The Cayman Islands will host hundreds of young world leaders next year at a special international summit on the topic of sustainable finance.
Dart Cayman Islands announced Thursday that it will host the One Young World Sustainable Finance Summit at the Kimpton Seafire Resort + Spa from Nov. 16 to 18, 2016.
One Young World, founded in 2009, is a global forum for young leaders ages 18 to 30 which allows them to share ideas and develop solutions to urgent global issues related to anything from peace and security, human rights, business and the environment.
The summit, often referred to as a “young Davos,” is supported by numerous world leaders who often appear as speakers. Sir Richard Branson, Kofi Annan, Bob Geldof and Nobel Peace Prize winner Muhammad Yunus are just some of the famous names who frequently appear on One Young World’s stages.
The sustainable finance summit, the first-ever One Young World summit to focus exclusively on this topic, will bring 500 young world leaders and many notable speakers to the Cayman Islands to discuss the ways young people can drive financial policy and ensure that governments and businesses take action to create more sustainable business markets.
Dart Enterprises CEO Mark VanDevelde said in a press release that recruiting and sponsoring a prestigious conference such as One Young World aligns with the company’s vision to “have the world to recognize the Cayman Islands as a global centre of excellence and innovation.”
Mr. VanDevelde said the One Young World Summit on sustainable finance will provide an “incredible, once-in-a-lifetime opportunity for our young future leaders to interact with peers from around the globe right here at home,” in addition to creating compelling reasons for people around the world to learn more about the Cayman Islands, and have a substantial positive impact on the tourism economy.
Dart helped bring the summit to the Cayman Islands through discussions with One Young World co-founder David Jones, who will be a guest speaker at Dart’s Alternative Investment Summit in February.
The sustainable finance summit will be the second One Young World International Summit, a smaller offshoot of the One Young World Global Summit which brings together 1,300 young leaders annually. Chris Duggan, vice president and head of community development at Dart Enterprises, said Dart also has a “vision to bring the global summit to the Cayman Islands” and will be talking to the organizers about potentially launching a bid to host the 2020 summit.
Dart also took two young Caymanians, Madeleine Rowell and Julian Solomon, to the One Young World Global Summit in Bangkok, Thailand, last month. Ms. Rowell and Mr. Solomon are recipients of the William A. Dart Memorial scholarship.
Ms. Rowell, 19, is a sophomore at Stanford University where she studies philosophy and feminist, gender and sexuality studies, in addition to pursuing an honors course in ethics in society. At the summit in Bangkok, she enjoyed attending sessions which focused on such topics as women’s rights, sexual well-being and reproductive health.
“There was a reproductive health advocate that spoke about the stigma surrounding sex in the Caribbean, which really resonated with me,” Ms. Rowell said. “I’m a huge advocate for more comprehensive sex education in Cayman, as well as better access to contraception, abortion, etc. Promoting safe sex and better access to sexual health resources is so incredibly important to the future of our country and the world.”
The sessions aligned well with Ms. Rowell’s work at university, and with a project she will be pursuing next year which aims to empower victims of sexual assault on college campuses.
Ms. Rowell said that while she is still figuring out what the future holds for her, she is pursuing a career in advocacy. She said the connections she made from One Young World will be useful, regardless of where her career path takes her.
“The conference reminded me how important it is to get out of our comfort zones and learn from people who are different from us,” Ms. Rowell said. “Cayman is very much its own little bubble, which can be great, but also very limiting when it comes to understanding other cultures and people who [have] very different values than us.”
Mr. Solomon said that meeting young leaders was “inspiring, uplifting and “motivating.” The 21-year-old, who studies business management at King’s College in London, enjoyed participating in two breakout sessions, one on Islam and democracy and one on the history of banking in Asia.
He said that, most of all, the experience of attending the conference “reinforced the need for action.”
“The main takeaway from the conference for myself was the fact that people have to recognize that they are capable of playing a greater role in society and have a responsibility to do so,” Mr. Solomon said. “Especially in a society such as Cayman’s, the role every citizen plays in problem solving is vital to our prosperity. We must not see this responsibility as a burden, but for what it is, a privilege and honor to be embraced and aspire to.”
Mr. Solomon said it is “fantastic” that Cayman is hosting the upcoming sustainable finance summit, and that Dart is considering bidding to bring the larger summit to the country in the future.
“We need to undertake ambitious projects that will introduce Cayman to current and future world leaders, allow us to play a role in global solutions, and expose our Caymanian leaders to all of these benefits,” he said.