investment stewardship, commercial and investment performance monitoring, and shareholder representation across the New Zealand government’s direct investment and managed portfolios, representing over NZD$100 billion in assets. Immediately prior to his time at Treasury, Craig was a principal at Armillary Private Capital, ultimately active as its Managing Director, Investment Banking.

Craig holds an Honours Degree in Economics from Randolph-Macon College, Virginia, and a Juris Doctorate from the University of Virginia. He is also a Chartered Alternative Investment Analyst, a Certified Investment Fund Director and a member of the New Zealand Institute of Directors.

Director Foreign Economic Cooperation, Government of Curaçao

Vanessa Toré

Vanessa Toré was born and raised in Curaçao, Dutch Caribbean. She is the Director of the Foreign Economic Cooperation Division of the Ministry of Economic Development of Curaçao. She was also the acting Secretary General of the Ministry of Economic Development until May 2014. She has held both positions since respectively July and August of 2011. In June 2015 she assumed a new challenge by becoming a Policy Advisor to the Minister of Traffic, Transport and Urban Planning. From November 1994 till June 2011 she worked at the Curaçao Chamber of Commerce and Industry (17 years). She was the manager of the Investment, Trade Promotion and Business Services department where she designed and implemented various programs and services for entrepreneurs, SME’s, Investors and Exporters. She holds an MBA degree and has followed training in Management, International trade and Investment promotion in Geneva, Netherlands, USA and Canada. She participated in various trade related committees internationally and recently she served a two year term on the board of the Caribbean Association of Investment Promotion Agencies (CAIPA). She speaks Papiamentu (mother language), Dutch, English and Spanish fluently and communicates at an intermediate level in Brazilian Portuguese. In her spare time she dedicates time voluntarily to Culture where she is active in the Jazz Scene of Curaçao promoting local Jazz musicians internationally.

UNFCCC Global Ambassador & Chief Executive Officer, Caribbean Climate-Smart Accelerator

Racquel Moses

Racquel has enabled leadership and organizations around the world to go beyond their current vision and stay on the cusp of what’s next.

As the newest UN Global Ambassador in the Race to Zero, Racquel has become a critical advisor for driving the shift to digital, process automation, and implementing key turnaround projects that heighten customer engagement and strengthen organizational performance.

Known for her ability to build coalitions, Racquel’s success in the public and private sectors has allowed her to drive important advancements on world-changing topics that require regional consensus, such as climate change, sustainability and building resilience.

Senior Vice President and Chief ESG Officer, The Royal Caribbean Group

Silvia M. Garrigó

Silvia currently serves as the Royal Caribbean Group’s senior vice president and chief environmental, social and governance officer. She is responsible for designing an enterprise-wide Environmental Social Governance (ESG) strategy, crafting relevant goals, targets, policies and programs and engaging internal and external stakeholders to support the company’s business strategy, long-term license to operate and reputational capital. She oversees the company’s ESG disclosure strategy, ensures that the company follows the appropriate practices for board oversight and management of ESG risks and opportunities and supports the integration of ESG issues into the company’s governance and enterprise risk management.

Her previous experience includes executive and senior legal positions at Millicom International and Chevron Corporation, where she also led corporate responsibility, global issues and public policy teams, the implementation of an enterprise-wide ESG policies, shareholder engagement and the publication of their annual corporate responsibility reports.

She is a senior fellow and advisory board member of UC Berkeley’s Institute for Business in Society, the World Economic Forum’s Global Future Council on Sustainable Tourism, the Ocean 100 Dialogues and the University of Miami Business School Sustainable Business Program. She has also served as an advisory board member at Duke’s Fuqua School of Business, the UN Global Compact Human Rights and Labor Group, the UC Berkeley Haas School of Business Center for Responsible Business, vice chair of the United States Council for International Business and as a member of the Harvard Kennedy School Corporate Social Responsibility Initiative. Silvia received her J.D. from the University of Miami, where she served as a member of the Law Review, and her B.A. from Boston College, cum laude.

Director UN Economic Commission for Africa

Jean-Paul Adam

Jean-Paul Adam is the Director for Technology, Climate Change and Natural Resources Management in the United Nations Economic Commission for Africa. Prior to taking on this role, he served in the Government of the Republic of Seychelles in several Cabinet positions. He was Minister of Health from 2016 to 2019. He served as Minister of Finance, Trade and the Blue Economy from 2015 to 2016 where he negotiated a debt for climate change adaptation swap and launched the process for Seychelles to become the first issuer of a Blue Bond. Between 2010 and 2014, he was Seychelles’ Minister of Foreign Affairs, where he advocated for countries to embrace the concept of the Blue Economy, to improve sustainability for island and coastal countries. Before entering the Cabinet, between 2005 and 2009, he occupied several senior roles in the Office of the President of the Republic of Seychelles including Director General for presidential affairs, Principal Secretary for the Office of the President and Secretary of state in the presidency. He started his career as a career diplomat in the Ministry of Foreign Affairs between 2001 and 2004. He is a holder of a Masters in International Political Economy form the University of Manchester (UK) and a BA in English Literature and French from the University of Sheffield (UK).

Head of Governance & Execution, Bantu Blockchain Foundation

Telly Valerie Onu

Entrepreneur, Management Consultant, Private Banker, International Speaker & Mentor with over 20yrs of Experience as a Digital Economist, Global Strategy, Strategic Planning, Management & Development Consulting, and Financial Planning with a passion for Private Sector Development specifically industry and enterprise transformation and Access to Finance.

Managing Director, Faiabrand Pte Ltd ("Faiā")

George Siosi Samuels

George Siosi Samuels is the Managing Director of Faia, a consultancy for high-growth startups and communities. He helps entrepreneurs and professionals get back on path by building productive communities. Having been named one of Australia’s Top Community Builders by Pause Fast, and featured by the likes of Adobe, Slack, and Foundr, he constantly looks for ways to build communities that last.

Thanks to his diverse career, unique upbringing, and Polynesian roots, George understands the concept of community as a part of his culture. With time, he extended his understanding into a strong concept-driven approach to community building for various startups including Draper Startup House (previously Tribe Theory Startup Hostels), co-working spaces such as Dimension⁵ and Hub Australia, and legal tech firms such as LawAdvisor.

With more than 7 years of experience across SEA and Australia as a community builder, George is a true expert at building communities for ventures and loves motivating people into action.

Development Director for the Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office (FCDO) in the Caribbean and UK Director to the Caribbean Development Bank

Stefan Kossoff

Stefan Kossoff is Development Director for the Foreign, Commonwealth, and Development Office (FCDO) in the Caribbean and UK Director to the Caribbean Development Bank. He is currently based in Bridgetown, Barbados, where he oversees the UK’s £450m bilateral development programme across the region. This includes major investments in climate resilience, infrastructure, inclusive growth, and governance and security.

Stefan joined the Department for International Development (DFID) in 1999 and is a professional specialist on governance issues. Prior to this role, he was Head of Profession for DFID’s 120-strong governance cadre. Stefan has worked on many UK development programmes in Africa, Asia and the Middle East, including long-term assignments in Tanzania, the Palestinian Territories, Afghanistan and Pakistan. He has also led teams working on governance policy, research, and multilateral effectiveness, and is well-known internationally for his work on “thinking and working politically” in development contexts.

Stefan has a BA (Hons) in Social and Political Sciences (Cambridge University) and an MSc in Development Studies (London School of Economics).

Co-head of Disaster Risk Finance, Willis Towers Watson

Dr Simon Young

Executive Director, Chambre de Commerce et d'Industrie d'Haïti

Béatrice Ilias

Highly resourceful and dedicated Executive Director with comprehensive understanding of international investment and trade, Béatrice Ilias has served on a number of national and international economic boards and committees. Forward-thinking professional with expertise utilizing communication skills and creative problem solving to effectively lead programs, organizations, and teams to success throughout diverse industries.

Committed to understanding business needs as well as industry trends to identify strategies that lead to maximum profitability. Talented communicator with cultural awareness able to forge strategic partnerships with clients and build consensus across multiple organizational levels to achieve business and financial objectives.

Béatrice was also part of the team that worked on the construction project of the port of Port-au-Prince, helped in the writing of documents on Trade and Development and is a firm believer of Sustainable Development.

She joined the team of the Haitian American Chamber of Commerce of Florida in September 2019 as a Grant writer and Business Development consultant. Currently Executive Director of the Chamber of Commerce and Industry of Haiti, Béatrice Ilias has always been dedicated to help develop projects and programs in Haiti. She was previously Chargé de Mission for the Chamber of Commerce and Industry of Martinique. Before living in Haiti, where she has lived for 24 years, Béatrice lived in St Martin (FWI). She was born in France, studied Foreign Languages, Communication and Public Relations at the Sorbonne University.

Deputy Head UN Global Team, Global Fund for Coral Reefs

Yabanex Batista

With over 20 years of experience, Yabanex has focused his professional career on the interlinkages between sustainable financing for conservation and development and international environmental policy. He has extensive experience on the establishment and management of conservation trust funds and other financial mechanisms, fundraising and resources mobilization, environmental policy and negotiations, and climate change adaptation and mitigation in Small Islands Developing States (SIDS), Latin America and the Caribbean, Africa, and the Pacific. Prior to joining the GFCR, he was CEO of the Caribbean Biodiversity Fund (CBF), worked for GITEC/GIZ (German Government Technical Cooperation Agency) in Mexico, The Nature Conservancy’s International Government Relations Department and Europe Office, the World Bank-GEF Unit, the United States Geological Survey, and IPAM (Amazon Environmental Research Institute) in Brazil. He holds an MA in International Relations and Environmental Policy from Boston University.

CSO, Deputy Executive Director and Head of ESG at PKA

Dewi Dylander

Dewi Dylander As Deputy Executive Director in charge of ESG at PKA, Denmark’s third-largest pension fund with a green profile and 400bn DKK/54bn EUR AuM, Dewi Dylander has a strategic focus on optimizing the business through sustainable investments. Mrs. Dylander has significant experience within the field of climate change and sustainable growth and believes that integrating ESG factors is essential to investment performance. She has broad legal experience from the public and private sectors, with special expertise in financial legislation and EU law. Mrs. Dylander is a trained lawyer (L) from Kammeradvokaten, the Legal Adviser to the Danish Government. She worked for several years internationally, including as a diplomat at the Danish embassy in Paris, and as Denmark’s chief negotiator for the international climate negotiations. Prior to her position in PKA, Mrs. Dylander worked as Executive Legal Director in ATP, the Danish labour market supplementary pension fund.

Director of Services, Falkland Islands Chamber of Commerce

Steve Dent

All-Party Parliamentary Groups (APPG) Chair, Small Island Developing States

Kerry McCarthy MP

In April 2020 I was asked by Keir Starmer to join his frontbench as shadow Green Transport Minister. My brief includes the decarbonisation of transport, active travel (ie cycling and walking), Brexit and roads policy.
I’m active in a number of All-Party Parliamentary Groups – ranging from the APPGs on Agroecology, Climate Change, Oceans Conservation and Net Zero, to Music, Theatre and Snooker! I also play an active role in some of the country APPGs – such as Tibet, Belize and Somaliland – and I’m now setting up an APPG on the Small Island Developing States, specifically with a view to lobbying for their interests to be represented at COP26, the UN Climate Talks being hosted by the UK later this year.
I’m not a musician, but I’m a member of the Musicians Union, and a patron of the Music Venue Trust. I also belong to SERA (Labour’s Environment Campaign), LAWS (Labour Animal Welfare Society), the SHA (Socialist Health Association), the Co-op Party, and support organisations like Greenpeace, the Wildlife Trusts and Compassion in World Farming.
Over the years I’ve introduced a number of backbench bills – including my current Supported Housing (Regulation) Bill, which has recently led to the Government setting up pilot schemes to investigate the scale of the problem in the supported housing sector, and whether regulation is needed.
I’ve previously introduced two Food Waste Bills and set up/ chaired the Food Waste APPG to campaign for the issue to be given greater priority in Government policy, which is now happening. I’m also an officer of the APPGs
on School Food and the National Food Strategy, and helped set up Feeding Bristol, which has done so much to alleviate food poverty in our city.
I’m well-known for being a vegan. It will be 30 years by the end of 2021; a rare example of making a New Year’s Resolution and sticking to it. I’ve spoken frequently in Parliament about the links between our food system and the environment, and I’m pleased that these arguments – for which I was once roundly ridiculed! – are now gaining common currency.
Some years ago I introduced a Kinship Care Bill, to highlight the contributions and sacrifices made by people who have taken on the children of family members or friends who are unable to look after them anymore, and I was a member of the Kinship Care Taskforce.

Founder, Emerge Tech Lab

Lucia Gallardo

Lucia Gallardo is a Honduran serial entrepreneur and Founder & CEO of Emerge. Emerge is an end-to-end solutions development lab working at the intersection of sustainable development, distributed technologies with new or re-imagined financial instruments, the re-alignment of economic and social incentives, and business strategy. Our work has consistently merged public and private sectors in projects related to digital identification for displaced persons, food traceability, financial inclusion for inconsistent income earners, rainforest protection, loyalty rewards programs, and more. For our work, Emerge has been nominated for the 2018 Global SDG Awards and Newsweek’s 2019 Blockchain Impact Awards. In 2020, Lucia was named one of MIT Technology Review’s Innovators under 35.

In her spare time, Lucía sits on the Boards of: Penta Network, a company building foundational blockchain infrastructure; Crypto Kids Camp, a non-profit organisation that connects kids from lower income households to emerging technologies; Rainforest Partnership, a non-profit organisation promoting the protection of the world’s tropical rainforests; the Caribbean Blockchain Alliance, a regional organisation promoting the adoption of decentralised technologies across the region; and, WE Global Studio, an innovation studio supporting the world’s female entrepreneurs. Lucía is an Advisor to Metis, a Layer 2 solution focused on the decentralised future of work.

Prior to starting Emerge, Lucia co-founded Dona un Libro, Cambia una Mente, a Honduran education focused non-profit and 2016 recipient of President Obama’s Young Leaders of the Americas Fellowship. Lucia has past experience in both the public and private sectors, ranging from immigration and trade relations on diplomatic missions to AI-enabled mobile tech and early-stage investments.

Director, We Are Guernsey

Christopher Jehan

Christopher has nearly 30 years’ experience in the financial services industry, predominantly in the funds sector.

Christopher began his career with a short stint at the Bank of Bermuda prior to moving to Guinness Flight (later Investec Asset Management, now Ninety One) in 1994. Christopher held roles as Legal & Technical Manager, Projects Manager, Operations Manager and Technical Director. He was a Director of Investec funds and other structures and was a Member of the Management Committee and General Representative of Investec’s offshore life branch.

In 2016 Christopher founded Midshore Consulting, which has operations in both Guernsey and Florida and clients spanning three continents. Midshore’s specialities include international regulation, fund structuring and digital assets. In 2021, Christopher led the team at Midshore in getting the first crypto fund authorised in Guernsey.

Christopher joined the Board of Guernsey Finance in January 2021. He is also a Non-Executive Director of various firms and funds.

Christopher is a regular contributor to committees and working groups in Guernsey, including the Guernsey Investment & Funds Association (GIFA, including as Chair, Vice Chair and Chair of the Technical Sub-Committee), the Guernsey International Insurance Association (GIIA) and the Guernsey International Business Association (GIBA). Christopher is President of the Guernsey Branch of the Chartered Institute for Securities and Investment (CISI). He was also Founding Chairman and later Treasurer of the Bailiwick of Guernsey Data Protection Association (BGDPA).

Christopher is a Chartered Fellow of the CISI, a Member of the Institute of Directors and an IMC Member of the CFA Society of the UK.

CEO, Blockchain Triangle

Darren Wolfberg

Darren Wolfberg is a seasoned technology and finance professional having managed multiple institutional business lines a large multinational banks. In this capacity, Darren has been featured on Bloomberg, CNBC and Fox news, and internationally through various news venues in Canada, Australia and Japan. Darren combines this finance experience with a product development and corporate venture capital background at Sony. Darren has a BFA from the University of Michigan, an MBA from the University of Chicago Booth School of Business, and is also known for innovative form of art seen on BubbleArt.

Senior Advisor, GET.invest

Ilham Talab

Ilham Talab is based in Brussels as a Technical Advisor at GET.invest, a European program supported by the EU, Germany, the Netherlands, Sweden and Austria, that aims at mobilising investment in renewable energy projects and companies. Over the past 9 years, she was involved in renewable energy roles covering Africa, the Middle East and the Pacific Islands supporting enterprises, designing trainings & policy advisory initiatives and using data for decisions.

Director of the Strategy, Risk, Results and Learning Department at The World Bank

Johannes Zutt

Johannes Zutt became the Director for Strategy, Results, and Risk in the World Bank’s Operations Policy and Country Services (OPCS) vice presidency in January 2019.

In this role, Zutt focuses on strengthening the results focus and managing the risks of World Bank operations as well as the overall staff learning program. He also plays a key role in various strategic engagements, including for IDA.

Before joining OPCS, Zutt served as the World Bank’s Country Director for Turkey. Previously, he held several other Country Director positions for: Comoros, Eritrea, Kenya, Rwanda, Seychelles and Somalia; and also for Bangladesh, Nepal and Bhutan.

In 2008, he served as the acting head of the Department of Integrity (INT), the anti-corruption unit of the World Bank Group, and prior to that, as the Adviser to one of the Bank’s two Managing Directors.

From 2000 to 2006, he worked as the Country Program Coordinator for Angola, China, Malawi, Mongolia, Mozambique, and Zambia, as well as the team leader for numerous country strategies and projects.

A Dutch national, Zutt joined the World Bank in 1999. He has a J.D. from Harvard University and a D.Phil. (in philosophy) from the University of Oxford.

Chief Executive Officer, Niue Chamber of Commerce

Catherine Etuata Papani

Head of Advocacy, Jubilee Debt Campaign (U.K.)

Jerome Phelps

Jerome is an experienced advocacy professional and NGO leader. He has a track record of developing successful strategies for radical change, using a wide range of activities and tactics. He is adept at framing key issues, designing and conducting research, developing collaborative strategies, advocating to key targets and bringing together multiple stakeholders in the process of change. He has worked at the national, regional and global levels, with partners and stakeholders from grassroots activists to intergovernmental bodies.

CEO, Caribbean Biodiversity Fund

Karen McDonald Gayle

Karen has over 20 years of experience in the Jamaican and Caribbean environmental field which have given her vast experience in both Public Sector Policy Development as well as civil society dialogue and participation. She is a founding member of the Jamaica Institute of Environmental Professionals and has proudly served on the Board of Directors of the Natural History Society of Jamaica, Campion College Alumni Association and Jamaicans for Justice. Her professional work has focussed on community environmental management throughout the region including as the Chief Executive Officer of Jamaica’s largest NGO grant-making institution.

She was the Conservation Finance Program Manager for the Caribbean Biodiversity Fund where she played a critical role in the coordination and technical support to the National Conservation Trust Funds. As the Funds and the Conservation Finance Program grows, this included support for Governance, Sustainable Finance Mechanisms, and Effective Grantmaking.

She is now the Chief Executive Officer for the Caribbean Biodiversity Fund where she oversees operations and development of new initiatives.

Chief Executive Officer, Tourism Authority of Kiribati

Petero Manufolau

Petero Manufolau is the Chief Executive Officer of the Tourism Authority of Kiribati (TAK). He is part of a team that is responsible for the sustainable development and promotion of tourism for Kiribati. Prior to joining TAK, Petero held senior management positions in both private and regional tourism organisations specializing in resort and destination marketing, with a passion for tourism SME promotion and sustainable tourism development. He is a graduate of the University of the South Pacific with a Bachelor of Arts Degree majoring in Management & Public Administration and Tourism Studies, a Post Graduate Diploma in Diplomacy and International Relations and also completed a Pacific Islands Tourism Professional Fellows Program at the East West Centre in Hawaii.

Deputy Premier and Minister of Home Affairs, Government of Bermuda

Hon. Walter Roban

Walter H Roban JP, MP, serves as Deputy Premier of Bermuda and is the Minister of Home Affairs. A man with a passion for politics and community, he has a career spanning nearly 30 years.

Minister Roban was appointed a Government Senator in 2003 and held the posts of Junior Minister of Health & Family Services, Tourism & Transport, and Education & Development until 2006.

In 2007, Roban was elected to the House of Assembly as representative for Constituency 15, Pembroke East. He served as the Junior Minister of Labour, Home Affairs, and Housing from February 2008. Roban was appointed to Cabinet in June of 2009 as Minister Without Portfolio, responsible for Municipal Reform. He served as the Minister of Health, and Minister of Environmental Planning and Infrastructure Strategy from 2009 until 2011. Roban later served as Minister of Transport from June 2012 to December 2012. He successfully retained his seat in the December 2012 General Election and held the Shadow Minister positions of Public Safety, Home Affairs, and National Security from 2012 to 2017.

Since the his party returned to Government in 2017 Minister Roban served as Minister of Transport and Regulatory Affairs and is currently the Minister of Home Affairs. His portfolio includes the Departments of Energy, Planning, Environment and Natural Resources, Land Title and Registration, Land Valuation, Consumer Affairs, the Registry General, and the Regulatory Authority. Minister Roban also has been given responsibility for some international matters, specifically as it relates to Bermuda’s relationship with the Caribbean region.

Chief Executive Officer, CARICOM Development Fund (CDF)

Rodinald Soomer

Mr. Rodinald Soomer is the Chief Executive Officer of the CARICOM Development Fund (CDF) since September 2015 and is currently leading the CDF through its Third Funding Cycle, 2020-2025. He was previously employed with the Organisation of Eastern Caribbean States (OECS) Commission, as Head of the Economic Development Policy Unit from May 2005 to August 2015, with oversight responsibility for regional sector programmes in Agriculture, Tourism, Statistics and E-Government, and a lead role in the preparation of a regional Growth and Development Strategy. Mr. Soomer started his career with the Government of St. Lucia in the Ministry of Planning, Development and Environment, where he served for twelve years, from 1986 to 1998, managing multi-year programmes of donor and technical assistance from multiple agencies including the British Development Division/DFID, the European Union, Kuwait Fund, Commonwealth Secretariat, OAS, the World Bank and the CDB, spanning sectors such as economic and social infrastructure, tourism and agriculture. He subsequently did a 6-year stint in the private sector as Executive Vice President/CEO of the St. Lucia Hotel and Tourism Association (SLHTA), forging partnerships around key industry priorities, including inter-sectoral linkages, visitor safety and security, marketing, public awareness, human resource development and tourism policy making. Mr. Soomer holds a Bachelor’s Degree in Economics from the University of the West Indies and a Master’s Degree in Economics from York University in the UK, with a specialisation in Project Analysis, Finance and Investment.
Multimedia Journalist, Producer & Anchor, CNC3 Television

Ryan Bachoo

Ryan Bachoo is a multimedia journalist from Trinidad and Tobago and has worked at CNC3 Television for 11 years. He has studied both Journalism and Communications and covered politics, news and current affairs and hosted several shows at CNC3 Television. With a keen interest in climate change, Ryan presented CNC3’s COP26 coverage in 2021 and continues to follow the green revolution in his job.

Founder & CEO, MashupLabs and WorkEvolved

Andrew Button

After a 15-year career working in rural Atlantic Canada with the various government agencies and economic development organizations, Andrew founded Mashup Lab (; a for-more-than-profit company focused on one thing: unlocking the entrepreneurial potential of remote, rural, and island communities.
Mashup Lab’s activities fall under two primary business units; the Mashup Lab Virtual Business Incubator ( and 2 rural co-working spaces that operate under the brand WorkEvolved ( located in Bridgewater and Liverpool, Nova Scotia, Canada. In just the past 36 months Mashup Lab has successfully scaled its Virtual Business Incubator to over 80 rural, remote, and island communities, working with 200 innovative entrepreneurs to start and grow 130+ businesses in those communities.

Andrew is also co-founder of Awesome South Shore (, a community-backed micro-fund that has given away over $80,000 in “no-strings-attached” cash to people that want to do something awesome in their community.

Andrew holds an MBA from Saint Mary’s University and a BBA from Acadia University.  Most recently he was selected into the Wallace McCain Institute’s Entrepreneurial Leaders Program as one the Top 30 high-growth potential entrepreneurs in Atlantic Canada.

Andrew is originally from a small rural community on the island of Newfoundland, Canada. He now lives in a small rural community in Nova Scotia, Canada with his wife Eva and their two boys, Josh and James.

Project Director, CFAN

Benjamin Bartle

Ben Bartle is a principal/project director with RMI’s Climate Finance Access Network (CFAN).

Operationally, as project director, Ben manages CFAN’s various work streams and staff alongside CFAN’s director. Ben is the primary point of contact for CFAN’s national Climate Finance Advisor cohorts before, during, and following their tenure in-country. He also coordinates activities with partner institutions and programs. Ben leads advisors in designing climate finance projects and securing climate finance from public and private sources across SIDS and LDCs in the Pacific, Caribbean, and Africa. Ben also plays a lead role in developing and facilitating both advisor training and in-country workshops programs.

Strategically, Ben works alongside the CFAN director on CFAN growth and strategy development/planning, membership and country engagement, and fundraising activities. Ben also provides leadership on external engagement and communications, serving as a spokesperson to CFAN’s various stakeholders (governments, donor institutions, member initiatives).

Chairman, Commonwealth Pacific Parliamentary Group On Human Rights & GOPAC (Oceania)

Lord Fusitu'a

Lord Fusitu’a is the Chairman of GOPAC (Global Organization Against Corruption) Oceania and an Executive member of the GOPAC World Board, he is also Chairman of the Commonwealth Pacific Parliamentary Group on Human Rights, Co-Chair of the AFPPD Gender & Women’s Empowerment Committee and a Barrister & Solicitor from Australia for over three decades.

Lord Fusituʻa has been active in several key areas of anti-corruption and global transnational security in Oceania regionally and globally, as well as in the financial technology arena. He is a grassroots and social media educator and advocate for digital currency such as Bitcoin, especially to empower the underbanked agrarian farmers of Tonga, particularly in the area of remittances.

He advocates for legislation to allow Tonga to adopt Bitcoin as a legal tender to solve the GDP remittance dependence issues that face Tonga and all the Pacific.

Deputy Premier, Government of Montserrat

Dr. Sammy Joseph

Dr. Samuel “Sammy” Joseph is a son of Richard ‘John’ Joseph and Yolande Joseph, of Harris’ Village, Montserrat.

Educated at the University of the West Indies (UWI) and Baylor Unive…rsity in Texas, Dr. Joseph holds a PhD in Physics (2009), a Master’s in Computational Physics (2001) and first class honors in Mathematics (1999). He was one of the ten students accepted into the High Energy Physics postgraduate Diploma programme (2001) at the prestigious ICTP institution in Trieste, Italy and was the first black student to graduate with a PhD in Physics from Baylor University. Dr. Joseph credits his teachers at the St. George’s Primary School and the Montserrat Secondary School for laying the foundation of discipline and intellectual curiosity that allowed him to achieve academic success.

As a PhD student at Baylor University he became interested in fair treatment for graduate students and student workers and served as the Physics representative to the Graduate Student Association (GSA). In this capacity, he fought for and obtained the right for students to query their test results. Later, he was elected as treasurer of the GSA and during his tenure he was instrumental in successful negotiations in obtaining better health insurance coverage for graduate students.
Upon the completion of his doctorate in Physics, he was faced with the decision to stay in the United States and continue his contributions to academia or return to Montserrat and invest his energies there. Choosing to invest in the soil that nourished him, Dr. Joseph returned to Montserrat in 2010 as an educator at the Montserrat Secondary School (MSS) and the Montserrat Community College (MCC). While teaching courses in Mathematics, Physics and Statistics, he managed and coached the basketball team MSS Warriors and established a new basketball team, the Assassins. Over the past two years he served as Staff Sponsor and coached the Montserrat debating team, the champions of the Leeward Island Debating competition.

Believing that Montserratians could leverage their ICT skills to draw business from the global community, Dr. Joseph along with his brother Daniel Joseph and Manish Valechha, established Montserrat’s first software company, Lavabits. He later continued to invest in the development of ICT skills and businesses in Montserrat as a member of the National ICT Committee and as a teacher and mentor to the Young Enterprise business startup Dropkik Developers. In addition, he has served as a member of the committee responsible for organising Montserrat’s first national science fair.

Joseph unsuccessfully contested the 2014 general election for Movement fo Change and Prosperity (MCAP). Following the resignation of MCAP Leader and former Premier Reuben Meade, Joseph contested and retained the seat for MCAP in the 30 January 2017 by-election.

He was re-elected in the 2019 election and appointed Deputy Premier and Minister of Communications, Works, Energy, and Labour on 21 November 2019.

Managing Director, Enduring Earth

Zdenka Piskulich

Zdenka Piskulich is the Managing Director for Enduring Earth. Enduring Earth is an ambitious collaboration to accelerate and strengthen conservation worldwide through broad-based partnerships, permanent funding and local leadership. Together, we’re building a more sustainable, prosperous future for people and planet.

Before joining the Enduring Earth team, Zdenka led Forever Costa Rica since 2010 and is President of the Latin America and Caribbean Network of Environmental Funds since 2019. She is also the chair of the Conservation Finance Alliance’s Environmental Funds Working Group since 2019. Previously, she worked at The Nature Conservancy for over thirteen years as Director of the Costa Rica Program and formerly as the Director of the International Private Lands Initiative. She also worked as Executive Coordinator for the Environmental and Natural Resources Law Center, CEDARENA.

As an environmental lawyer, she has helped develop and promote policy tools such as conservation easements and financial incentives for conservation throughout Latin America. She has also led several fundraising campaigns, including the $25 million Osa Campaign, and has been instrumental in the negotiation of two debt for nature swaps for Costa Rica, which total $56 million. Zdenka also helped design and implement the Forever Costa Rica PFP. She has a law degree from the University of Costa Rica and an MA in International Development from the American University in Washington D.C.

Executive Director, Georgetown Chamber of Commerce & Industry and Board Member of CARICHAM

Richard Rambarran

Richard Rambarran, the Executive Director of the Georgetown Chamber of Commerce and Industry (GCCI) is a very dynamic individual who has a breadth of knowledgeabout the Guyanese market and should serve as an excellent resource for information on developments within Guyana in the energy sector. He is also the Managing Director of Ascension Business Services, a firm that provides a variety of services to companies seeking to do business in Guyana, including corporate establishment as well as accounting, economic, financial and marketing services, among other things. He is an Adjunct Professor in the Department of Economics, University of Guyana and a Senior Economic & Financial Specialist of Project Development Consultancy, a market research company. Richard holds a Bachelor of Science in Economics, a Master of Business Administration, a Master of Arts in Economics, along with several certificates from the IMF, Centre for Latin American Monetary Studies, United Nations, amongst others, in fields such as macroeconomic stability, financial programming, debt sustainability, development effectiveness evaluation and sustainable growth.

President of the Gozo Business Chamber and INSULEUR

Joseph Borg

Joseph Borg is the president of INSULEUR (the Insular Chambers of Commerce and Industry of the European Union). He was born on the 3rd December 1960. He studied philosophy and theology at the Sacred Heart Seminary, Victoria, Gozo, and obtained a Litentiate from the Lateran University in Rome in 1984. Throughout the years Mr Borg has held a number of executive positions, including director with Francis X Borg Co. Ltd., and managing director of the same firm, the family-owned furniture manufacturing company.

Joseph also served as a director on the board of the Malta Development Corporation from 1989 to 1992. He was involved in the Gozo Committee of the Malta Federation of Industries, from 1988 to 1992 as its secretary, and then as its Chairman from 1992 to 1993. In this post he also served on the Council of the Malta Federation of Industries. Mr Borg was also a director of Bank of Valletta plc.

Joseph Borg was also chairman of Gozo Channel Co. Ltd. from July 2005 to July 2008, and is presently a board member on the newly set up Gozo Regional Development Authority. He has also been a member of the council and secretary of the Gozo Business Chamber from 1999 to 2005. He was again elected to the Council of the same Chamber in January 2010. In January 2012 he was nominated Vice-President of the same Chamber. From October 2018 he became President of the Gozo Business Chamber and also President of INSULEUR as from December 2018. Joseph Borg is also the Chairman of the Gozo Regional Committee which groups all stakeholders within the island of Gozo, and represents the same Committee within the Malta Committee for Economic and Social Development.

Mr Borg serves in a number of voluntary organisations in Gozo amongst others as director of the OASI Foundation (Foundation for Drug and Alcohol rehabilitation) since its inception. He is also a member of the Fondazione Centesimus Annus pro Pontifice since 2009.

Head of Department of Energy, Government of Greenland

Rasmus Wendt

Senior Manager for Sustainability, Climate Change and Natural Resources, Economist Impact

Martin Koehring

Martin Koehring is senior manager for sustainability, climate change and natural resources at Economist Impact (part of The Economist Group). He leads Economist Impact’s sustainability-related policy and thought leadership projects in the EMEA region. He is also the head of the World Ocean Initiative, inspiring bold thinking, new partnerships and the most effective action to build a sustainable ocean economy. He has led major projects in areas such as food sustainability, sustainable infrastructure and ocean sustainability. Moreover, he is a member of the Advisory Committee for the UN Environment Programme’s Global Environment Outlook for Business and a faculty member in the Food & Sustainability Certificate Program provided by the European Institute for Innovation and Sustainability.

His previous roles at The Economist Group, where he has been since 2011, include managing editor, global health lead and Europe editor at The Economist Intelligence Unit.

He earned a bachelor of economic and social studies in international relations from Aberystwyth University and a master’s degree in international relations from the College of Europe.

In addition to English and his native German, he also speaks Dutch, French and Italian.

Martin has been a Latin dancer since 2014, specialising in salsa and cha cha cha. He has performed with various dance teams (Caramelo, OtraDanz, Pexava) mainly in London and other parts of the UK but also globally (Amsterdam, Antalya, Marrakech, Berlin).

Associate Director, Scottish Futures Trust

Diarmaid Lawlor

Diarmaid helps clients make well-informed decisions about place-based policy and investment challenges. He is a designer, educator, and communicator. With a multidisciplinary background, and over 20 years’ experience working across sectors in the UK and Europe, Diarmaid champions creative approaches to making better places.

Head of Tourism, St Helena Government

Matthew Joshua

A weekly commercial air service to St Helena from Johannesburg with Airlink began quite recently in late 2017. Until then the remote island was only accessible by sea.

Matthew Joshua was born on St Helena. He gained hospitality and marketing experience in London and Cape Town and has been involved in tourism and hospitality on St Helena for the last 10 years, notably as opening GM for the island’s largest hotel.

Matthew’s plans to develop his own destination management company and restaurant on the island were dashed by COVID, and in a strange twist of fate he ended up running the island’s quarantine facility for the first year of the pandemic.

Matthew was appointed Head of Tourism for St Helena in May 2021 by the St Helena Government.

Currently, the main objective of St Helena Tourism is to drive the sector’s recovery over the next 2-3 years, to ensure the destination sees a return to pre-pandemic levels of activity and then continues to develop. It is the intention of St Helena Government to divest tourism functions into the private sector once tourism has recovered.

St Helena has remained COVID free for two years (no community spread), but, like the rest of the world, the economic impacts have been devastating. Positively, Matthew says, “St Helena is a breath of fresh air. The Island I call home has huge potential as a tourism destination. It’s so unlike anywhere else in the world. Paradoxically, the very attributes that usually constrain tourism – remoteness, challenges with access, a lack of large scale development – could be the island’s greatest tourism assets, if marketed effectively.”

Blue Economy Manager, Waitt Institute

Asia Williams

Premier of the Cayman Islands

Wayne Panton

CEO, Pacific Catastrophe Risk Insurance Company

‘Aholotu Palu

‘Aholotu Palu has been involved in various roles in Tonga’s Ministry of Finance and the Prime Minister’s Office for almost 20 years. He has also held significant positions at the World Bank, the Deutsche Gesellschaft für Internationale Zusammenarbeit (GIZ) and the Pacific Islands Forum Secretariat (PIFS).

An Economist by trade, he has vast experience on public policy analysis (fiscal and monetary), sovereign loan negotiations, banking, investment, healthcare financing and matters related to sustainable development.

His other areas of expertise include climate and disaster risk finance-related issues and public finance management; managing aid programs/projects with relevant stakeholders; project development, management and appraisals; and economic and budget analysis, planning, formulation and execution.

‘Aholotu graduated with a Bachelor of Arts in Economics and Public Administration in Fiji and a Master of Sustainable International Development in the USA. In addition, he has undertaken post-graduate professional courses for Executive in Finance and Banking at the University of Malta, Public and Private Partnership Infrastructure in a Market Economy at Harvard University (Kennedy School) in the USA, and Small State Financial and Banking Management at Oxford University (St Catherine College) in the UK.

UN Climate Change High-Level Champion at COP26

Nigel Topping

Cabinet Secretary for Rural Affairs and Islands, Scottish Government

Mairi Gougeon MSP

Mairi Gougeon was appointed Cabinet Secretary for Rural Affairs and Islands in May 2021.

Mairi Gougeon was previously a councillor for Brechin and Edzell, during which she was chairwoman of the East of Scotland European Consortium.

She is a history graduate from the University of Aberdeen.

Mairi was elected as the MSP for Angus North and Mearns in May 2016. She was appointed Minister for Public Health and Sport in December 2020.

Consultant in Entrepreneurship, Innovation and Business Development

Samir Da Cruz Silva

Samir Da Cruz Silva is a Consultant in Entrepreurship, Innovation & Business Development. He’s also a Certified Trainer and Facilitator of Lean Startup, Design Thinking, Strategy, Marketing and Financial Model for Entrepreneurs. Samir is a 2018 Mandela Washington Fellow || 2017 Tony Elumelu Foundation Entrepreneur || 2016 Alumni YALI Regional Leadership Center Dakar and member of the Youth Advisory Council in the Cabo Verde Government.

Senior Associate/Solicitor, Dentons Delany

Rachel Welch-Phillips

Rachel Welch-Phillips is a Senior Associate in the Trinidad & Tobago office of Dentons Delany and is a member of the regional Corporate and Commercial practice group where she focuses on mergers & acquisitions, commercial contract drafting and negotiation, project development, debt financing, and regulatory advice across a variety of industry sectors. In addition to corporate and commercial matters, Rachel has a particular focus on environmental compliance and advisory matters and holds undergraduate and masters degrees in Environmental Policy.
Rachel is co-leader of Dentons’ Caribbean-wide ESG Steering Committee. She holds a deep passion for assisting clients on their ESG journeys both internal and client facing. Rachel spent several years practicing law in London assisting clients across Europe with access to ESG financing, developing internal ESG strategies, complying with the ESG regulatory landscape in Europe and embedded their ESG goals into commercial and procurement contracts. Now that she has returned to her home country of Trinidad, she is eager to assist in the national and regional discourse around ESG and assist businesses and regulatory bodies with accelerating progress in this space.

Senior lecturer and head of department Chemical and Environmental Engineering , Faculty of Engineering. University of Mauritius

Vimi Dookhun

Senior Manager, Advisory KPMG IMPACT

Staci Scott

Risk Informed Developed Specialist, UNDP Pacific Office

Lisa Buggy

Founder, Women in Blockchain Talks

Lavinia Osbourne

Senior Partner & Head of Audit Department, PKF Malta

George Mangion

President, Government of Suriname

Chan Santokhi

Energy Policy Associate, CARICOM

Azell Francis

Azell Francis is an energy analyst from Trinidad and Tobago with ten years of experience in the pump manufacturing and energy space. Azell is a Doctoral Scholar at the Georgia Institute of Technology. Her research focuses on Energy and Sustainable Development for Small Island Developing States. With a Bachelor of Science in Mechanical Engineering and a Master of Science in Applied Engineering with a concentration in Engineering Management, and a Professional Certificate in Occupational Safety and Environmental Compliance, Azell considers herself a connector who can bridge the gap between the technical, economic, and policy sides of energy.

Azell currently serves as an Energy Policy Associate at CARICOM Energy and is actively involved with the Energy Club at Georgia Tech. In addition, she has served as a two-term Chair of the Southeastern Energy Conference and the Corporate Relations Chair. She is a member of the Association of Energy Engineers, the Society of Women Engineers, and a two-term Island Innovation Ambassador. Driven by her passion for service, Azell is the Founding President of the Rotaract Club of Peachtree City and serves on the Board of the Rotary Club of Peachtree City as the Director of Club Administration. She is also actively involved at her alma mater, serving as the President of the Young Alumni Board, and was inducted as a member of the 40 under 40 alumni class of 2020.

Director, Programmes and Initiatives, Pacific Island Forum

Zarak Khan

Director of Renewable Energy Development Division, Office of the Prime Minister, Cook Islands Government

Tangi Tereapii

CEcD, Chief Business Development Officer at Invest Puerto Rico

Michael Gay

A seasoned economic professional with regional, domestic, and international experience, Michael specializes in business attraction, expansion and retention, as well as innovation and entrepreneurship. He comes to InvestPR with over 20 years of economic development experience after leading business development efforts in Madison, Wisconsin focused on advanced manufacturing, biosciences, information and communications technology, and healthcare. While in Wisconsin he also played an instrumental role in helping the University of Wisconsin-Platteville become more entrepreneurial and address new workforce and economic development initiatives. Michael holds a Bachelor of Science in Public & Environmental Administration and a Masters in Urban & Regional Planning from the University of Wisconsin. He completed thesis research at La Universidad de Los Andes and La Javeriana Pontificia in Bogota, Colombia, and is a Certified Economic Professional recognized by the International Economic Development Council.

Business Development Manager at Invest Puerto Rico

Sam Talman

Sam is strategic researcher and business developer with a background in international and economic development in Latin America. At Invest Puerto Rico he focuses on energy investment opportunities and solutions, sustainability and efficiency, and critical infrastructure for the island’s competitiveness. He leads Invest Puerto Rico’s Energy Committee, a forum constituted by private and public sector partners to advance energy initiatives on the island. Prior to Invest Puerto Rico, Sam received his Master’s in Public Policy jointly from the Erasmus University in Rotterdam and the Autonomous University of Barcelona. He received his BA in Economics and Political Science from the University of Pittsburgh. Sam is based out of San Juan, Puerto Rico.

Economic Development Advisor, The Fintech Times

Richie Santosdiaz

Richie Santosdiaz is an economic development advisor in the management consulting realm with a focus and passion towards internationalization (international trade and foreign direct investment (FDI)) and the digitisation of it. He is passionate around emerging markets as well as sectors such as fintech, agriculture, tourism education, creative industries (film and television) and wider tech as a whole. Richie’s work has been directly with the public sector as well as interactions with the private sector.

Having lived in seven countries with over 15 years professional experience, he was ex-PA Consulting based in London, where he had an opportunity to work with high-level government (UK, Canadian, Mayor of London) and multinational corporate clients in Europe, North America and the Middle East. From 2019 until early 2021 he was also Head of Strategy for a niche consulting firm based in Dubai, having had the privilege to lead and advise on key commercialisation projects across mainly in Saudi Arabia.

Now based in Dubai as his base, Richie Santosdiaz is currently an independent economic development advisor, as well as a sitting senior strategic advisor for Emirati-owned and founded The Corporate Group, as well as acting Head of the Middle East and Africa (MEA) for fintech-renowned the Fintech Power 50 as well as the leading fintech publication The Fintech Times.

From 2016 – present, Richie has also been a regular commentator and contributor in economic development with a few hundred contributions/interviews/opinion eds/productions in the media (examples include guest columns on, Entrepreneur, NBC News and various leading niche, regional and national outlets like The National (UAE)), Arab News (Saudi Arabia), The Financial Express (India), and The Korea Times.

Originally from the USA, Richie speaks Spanish and various levels of fluency with French, Portuguese and Arabic. He has a Masters Degree from SOAS: University of London in Globalization & Multinational Corporations and an Advanced Certification of International Trade from the Institute of Export and International Trade UK.

Richie is a mentor for both the Mayor of London’s International Business Programme, specifically for the Middle East and African region as well one from the Dubai Chamber of Commerce. Both aim to help SMEs in tech, financial services (particularly in fintech), creative industries and life sciences to internationalize.

Finally, Richie Santosdiaz has also adjunct lectured on the subject of economic development and wider internationalization. This included courses at undergraduate level in London with the Council on International Educational Exchange (CIEE) as well as recently with the SP Jain School of Global Management at Masters level.

Chair, Bermuda Business Development Agency

Steve Weinstein

Stephen was elected BDA Chair in 2020 and has been a member of the board since 2016. He currently serves as an advisor to RenaissanceRe having retired after two decades from his role as Executive Vice President, Group General Counsel, Corporate Secretary and Chief Compliance Officer. During his time with RenaissanceRe, Stephen was Chair of the Risk Sciences Foundation, the company’s charitable vehicle committed to researching and developing risk-mitigation techniques and raising awareness through conferences and outreach events, including the award-winning Risk Mitigation Leadership Forum series, and served as a member of the Executive Committee. Prior to RenaissanceRe, Stephen worked for Willkie Farr & Gallagher LLP, a leading international law firm.

Stephen serves on the boards of several industry and charitable groups including Bermuda Institute of Ocean Sciences (BIOS), an independent U.S. non-profit scientific research and educational organisation based in Bermuda, and the R Street Institute, a leading U.S. non-partisan policy organisation. He also serves on the President’s Advisory Counsel for the National Wildlife Federation, America’s largest non-profit conservation organisation, and is a member of Bermuda’s COVID-19 Economic Advisory Committee. Stephen is a graduate of Columbia College, NY, and Harvard Law School.

Director, Public Sector Projects, CCSA

Kiesha Farnum

Kiesha is an experienced organisational and project management professional who has worked in 17 countries with organisations such as the Inter-American Development Bank (IADB), the former Department of Foreign Affairs and Development (DFAT-D) of the Government of Canada, the former Australian Agency for International Development (AusAID) and Walkers Institute for Regenerative Research, Education & Design (WIRRED) among others.

With over 15 years’ experience focused on innovation for growth across a variety of sustainable development sectors, Kiesha is an adept project manager whose work has traversed multiple thematic areas.

Kiesha holds a M.Sc. in Project Management, with a specialization in the Economics of Oil and Gas (& Renewable Energy) from the University of Liverpool, a BSc. in Psychology with a minor in Sociology & Management, from the University of the West Indies, St. Augustine Campus, is a certified Project Management Professional (PMP) and has trained as an Executive Coach with Erickson Coaching International.

Chief Business Officer, Trend Media Group

Eileen Ruddy

Eileen is a dedicated senior and executive manager with 20+ years’ experience within the Digital Media and Publishing Industries. She held several roles including Group Online Sales Director within one of Ireland’s largest Publishing Groups, Independent News & Media (INM) now known as Mediahuis Ireland. Eileen also 7 years’ experience working in the Caribbean markets where she holds the role of Chief Business Development Officer for Trend Media Group. She is also a board member for the 1st digital bank in Trinidad & Tobago (Ansa Bank)

Business Development Director, Invest Puerto Rico

Karen Mojica

Born and raised in Puerto Rico, Ms. Karen Mojica Franceschi is a lawyer, notary public, and Communications expert. She serves as Director of Business Development at Invest Puerto Rico, where she works to attract companies and investment, mainly in manufacturing, biosciences, financial and professional services, creative industries, and research and development. Karen is a collaborative leader driven by deep commitment and passion for the island.

Prior to this role, she held positions in the Puerto Rico Destination Marketing Organization, Discover Puerto Rico, in the Puerto Rico Tax Incentives Office and in the Department of Economic Development and Commerce, and she worked for more than 15 years in Media, both as a TV talent and spearheading digital and printed publications. She has a B.A. in Journalism and Public Communication from the University of Puerto Rico, and a Juris Doctor from the University of Puerto Rico Law School.

Innovation and Investment Manager, Invest Puerto Rico

Brian Bourgerie

Brian is a serial entrepreneur with a passion for building collaborative communities that positively impact the economy. Much of his career has revolved around launching tech companies, online investment platforms, and advising blockchain projects. These experiences along with the active networks of entrepreneurs and investors he’s developed provides him with a unique perspective and ability to innovate in areas such as technology, finance, and economic development. He currently leads efforts in Innovation, Investment, and Entrepreneurship for Invest Puerto Rico based out of their San Juan Office.

General Manager, Trend Media Group

Mark Corrigan

Mark Corrigan has over 12 years’ experience working in digital advertising, media and production.

Mark’s extensive knowledge of digital advertising stems from his work with some of the largest global publishers and ad networks including BBC, The Guardian, MSN, Yahoo, Outbrain, The Irish Times, Verizon Media, Vice, Tumblr and multiple indigenous Irish publishers.

Across these publisher and ad networks, Mark has worked with the biggest spending advertisers across multiple industries providing bespoke solutions. Mark’s specialities lie in programmatic advertising, branded content, premium publisher alignment, brand identity, and data monetisation.

Mark has also held voluntary Chairman Positions for various IAB (Interactive Advertising Bureau) councils, most recently the Digital Audio, Mobile and the Video council. As part of this, Mark has spoken at many flagship industry events in Europe.
Since moving to The Caribbean market, Mark is General Manager and a Director of Trend Media. Part of Digicel Group, Trend Media provide companies with performance marketing, creative solutions and publisher alignment. Trend Media are partnering with leading publishers in The Caribbean to create a new Publisher Alliance to help promote and protect the Caribbean digital media industry via 1st party data innovations.

Senior Associate, RMI - Islands Energy Program

Max LainFiesta

Max joined the Islands Team at RMI as a Senior Associate in June 2020 after completing his PhD in Sustainable Energy Systems Engineering at Texas A&M University Kingsville. He has previously been a project manager at ENERSOL in Guatemala where he managed a team designing, installing and servicing sustainable energy solutions including hybrid diesel solar microgrids. Max also held the position of project engineer at E Shop in Guatemala where he oversaw design and sale of backup power systems for mission critical applications.

Regional Pacific NDC Hub Focal Point Officer in Charge of Climate Change, Ministry of Economy, Fijian Government

Kushaal K. Raj

Co-Founder and Chairman of Powerledger

Dr. Jemma Green

Head of Policy Programs and Regional Initiatives, Alliance for Financial Inclusion (AFI)

Eliki Boletawa

Eliki Boletawa is Head of Policy Programs and Regional Initiatives at the Alliance for Financial Inclusion (AFI), a global network of policymakers and regulators working towards inclusive finance for all, from more than 90 emerging markets and developing countries. His work includes leading and managing the global policy working groups and regional initiatives implementation of the network. The policy working groups provide policy guidance on financial inclusion through policy models and facilitate knowledge generation and policy insights on emerging financial inclusion topics. Prior to joining AFI, Eliki spent more than a decade working for the Reserve Bank of Fiji, where he held various management positions. Eliki holds a Master of Applied Finance from Victoria University of Wellington in New Zealand, a Bachelor of Arts degree in Business & Post Graduate Diploma in Development Studies from the University of the South Pacific.

Renewable Energy Insurance Specialist, GIB Insurance Brokers (South Africa)

Tanya Van der Westhuizen

Honorary Mayor of Saint-Pierre and former Senator of the Republic of France

Karine Claireaux

Honorary Mayor of Saint-Pierre and former Senator of the Republic of France

Karine Claireaux is a recipient of the French Customs Service Medal of honour. She has worked as a government official with the French Customs Service since 1981 and was seconded for elective duties from April 2000 to August 2020.

Karine has served as a Town Councillor of Saint-Pierre since 1983. She became the Deputy Mayor of Saint-Pierre from 1989 to 2001 and was in charge of social and maritime and port issues. She was elected Mayor of Saint-Pierre in 2001, reelected in 2008 and then again in 2014. During the successive mandates, between 2014 and 2020, a voluntary waste management policy was set up. The ‘Zero Waste’ policy has earned the town of Saint-Pierre three Eco-Mayors awards, in recognition of the voluntarism and originality of the project.

Karine served as Vice-President of the General Council from 2000 to 2006. From 2011 to 2017 she was a Senator of Saint-Pierre and Miquelon. She was a member of the Local Finance Committee, from 2009 to 2016.

Karine has been a member of the Overseas Maritime Committee, in charge of developing a sustainable local maritime policy, since its creation in 2010, up to 2021. She has been a member of the monitoring committee for the Ocean Round Table since 2009. She has been a member of the French Agency for Biodiversity (now the French Office for Biodiversity) since its creation.

Since 2012, Karine has been a member of ANEL, the National Association of Elected Officials of the Coast, an association bringing together elected officials of coastline municipalities. From 2013 to 2021, she has been a member of the CNML, the National Council of the Sea and Coastal Zone. She served as President of the Board of the CNML from November 2014 to February 2021. Karine is a member of the France Maritime Committee, which brings together the maritime economic sectors and the public authorities.

She has been a member of the Compost plus Network since 2014 and was the Network President from November 2019 to February 2021. The aim of this Network is to increase the separate collection of bio-waste, as well as to promote the sector and the production of quality compost.

Karine was the Vice-President of the CNPEOM, the National Commission for the Evaluation of Overseas State Policies, from May 2013 to September 2017. She was Secretary-General of the Executive Board of the IGPOM, the Parliamentary Intergroup on Overseas territories from May 2013 to September 2017, and the Vice-President of the Senate Overseas Delegation from September 2014 to September 2017. She is a founding member (1992) of the Lions Club International.

President, International Small Islands Studies Association (ISISA); and Malta Ambassador-at-large for Islands and Small States

Godfrey Baldacchino PhD

Godfrey Baldacchino PhD (Warwick), BA (Gen.) (Malta), PGCE (Malta), MA (The Hague) is Professor of Sociology, Department of Sociology at the University of Malta, Malta. He served as an Island Studies Teaching Fellow, UNESCO co-Chair and Canada Research Chair in Island Studies at the University of Prince Edward Island (UPEI), Canada, between 2003 and 2020. He is founding Executive Editor of Island Studies Journal (ISSN:1715-2593), and since 2018 founding Executive Editor of Small States & Territories journal (ISSN:2616-8006). He served as Visiting Professor of Island Tourism at the Universita’ di Corsica Pascal Paoli, France (2012-2015). He was Member and Chair of the Malta Board of Cooperatives (1994-2003) and core member of the Malta-European Union Steering & Action Committee (MEUSAC). In 2008-2010, he was Vice-President of the Prince Edward Island Association for Newcomers to Canada. In 2014, he was elected President of the International Small Islands Studies Association (ISISA). In June 2015, he was elected Chair of the Scientific Board of RETI, the global excellence network of island universities. In 2021, he was appointed (thematic) Malta Ambassador for islands and small states. He served as Pro-Rector for International Development and Quality Assurance (2016-2021) during the first Rectorate of Professor Alfred Vella at the University of Malta.

His research interests include: island studies, small state studies, political geography, sociology of work, international relations, island tourism, entrepreneurship, brain rotation, immigration, labour relations, human resource management, adult education, worker empowerment and the development of cooperatives.

Prof. Baldacchino has (co-)authored or (co-)edited some 50 books, reports and monographs; and has authored, since 1993, some 160 peer-reviewed journal articles or book chapters.

Prof. Baldacchino`s work has appeared in French, German, Italian, Japanese, Korean, Portuguese and Swedish (and apart from English and Maltese).

Founder and Managing Partner, Exolta Capital Partners

Russell Dalgleish

Loan Program Officer, US Department of Energy

Michael Grimm

President, Accurate Solutions PR

Roberto Acosta

Fund Manager, Asia-Pacific Climate Finance Fund (ACliFF), Asian Development Bank

Josh Ling

President of the Board, Fundación Borincana

Alejandro Uriarte

Business Development Director, CH4 Systems

Carlos Varady

Azores DMO Coordinator, Government of the Azores

Carolina Mendonça

Join the conversation: