First-ever Virtual Island Summit continuesWednesday, October 09, 2019
BY ALEXIS MONTEITH
T hree Jamaican entrepreneurs and professionals are participating in the first-ever Virtual Island Summit, which started on October 6th and runs until October 10th. The online summit is hosted by Island Innovation, an organisation working with diverse island communities around the world to advance innovative solutions for sustainable development and establish digital bridges between far-flung islands.
“The Virtual Island Summit will recreate an in-person conference experience to the extent possible, maximising opportunities to exchange information between attendees,” explained James Ellsmoor, founder of Island Innovation. “Not only that, but we are avoiding greenhouse gas emissions by moving to an online platform – demonstrating how technology can now be used to eliminate the need for much business travel.”
Jamaican participants include Suzanne Shaw, founding director and impact investment lead at The LEAP Co; Tara Carroll, owner, the Cove Cool-out Restaurant & Bar; and Devon Gardener, programme manager for energy and head of the energy unit at the Caribbean Community Secretariat.
Shaw will be on a panel discussing 'Financing A Blue-Green Economy For Islands', focused on the need for islands to have more climate-resilient economies, while Carroll's panel will be exploring 'A New Blue Economy For Islands', centred on sustainability.
Gardener will be participating in 'Global Practices, Challenges And Opportunities In Energy Storage For Islands And For Small Island Developing States (SIDS)', which is a webinar concentrating on the need for improving access to and the integration of clean and renewable energy systems.
“We have had a phenomenal response from Jamaicans joining the summit as participants,” said Ellsmoor. “Jamaica is definitely the best-represented country in the Caribbean and has one of the highest participation rates of any country in the world”.
“We have been so pleased to learn from the contributions of Jamaican colleagues, and hope that there will also be lessons learned for Jamaica from other parts of the world,” he added.
The summit also features representatives from places as diverse as Fiji, Greenland, Madagascar, the Isle of Man, Mauritius, Taiwan, Tierra del Fuego, Cape Verde and Japan. Topics to be covered include journalism, communications, geopolitics, cultural preservation, sustainable development, and other areas relevant to island communities.
The Organisation of Eastern Caribbean States (OECS) is the lead sponsor of the event and the director general of the OECS, Dr Didacus Jules, expressed his full support for the initiative.
“The time for collective action as island states, and especially small island developing states, is now,” he said. “For many of us, the devastating effects of climate change and extreme weather events, such as 'turbocharged' hurricanes and sea level rise, are already a reality that is imposing socio-economic challenges for our people and communities.
“This virtual summit reminds us that we are not facing these challenges alone,” he continued. “The diversity in participating island nations and speakers from around the world also provides a unique opportunity to create a global digital alliance of island communities, geared towards innovative solutions for our shared vulnerabilities.”
Ellsmoor, creator of the summit, expressed his satisfaction at the response to the event and believes the summit has been successful in advancing its objectives.
“It has been amazing to see the interactions between places as far-flung as Jamaica, Greenland, Patagonia, Fiji and the Seychelles, and the useful interactions that can occur from building digital bridges between these islands,” Ellsmoor enthused. “Our Caribbean participants have made a useful contribution to show the world the creativity and innovation from the region.”