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Leave No One Behind: Building an equitable and inclusive recovery for island communities

Session Replay



The relevance of putting the spotlight on inequalities for more equitable societies in island nations has been reaffirmed considering the disparate socio-economic effects of the COVID-19 pandemic. As the world continues to transition into the post-pandemic era, addressing inequalities in island communities will require a holistic analysis of complex and often overlapping dimensions, which go far beyond the surface variables of income and wealth distribution.


Founder & CEO, Island Innovation

James Ellsmoor

James Ellsmoor is the Founder & CEO of Island Innovation, a communications agency focused on the need of island communities. He has a passion for sustainable development and renewable energy, particularly applications for rural and isolated communities. Last year he ran the inaugural Virtual Island Summit, which brought together 4,000 participants from Scotland to Samoa to share stories about their communities. James has always used technology to advance his mission, allowing him to live and work anywhere and manage a team spread over 4 continents. Island Innovation focuses on bringing together NGOs, the private sector, universities and government with projects covering topics including lithium extraction, climate change and public policy.
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).

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.

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.

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