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.