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  • Writer's pictureMary Clare Freeman

Launch of the Futures Forward Academy

The Office of the Commissioner for Sustainable Development and Future Generations of HM Government of Gibraltar is excited to announce an upcoming webinar on the future of sustainability featuring a talk by Juan Verde on “Climate and Leadership in the Biden-Harris Administration,” and a conversation with Gibraltar sustainability experts Minister for Sustainability, Professor John Cortes, Commissioner for Sustainable Development and Future Generations, Professor Daniella Tilbury, and UNECE Youth Delegate, Tammy Randall, for the official launch of Gibraltar’s Futures Forward Academy (FFA).

FFA is a youth-led sustainability training program conceived under the Minister of Sustainability, Professor John Cortes, to further Gibraltar’s long-term sustainability goals. Professor Cortes comments “The Futures Forward Academy highlights the government’s continued commitment to youth engagement and sustainable practice.The initiative is a life-changing opportunity [for youth] for personal development, building professional networks and engaging with others in the local community.”

The event will take place on the 11th of March at 16:00pm CET (10:00 EST). This launch event is proudly co-hosted by Alamo Solutions and The Gibraltar American Chamber of Commerce.

The event will begin with a talk by Alamo Solution’s founder and president Juan Verde, who will discuss the presidential transition to the Biden administration in the U.S. and the effect it will have globally on sustainability and climate change in the coming years.

President Biden has already made tackling climate change a priority in his first few weeks as president, immediately re-enrolling the U.S. in the Paris Climate Accord to show the world that the U.S. aims to be a leader in taking ambitious action to confront the climate crisis. In addition, he has created a new position titled the Special Presidential Envoy for Climate, which will have a seat on the National Security Council. Furthermore, President Biden has committed to empowering American workers and businesses to lead a clean energy revolution that achieves a carbon pollution-free power sector by 2035 and puts the United States on an irreversible path to a net-zero economy by 2050. Among the multiple forward-looking initiatives put forth by the Biden administration regarding this issue, the decision to appoint young individuals to positions devoted entirely to combating climate change demonstrates not only a commitment to the cause in the present but also for generations to come.

Having advised both the Obama and Biden campaigns on international trade and sustainability-related issues, Juan Verde knows the importance of working collaboratively across borders to combat climate change and ensure a sustainable path forward, not just for the U.S., but globally. In addition, Verde has extensive experience in the public and private sectors, having previously served in the Obama administration as Deputy Assistant Secretary for Europe and Eurasia at the United States Department of Commerce. He is also an internationally renowned corporate strategist, specializing in innovative solutions to sustainability problems.

Juan Verde will be followed by a conversation with Professor Daniella Tilbury. Professor Tilbury is a change-maker and leader in sustainable development credited with having developed the initial frameworks for this area of learning. She has acted as an advisor to governments in China, Latin America, and Oceania as well as traveled extensively in Asia and Africa to evaluate the impact of sustainability programmes. Professor Tilbury was a member of the Board of WWF Australia that created Earth Hour and is involved in international initiatives that inspire transitions towards sustainability. She is the UK government’s UNECE focal point on matters relating to education and sustainable development.

Before becoming Commissioner, she was the inaugural Vice-Chancellor and CEO of the University of Gibraltar. Previously, she held numerous research leadership positions in Hong Kong, Australia, and the UK. She has been recognised with over 34 awards and is a Marie Curie International Fellow. Recently, Professor Tilbury was recognised with an Hon. Fellowship by Cambridge University and a Doctor Honoris Causa by the University of Girona for her contributions to sustainability.

Professor Tilbury will be joined by Academy Project Lead, Tammy Randall. Tammy was appointed UNECE Youth Delegate in October 2020. In this role she forms part of the UNECE Working Group and contributes to the 2030 UNECE Strategy. At the local level, Tammy works towards bringing younger voices to policy-making and creating opportunities for youth on key sustainability issues.

Previously, Tammy represented Gibraltar at the 2018 Commonwealth Youth Forum and Commonwealth Youth Parliament. She has an extensive International experience, having lived and studied in Brussels, Washington D.C, and Warsaw. She holds an MA in European Interdisciplinary Studies from the College of Europe and BA in International Relations and French from Exeter University. As Tammy can attest, galvanizing young leaders to step into important roles that address the issue of climate change is critical and is precisely what the Futures Forward Academy aims to accomplish. Tammy commented, “[Futures Forward Academy] is an essential step in promoting the voice of youth across all sectors and levels of decision-making.”

The Futures Forward Academy is a leadership programme relevant to young people aged between 20 and 30 who wish to play a role in creating a sustainable future for Gibraltar. Gibraltar has already demonstrated a commitment to sustainability with key programs such as Green Gibraltar: a rethinking of travel in a post-pandemic world in a way that promotes both safety and sustainability. Developed against a backdrop of the health crisis arising from the Covid-19 pandemic, economic challenges that arise from Brexit, as well as the climate emergency, this Academy will support future leaders as they learn to adapt to such unforeseen challenges and prepare for complex future scenarios.

The Academy presents a means of unlocking the potential of young leaders and fostering their active role in key sustainability issues. As individuals, they will develop the know-how to inform and influence change and the ability to see the ‘bigger picture’. As a cohort, they gain a collaborative support network of equally driven change-makers. Participants will represent a new generation of leaders who understand the need for strategic engagement and planning for the future and who will carry on the promise of Gibraltar’s commitment to a sustainable way forward.

Professor Tilbury explains “It is now more urgent than ever before that we invest in future generations. The initiative seeks to bridge the gap between ambition and capability which young people are often faced with. It is an opportunity for our future government, business, and community leaders to transform how they conceive and manage for the future.”

To attend the talk with Juan Verde, Minister John Cortes, Professor Daniella Tilbury, and Tammy Randall, in addition to the launch of the Futures Forward Academy, please register in advance here.

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