SINT MAARTEN/ST. THOMAS – Former US Secretary of State Hilary Clinton conducted a one on one interview with Prime Minister Leona Romeo Marlin at the Plenary Session themed “Leaders on the Frontlines of Climate Change” at the Clinton Global Initiative (CGI) Action Network on Post-Disaster Recovery that was held on St. Thomas on June 3rd and 4th.
A description of the session on “Leaders on the Frontlines of Climate Change” from the CGI website reads as follows. “The Caribbean is being fundamentally altered by climate change, forcing governments, businesses and NGOs to build new and more resilient infrastructure, economies and societies.
“On the frontlines of these large-scale changes are community leaders and organizers who are tasked with the difficult job of building resilience at the community-level. How do faith-based leaders help shepherd their congregations towards adopting more resilient lifestyles? How do artisans and cultural stewards shift perspectives on climate adaptability?
“How do educators teach resilience to a new generation of students who are already facing the realities of a warming planet? In this plenary session, speakers will discuss how to foster strong and resilient community leaders and members, inspire the adoption of climate-smart actions, and incorporate a diversity of perspectives and voices into disaster response and preparedness efforts.”
Prime Minister Romeo-Marlin in her one and one interview with former US Secretary of State Hilary Clinton answered a number of questions that covered topics including the recovery process almost two years following the Hurricane Irma. The leaders also discussed the biggest areas of concern on Sint Maarten as it relates to climate change, the key initiatives, and the priorities being worked on to advance the goal of becoming a resilient nation.
“I felt the interview with Madame Secretary Clinton went very well, I was able to share a number of important topics and initiatives that are important to Sint Maarten and I must say The Clinton Global Initiative conference hosted by the Clinton Foundation is very impressive. It is one of the first conferences that I have been to where public and private partnerships were promoted.
The approach is clear-cut, an issue or problem is identified, the solution is discussed and agreed upon and finally an investor is found who secures the funding to carry the necessary work”, said Prime Minister Romeo-Marlin.
The mission of the Clinton Global Initiative (CGI) is to turn ideas into action. Established in 2005 by President Bill Clinton, the Clinton Global Initiative convenes global and emerging leaders to create and implement solutions to the world’s most pressing challenges.
As it relates to Climate Change and making Sint Maarten SMART & Resilient, Prime Minister Romeo-Marlin also expressed, “There is a lot of work ahead of us, preparing for climate change requires us to rethink our approach to our economic and social strategy. We must begin to have an open dialogue on what the possible effects can be and start the process of seeking viable solutions to mitigate any possible damage to our beloved country Sint Maarten in the future.
“First and foremost we must put the needs of the people first, continue to take initiatives to build resiliency on the island. Simultaneously we must continue on the path of building meaningful Partnerships with regional and international organizations”, said Prime Minister Romeo-Marlin while reflecting on her experience at the CGI.
The entire interview of Prime Minister Leona Romeo-Marlin and former US Secretary of State Hilary Clinton can be seen on the Clinton Foundation Facebook page under the video tag – “Leaders on the Frontlines of Climate Change” (the last 25 minutes).
Additionally, during the working visit to St Thomas, Prime Minister Leona Romeo-Marlin also met with Darryl Jaschen Director of Virgin Islands Territorial Emergency Management Agency VITEMA. Prime Minister Romeo-Marlin toured the operation center, and learned about the emergency planning, emergency structure and communication tools and mechanisms used in the event of a disaster in the USVI.
The Prime Minister also met with Jacqueline Heyliger FEMA Region II, US Virgin Islands Recovery Director, during the meeting parties discussed the role of the US Federal Government with respect to disaster response and the various programs carried by FEMA in the USVI.