Future Forum – Day 2

An Unlimited Future

Address by Carina Cockburn, Inter-American Development Bank
Country Representative Trinidad and Tobago at the Inaugural Future Forum hosted by The Heroes Foundation and the Inter-American Development Bank (IDB)

Good Morning, Young People!  It’s awesome to be able to participate in this event with the Heroes Foundation, Government Ministers, so many youth leaders, entrepreneurs and change makers and also YOU the participants who are the future of Trinidad & Tobago! 

I work for an organization called the Inter-American Development Bank or IDB for short and we have a mission to IMPROVE LIVES for people of all ages across Latin America and the Caribbean. Through financial and technical support for countries working to reduce poverty and inequality, we help improve health and education, and advance infrastructure. Our aim is to achieve development in a sustainable, climate-friendly way. We provide loans, grants, and technical assistance; and we conduct extensive research. Here in Trinidad and Tobago, we do things like working on preventing the pollution of the rivers, waterways and the sea through the building of treatment plants for human waste; helping to buy fitness equipment for schools to encourage young people to exercise more and avoid getting sick and making it easier for people who want to start a business to get money to do so.

But today I want to talk a little bit about a young person just like you.  Her name is Greta Thunberg and she is from Sweden.  Starting on August 20 2018, Greta who was just 15 at the time decided to skip school and go on strike outside the Swedish parliament holding a sign saying SCHOOL STRIKE FOR CLIMATE (of course, the sign is in Swedish!)…she went there every day during school hours until the Swedish general elections on September 9 2018.  She demanded that Sweden reduce their carbon emissions as they had said they would.  She then said she would go on strike every Friday after the elections until Sweden met their commitment starting an international student protest movement called FridaysForFuture.  By March 2019, there was a global strike with more than 1 million people in 2200 strikes across 125 countries. By September of that same year, the Global Week for Future was held which was a series of 4500 strikes across 150 countries which gathered about 4 million protesters many of them school children.


  • So how did this global movement start?  With one young girl DARING to make a difference! Greta began her protests all by herself since no one else was interested in joining her at that time and her parents were not supportive.
  • After learning about climate change when she was 8, she started to find out more about it and took RESPONSIBILITY in her own life eventually changing her eating habits to stop eating meat and refusing to travel by airplane since both livestock production and airplanes give off large amounts of the gases that contribute to global warming.  So she went by boat to take part in the UN Summit of 2019. 
  • Greta EMPOWERED others through what is now known as the Greta effect….when she started striking, she posted pictures of what she was doing on Instagram and Twitter.  It soon went viral and her call to action was able to mobilize millions of people.  So many others know that they can do it too! 
  • Greta has the right ATTITUDE.  She has been trolled by President Trump on Twitter and criticized by the Russian President and the Brazilian President who called her a brat. In replying to her critics, she said “It’s quite hilarious when the only thing people can do is mock you, or talk about your appearance or personality, as it means they have no argument or nothing else to say.”
  • Greta didn’t allow criticism to distract her from her cause.  She is still MOTIVATED and   committed despite the challenges. For example, she has suffered from depression and has been diagnosed with Asperger’s syndrome which can make it difficult to socialize with others.  But since people with Asperger’s also tend to be able to focus deeply on one idea or interest, she calls it her Superpower which she uses to promote her cause of Climate Change.
  • Just like Greta, you can D.R.E.A.M. too! Be DARING, take RESPONSIBILITY, EMPOWER others, have the right ATTITUDE and stay MOTIVATED! 

At the IDB, Our Dream for Latin America and the Caribbean is called Vision 2025 in which we would like to “Reinvest in the Americas”.  Just like Greta, we are focused on taking Action on Climate Change as part of our goal.  Through our projects and programs, we promote cooperation between countries, using technology in business, support for small businesses and equality for boys and girls and people from different backgrounds.

To learn more about our work, during or after this speech, I am encouraging you to like, follow and share my page on Instagram or Facebook. Look for Carina Cockburn – Country Representative Trinidad & Tobago. The first 100 young people to do so will receive a copy of the book Fall Off, Get Back On, Keep Going by Clare Baldwin which tells the story of Greta and other DREAMERs just like her and YOU!

Welcome to the Future Forum and I am looking forward to hearing about your ideas and dreams for a better Future.

Future Forum – Day 2

Creating a Sustainable Future for Youth

Address by Lawrence J. Arjoon, Chief Executive Officer, The Heroes Foundation at the Inaugural Future Forum hosted by The Heroes Foundation and the Inter-American Development Bank (IDB).

Good morning, everyone, and welcome to Future Forum.

As dr. Eric Williams rightly said, the future of our nation is in our children’s school bags.

Today, we bring that future to your fingertips. 

This first of its kind event in Trinidad and Tobago will put you, the youth of Trinidad and Tobago, at the centre of development discussion to help create the future we need.

The future of our nation is at our fingertips

To be shaped by the dreams of our youth,

To be guided by the wisdom of those who have paved our way,

To be empowered by the responsibilities vested in our leaders.

This collaborative, multigenerational approach will help ensure that we benefit from all our years of learnings and excellence, while being propelled forward with the innovation, ease of access, and countless opportunities that technology provides.

It’s no secret that our younger generations are excelling with the use of technology.

This is their life. This is their world.  And we must ensure that they are supported and empowered.

Just as Trinidad and Tobago became a global leader in energy, so too can we become a global leader in technology, agriculture, equality, education, arts and culture, but we must listen to our youth, we must hear their thoughts and ideas, we must put the right systems in place to learn from our past mistakes, from our compliancy, from where we may not have gotten it quite right.  We can take all that learnings, combine them with all the opportunities available, and build the Trinidad and Tobago, and world that we need.

The Heroes Foundation is a development centre for youth leadership and mentorship.

We support the psychosocial and educational needs of youth; empowering them to successfully transition in an evolving world, and to meaningfully contribute as global citizens to a peaceful, just, and sustainable society.

I started at Heroes in March 2020.  Two weeks later, COVID-19 hit our shores.  Our team worked tirelessly over the next two weeks to transition all our in-person programmes to online delivery.

We provided tablets to participants, and trained students, parents, and teachers to learn the different technology tools available to operate in a technology-driven world.

We changed our programme delivery styles, incorporating gamified learning tools, and online resources to help participants learn better in their new environment.

We had to pivot to provide more psychosocial support for youth as well because they have been hit hard by this pandemic.

I salute our Heroes Team today, because it was through their courage in the face of their unknown, their commitment to the youth in our programmes, and their dedication to development that allowed us to keep  400 programme participants engaged and supported during this pandemic.

They are the true heroes of this foundation.

And while we continue to do all that we can to support youth, there are many who are not able to benefit from the opportunities available to them.

Many who do not have devices, internet, or even electricity.

Many who are working to help support their families hit hard by this pandemic.

Many looking for a safe space for support, to feel heard, to feel loved.

We at Heroes will continue to do what we can and what we must to ensure that these youth, the future of our nation, are reached, supported, encouraged, and empowered to make positive impacts on our society.

Before we move into the rest of today’s proceedings, I would like to especially thank our Board of Directors, who volunteer their time, talents, and treasure to support all that we do at Heroes. 

I personally want to thank them for their faith in me, their support, and their guidance.  Having such a team of renowned professionals willing to empower a 30-year-old as CEO of an organisation, to encourage, advise, counsel, and trust, has truly been remarkable.

They believe in all that Heroes has done over the last 19 years and are putting in the hard work to support our continued transition.

I’d also like to especially thank our founder, Philip Julien, for this dream and vision.

And our chairman, Monty Pemberton, for being a mentor and guide as we work in the interest of youth in Trinidad and Tobago.


That’s the Heroes operating philosophy, and I am pleased to have you all as part of this journey.



27th August, 2021 – Port-of-Spain.  The Inter-American Development Bank and the Heroes Foundation will host a two-day virtual Future Forum on September 2nd and 3rd to connect youth leaders, industry professionals, and government officials in a conversation about the future we need.

The Forum intends to bring young people, primarily aged 11-17 from across Trinidad and Tobago, into the national development conversation to challenge and collaborate to create a better and more sustainable future.

Speakers include Minister of Energy and Energy Industries, Stuart Young, Minister of Agriculture, Lands and Fisheries, Clarence Rambharat, and Minister of Youth Development and National Service, Foster Cummings.

Day one of the Forum will focus on Education, Energy, and Equality, while day two will look at Technology, Agriculture, and Arts and Culture.

IDB Country Representative for Trinidad and Tobago, Carina Cockburn, notes, “This Forum will allow leaders and experts to ensure that our development agenda meets the needs of one of our most important stakeholders – the youth.  Creating a sustainable future requires us to ensure that their voices and views guide our planning and decision making.”

Heroes CEO, Lawrence Arjoon notes, “COVID-19 has profoundly challenged the lives of children and youth around the region.  Future Forum is our way of creating a clear pathway to the possibilities that still exist for youth beyond the pandemic.  This is also their chance to ensure that their voices are heard on issues important to them and to our future.”


Youth Take the Lead in Energy Transition

Youth Take the Lead in Energy Transition

Heroes Foundation brings fresh perspectives to Trinidad and Tobago’s Energy Future

The Heroes Foundation (Heroes) along with the Energy Chamber of Trinidad and Tobago (ECTT) has culminated months of work by the youth of Trinidad and Tobago into a comprehensive report that sets out recommendations for Trinidad and Tobago’s Energy Future. The report is based upon intense discussions and extensive deliberations which were held at the Heroes of Energy Youth Forum as part of the Trinidad and Tobago Energy Conference in February 2020.

Over four hundred secondary school students from across the country explored and debated energy sustainability and a greener industry with energy stalwarts, senior business leaders, energy professionals, and government officials.    The bright, young minds delved into the history of Trinidad and Tobago’s growth as a world-class energy player and explored current challenges, while facilitated session stimulated ideas reflective of modern critical thinking, a youthful intolerance for “business as usual”, and a bold articulation of the future that our youth want for themselves.

The Report captures extensive details of the youth collaboration and highlights the rich exchange of ideas, which include:

  • The need for more accessible information on the energy sector and specifically renewables and conservation opportunities. 
  • The need for greater clarity on the benefits, opportunities, and potential implementation challenges associated with diversifying into renewable energy sources.
  • Greater engagement of the youth population in the energy discourse with access to sector leaders and energy professionals to stimulate interest in careers in energy and inclusive dialogue on industry potential. 
  • The establishment of nationwide youth cohorts to research, create, and share information on energy, water conservation and efficiency, climate change and climate action in schools, homes, and communities. 
  • Leveraging social media to inspire and engage youth interests in energy via messages, art, skits, and presentations to raise awareness.
  • Challenge to government to consider a number of actions for positive action against climate change impacts, including changes to the education curriculum to include energy and climate change; incentives for using renewable energy by capturing wind and hydro power from rivers and seas to generate electricity.
  • A challenge to the Heroes Foundation to consider an education and awareness programme as a focus for action.

In launching the report, the Heroes Foundation CEO, Lawrence Arjoon said, “I believe that an important part of our work at the Foundation, is in youth engagement and education. We must harness passion and steer it into action. This is why we are actively working on a number of new partnerships with the private sector to convert these ideas into reality.”

Click below to read the report.