Future Forum – Day 2

Future Forum – Day 2

Take a look inside Day 2 of Future Forum. We explored Technology, Agriculture, and Arts and Culture, and found exciting ways to build the future we need. Access the sessions by following the links below.

Future Forum – Day 2

Future Forum – Day 1 Recap

Take a look inside Day 1 of Future Forum. We explored Education, Energy, and Equality, and found exciting ways to build the future we need. Access the sessions by following the links below.

Future Forum – Day 2

Exploring an Unlimited Future – Carina Cockburn

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

The Honourable Stuart R. Young – Future Forum

Address by The Honourable Stuart R. Young, MP Minister of Energy and Energy Industries And Minister in the Office of the Prime Minister at the Inaugural Future Forum hosted by The Heroes Foundation and the Inter-American Development Bank (IDB)


Honourable Ministers,

Mr. Lawrence Arjoon, CEO of the Heroes Foundation,

Ms. Carina Cockburn, IDB Country Representative,

My fellow presenters,

And last but not least, all of the youth participants in today’s Future Forum

Good morning.

I am honoured to have been invited to participate in the inaugural Future Forum hosted by the Heroes Foundation and the Inter-American Development Bank (IDB). I wholeheartedly commend the Heroes Foundation and the IDB for taking the initiative to empower the youth of Trinidad and Tobago and for the continued investment in the people of our country. I am heartened to see so many leaders taking the time to share their knowledge, and just as many young people willing to learn from them. Today, I wish to share with you my knowledge and perspective on the future of the energy sector, including the impact of climate change, the need for sustainability and the availability of career opportunities.

I am sure that many of you may have heard about climate change, perhaps on the news or in your classrooms. Trinidad and Tobago, as a Small Island Developing State, is particularly vulnerable to the effects of climate change, such as more intense hurricane seasons. The question is what does this have to do with energy and the future of the energy sector? Over the past hundred years and more, fossil fuels, namely coal, oil and natural gas, have been the dominant source of energy and are also the major source of greenhouse gases. Greenhouse gas emissions are responsible for the acceleration of climate change and its adverse affects.

As a consequence, the global community including Trinidad and Tobago has committed to reduce greenhouse gas emissions. We have set a target of a 15% reduction in carbon dioxide emissions from the energy sector by 2030. Other countries have established individual targets. To achieve their goals, countries including Trinidad and Tobago, as part of their strategies are adopting renewable energy sources such as solar, wind, hydro and geothermal as these forms of energy emit no greenhouse gas emissions. Trinidad and Tobago by 2022 would have its first major renewable project, which is a Solar Utility Project between affiliates of BPTT and Shell. It is projected that by 2050 renewable energy sources will comprise 26% of the world’s primary energy needs and will continue to eclipse fossils fuels as the main primary energy source. The ultimate goal is to achieve a carbon neutral position in which there is no net release of carbon dioxide into the atmosphere.

With increased penetration of renewable energy in the energy mix, there will a need for persons involved in the design, manufacture and installation of renewable energy systems, qualified electricians and research and development personnel to name a few. The demand for these skills will soon become apparent with the completion of the country’s first major solar project scheduled for 2022. The power from the solar project is to be used to produce green hydrogen as feedstock for ammonia production. We are currently undertaking a feasibility study for producing green hydrogen on an industrial scale as part of our transitioning to a green economy. This is in keeping with the global movement which has been fuelled by special funding arrangements. From a career prospective, the increased investment will lead to a growth in renewable energy jobs which in 2019 stood at 11.5 million and is projected to grow to 42 million jobs by 2050.

During the transition to renewable energy sources, measures such as Carbon Capture, Utilization and Storage are being explored by countries. Trinidad and Tobago has established a committee to investigate the potential to capture carbon dioxide emissions from our various industrial processes and to utilize it in other processes, including enhanced oil recovery.

As I speak about the future of the energy sector, you may wonder what it all means for you. Whatever the shape of the future energy sector, qualified personnel will continue to be a key feature. Understandably, the accelerated transition to a carbon neutral world may be a cause for concern for young people who have recently entered hydrocarbon related professions or those who were contemplating such careers. While these concerns are valid, it is projected that fossil fuels will provide 74% of the global primary energy needs in 2050 with natural gas being the fossil fuel with the greatest longevity. Trinidad and Tobago’s energy sector is expected to continue to make a major contribution to the economy during the transitory period. We are about to embark on a series of bid rounds in which acreage onshore and offshore will be offered to energy companies for exploration for oil and gas. So, there will a need for the basic energy sector skills, augmented by skillsets in the latest technology on digitalization, software development, data analytics and robotics.

With increased digitalization and internet-based systems, there is an increasing need for robust cyber security systems. Cyberspace and its underlying infrastructure are vulnerable to a wide range of risks stemming from both physical and cyber threats and hazards. On May 7, 2021 a major US pipeline was forced to shut its entire network after it was hit by a major cyber-attack. This is just one example of the economic damage that can be caused by cyber-attacks. This is a growth area and a career opportunity for persons with a strong interest in programming, good analytical and communication skills.

The downstream industry, which is dominated by petrochemicals, also provides opportunity for persons wishing to pursue a career in the gas processing industry. Trinidad and Tobago is a major producer of ammonia and methanol. While there is a movement to petrochemical production using renewable energy, it is expected the current plants will be relevant for a considerable period.  However, as I indicated before the production of green ammonia is a distinct possibility in the near term and in the longer term we are seeking to establish a hydrogen economy. We are also considering the production of bio-methanol from waste material.

The global movement to a low carbon fuels has created an opportunity for methanol as a marine fuel. Methanol is rich in hydrogen, easy to manage, inexpensive to store and transport, and is a low carbon pathway. This augurs well for the methanol industry in Trinidad and Tobago.

An often-ignored fact is that oil, natural gas and petrochemicals are exported by ships. There is opportunity for persons wishing to make a career in maritime industry whether in a shore-based capacity or offshore. The University of Trinidad and Tobago (UTT) at its Chaguaramas Campus offers courses at the diploma level in Maritime Operations (Engineering/Navigation), a Bachelor of Science Degree in Maritime Operations and Masters of Science Degree in Operational Maritime Management. It is estimated that there will be a need for an additional 89,510 maritime officers by 2026 to operate the world’s merchant fleets. If you are interested in a maritime career I suggest you visit the UTT website to determine the entry requirements.

Today I have only just touched the surface of what the future of the energy sector might look like and the opportunities that it holds for the country’s youth. I expect that the future of energy will continue to be shaped by the need to address the threat of climate change, while ensuring that we can meet growing global energy demands in a sustainable manner. I hope that I have provided some useful information that inspires you to consider the role that you can play in the energy sector.

As I conclude, I wish to sincerely apologize for being unable to be with you to participate in what promises to be an enlightening discussion on the future of the energy sector, but I am certain that you are in capable hands. To our youth participants today, I take this opportunity to remind you that you are the future of Trinidad and Tobago, and each and every one of you here today can be a hero for your country. The future is in your hands. Thank you very much.

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.”