Official Opening Plenary to the Island Finance Forum 2021

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The Opening Plenary will set the tone and frame the discussions throughout the Island Finance Forum 2021. The plenary will feature keynote addresses from island leaders to discuss the macroeconomic issues facing island communities, with a focus on offering long-term solutions to aid a sustainable and resilient economic future.

Speakers

James Ellsmoor

Founder & CEO, Island Innovation

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.
James Ellsmoor

Founder & CEO, Island Innovation

Hon. Allen Chastanet

Prime Minister of Saint Lucia

A passionate, dedicated, good team player, client-oriented and strategic planner with more than 15 years of relevant experience. This includes 10 years of specific regional experience in climate finance analysis (using the Pacific Climate Change Finance Assessment Framework) and policy advice to Forum Leaders and Economic Ministers in the Pacific region and internationally (United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change Conference of the Parties - UNFCCC COP negotiations on climate finance since COP18). Exsley has strong experience and familiarity with bilateral and multilateral climate funds, including the Green Climate Fund, the Adaptation Fund, the Global Environment Facility and the Climate Investment Fund. I have led multi-agency teams to undertake national climate finance assessments/reviews in the Republic of the Marshall Islands, Republic of Palau, Solomon Islands, Vanuatu, Federated States of Micronesia, Kiribati and TA secondment on climate finance to the Government of Papua New Guinea. I also participated in similar assessments in Nauru and Tonga. Exsley completed leadership trainings in Fiji and Australia, and presented in a number of regional and international meetings on the climate finance context and trends in the Pacific. As Team Leader for the PIFS Climate Change and Resilience team, I oversee a team of 14 staff and a range of short-term consultants as well as a total budget of F$14 million. My scope of oversight include the Framework for Resilient Development in the Pacific (FRDP) and Pacific Resilience Partnership (PRP), private sector engagement in climate finance, disaster risk finance and governance, climate finance-public financial management and climate finance negotiations in the COP.
Hon. Allen Chastanet

Prime Minister of Saint Lucia

Hon. Frank Bainimarama

Prime Minister of Fiji

Frank Bainimarama has been the Fijian Prime Minister since 2007. Under his leadership, Fiji has undergone a broad program of social, economic, electoral and constitutional reforms, leading up to the establishment of Fiji’s first genuine parliamentary democracy of equal votes of equal value in 2014.

The Prime Minister is one of the leading global voices calling on the international community to commit to more ambitious targets to curb the carbon emissions that are warming our planet. Joining his fellow leaders from the Pacific, he is committed to drawing global attention to the impact climate change is having on vulnerable communities, including Pacific Islanders and the residents of other Small Island Developing States (SIDS) and low-lying areas of the world.

Hon. Frank Bainimarama

Prime Minister of Fiji

Hon. Gaston Browne

Prime Minister of Antigua & Barbuda and Chair of the Alliance of Small Island States (AOSIS)

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.

Hon. Gaston Browne

Prime Minister of Antigua & Barbuda and Chair of the Alliance of Small Island States (AOSIS)

Hon. Bob Loughman Weibur

Prime Minister of the Republic of Vanuatu

A member of the Vanua'aku Pati, he was first elected to Parliament as MP for Tanna in the general election on 6 July 2004. He was re-elected in 2008 and 2012. In March 2013, following a change in government, new Prime Minister Moana Carcasses appointed him Minister for Education.Like other members of the Vanua'aku Pati, he crossed the floor on 15 May 2014 to help bring down the Carcasses government. New Prime Minister Joe Natuman maintained Loughman at his post as Minister for Education. He lost office on 11 June 2015 when the Natuman government was ousted in a motion of no confidence.
Since 2018 he is the leader of the Vanua'aku Pati.
Since 20 April 2020, Loughman has been in office as Prime Minister of Vanuatu.
Hon. Bob Loughman Weibur

Prime Minister of the Republic of Vanuatu

Fekitamoeloa Katoa 'Utoikamanu

High Representative, Least Developed Countries, Landlocked Developing Countries and Small Island Developing States, UN-OHRLLS

Ms. Fekitamoeloa Katoa ‘Utoikamanu is the Under-Secretary-General and High Representative for the Least Developed Countries, Landlocked Developing Countries and Small Island Developing States. She assumed her role in May 2017.

Ms. ‘Utoikamanu is responsible for monitoring and following up on the implementation of all three Programmes of Action under the purview of UN-OHRLLS. She is also called on to advocate for the issues and concerns of these vulnerable countries as well as to ensure their integration into and coherence with global processes, including those related to the 2030 Agenda and other global development frameworks. Ms. ‘Utoikamanu also coordinates advocacy work related to the Least Developed Countries (LDCs), Landlocked Developing Countries (LLDCs) and Small Island Developing States (SIDS) in forums and platforms outside the United Nations.

Prior to joining the United Nations, Ms. ‘Utoikamanu was Chief Executive Officer of the Ministry of Tourism, Tonga; Acting Pro-Chancellor and Chair of the Council of the University of the South Pacific (2015); Deputy Pro-Chancellor and Deputy Chair of the Council of the University of the South Pacific (2009-2016); Deputy Director General and Director of Education, Training and Human Development of the Secretariat of Pacific Community (2009-2015); Permanent Representative and Ambassador of the Government of Tonga to the United Nations, United States of America, Cuba and Venezuela and High Commissioner to Canada (2005-2009); and Secretary for Foreign Affairs and European Commission’s National Authorizing Officer for Tonga (2002-2005).

A Tongan national, Ms. ‘Utoikamanu speaks Tongan and English. She holds a Bachelor of Commerce in Economics (1980) and a Masters in Commerce in Economics (1983) from the University of Auckland in New Zealand.

Fekitamoeloa Katoa ‘Utoikamanu

High Representative, Least Developed Countries, Landlocked Developing Countries and Small Island Developing States, UN-OHRLLS

Riad Meddeb

Senior Principal Advisor for Small Island Developing States / Climate Investment Platform Global Lead, UNDP

Seasoned economist and international development professional specializing in trade, investment, migration, and technology innovation to address issues and facilitate decisions of policy makers with over 20 years’ experience working with UN agencies, such as UNDP, UNCTAD and UNITAR – and the ILO and the University of Paris. Extensive experience as an economic and policy advisor to the UN and foreign governments, such as providing assessment and policy advice on economic recovery and livelihoods to support country to mainstream and implement the Sustainable Development Goals. Adept at managing programs and staff, strategic and political savvy, and works in multiple languages. Worked in fragile and post-conflict country contexts and Small Islands Developing States, such as Comoros, MauritiusCambodia, Rwanda, Afghanistan, Guinee, Burkina Faso, etc.
Riad Meddeb

Senior Principal Advisor for Small Island Developing States / Climate Investment Platform Global Lead, UNDP

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