Last week marked a turning point for the Caribbean2030 initiative. Convened in 2015 with the aim of encouraging innovative thinking for the Caribbean region, the diverse, forward-thinking group gathered for the second time in the UK at Wilton Park (West Sussex). The aim of this third session was to define, as the new Caribbean2030 Leaders’ Network, a series of targets and strategies to achieve tangible results by its next meeting in a year’s time.
The genesis of the network, as explained by economist Dr. Damien King, Co-Executive Director of the Kingston-based Caribbean Policy Research Institute (CAPRI), is the realization that “we may need to conceive of a vision for the Caribbean beyond what the existing institutional structures are designed for”.
It is therefore to bring together new and next generations of Caribbean leaders and build an entrepreneurial spirit of collaboration across the region that a first Caribbean2030 meeting was convened in June 2015 with politicians, innovators, entrepreneurs, education leaders, communications specialists, diaspora members and more.
The initiative was led by Wilton Park, an executive agency of the UK Foreign and Commonwealth Office (FCO), which specializes in convening high-level foreign policy dialogues and CAPRI, in partnership with the FCO itself, the Caribbean Council, and JN Foundation. Through their discussions, the group identified a vision for the Caribbean of a peaceful, self-sufficient, globally competitive and resilient region which would drive the group’s work for the next five years.
A second session held in Kingston, Jamaica, saw the group zoom in on four priority areas, namely IT Infrastructure & Open Data, Trade Within & Beyond the Caribbean, Green Growth, and Finance, Credit and Business Growth. This session concluded with aspirations being defined within these four areas.
Returning to Wilton Park, the third and latest Caribbean 2030 meeting, held from October 12-14, focused on two of the priority themes: IT Infrastructure and Open Data towards Good Governance, and Green Growth. Priority was given – as a strategy was outlined through a full schedule of working groups and plenary sessions – to initiatives with high potential for impact, enabled by leveraging the skills and networks available within the group as well as the research published by CAPRI in both areas, which will serve as a theoretical basis for evidence-based action.
Open Data, defined as the “proactive release of Government Data in a format that can be freely used, reused and redistributed by anyone for any purpose”, has been instrumental, where adopted, in improving efficiency within administrations, as well as ensuring accountability within government structures. It has also been a driver for entrepreneurship, providing emerging services with the data needed to best tailor their product to the needs of an ever-evolving market, as well as for job creation, in light of the need for the provided data to be analyzed.
In order to help build a culture of openness and transparency, the Caribbean2030 Leaders’ Network will, over the course of the next year, be focusing on the following actions prioritized to create a sustainable space for Open Data sharing within the Caribbean region, as well as obtain funding for the establishment of the necessary databases in each country:
1 – Advocating for governments to promulgate Open Data Policy and relevant Access to Information acts where they do not currently exist;
2 – Amplifying the work of the Caribbean Open Institute as it seeks to advance the Open Data agenda across the Caribbean;
3 – Promoting transparency and good governance principles.
Green Growth, the second area of focus, is defined as the means by which the current economy can make the transition to a sustainable economy. In this field, the following targets have been set and divided between members of the new Leaders’ Network:
1 – Advancing Sustainable Waste Management practices through input to styrofoam and plastic policy processes in Jamaica and application of relevant best practices to other Caribbean islands;
2 – Evaluating SDG and BCorp indicators in relation to the Caribbean and adopting/adapting relevant indicators in order to attract sustainable investments to the region;
3 – Evaluating current perverse incentives seen as barriers to green growth and advocating for the elimination of some of those incentives.
The Caribbean Policy Research Institute, which has been instrumental in coordinating the activities of the first three Caribbean2030 meetings, will take on over the course of the next year the role of a Secretariat for the newly-formed Caribbean2030 Leaders’ Network, ensuring accountability throughout the process as well as optimal communication within the group. The Kingston-based think-tank will be setting up the necessary structures for inter-Caribbean collaboration, sharing of relevant information and project tracking for the self-dubbed “do-tank” that is the Caribbean2030 Leaders’ Network, a “new model of stakeholder-focused Caribbean collaboration”, as described in the meeting’s closing remarks by CAPRI Co-Executive Director, Imani Duncan-Price.