Building a healthy, resilient and zero carbon future is essential for the survival of islands in the wake of the global climate crisis. Such a task requires sustained, collective and coordinated efforts between various entities including international organizations, national governments, civil society, and the private sector. This panel features experts from a variety of sectors to discuss how islands can work together in the Race to Net-Zero.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.