2020 UOG Conference on Island Sustainability


2020 UOG Conference on Island Sustainability

  • CIS 2020 

UN SDG Icons


View and download the highlights booklet here.


Local2030 Islands Network

Opening Session with our Conference Co-chairs

Screen capture image of UOG President Thomas Krise giving opening remarks at the UOG Virtual Conference Series on Island Sustainability

President Thomas Krise shared the status of the University of Guam and how UOG has been responding to the COVID-19 situation in innovative ways, such as migrating classes online and providing logistical support to the health centers with UOG's nursing faculty and students. UOG held a successful virtual telethon, raising $48,000 for masks, gowns, and face shields for health care providers in the frontlines of the pandemic, while also providing musical entertainment, tips on how to grow food in your backyard, and ways to cope with stress.

Screenshot of Governor Lou Leon Guerrero during UOG Virtual Conference Series on Island Sustainability

Governor Lou Leon Guerrero shared how her administration responded quickly and aggressively to put measures in place to slow the spread of the virus and flatten the curve. The administration has been working closely with federal partners and experts such as the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), World Health Organization (WHO), and Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA). The Governor explained how Guam and Micronesia have a lot to contribute to global sustainability based on traditional island wisdom.



Opening Panel: Local2030 Islands Network

Island Platform on COVID-19 Response - Sharing, Support, Solutions
Discussion with Guam, Grenada, UN Foundation, Global Island Parternship, & Hawai'i Green Growth Local2030 HubLocal2030 Panelists
The Local2030 Islands Network principles reflect and foster these approaches. They are to: 
  • Identify local goals to advance the SDGs and strengthen long-term political leadership on sustainable development and climate resilience;
  • Strengthen public-private partnerships that support diverse stakeholders in integrating sustainability priorities into policy and planning;
  • Measure SDG progress through tracking and reporting on locally and culturally informed indicators; and
  • Implement concrete initiatives that build island resilience and a circular economy through locally appropriate solutions, particularly at the water-energy-food nexus.
In the near term, the Local2030 Island Network will provide a space for island solidarity and sharing as we respond to the COVID-19 crisis and regenerate island communities to be stronger and more resilient in the future.    
Over time, the Local2030 Island Network will build on this promoting shared resolve, innovative models, and communities of practice around local and global SDG implementation.   
Find Key Takeaways from the panel at the
Week 1 engagement: 406 directly participated on Zoom; 59+ countries, states, and territories representated; 3,100+ views on social media

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 Clean Energy for a Sustainable Global Future

Henk Rogers
Tetris Entrepreneur and Champion of Clean Energy
Founder and CEO of Blue Planet Foundation

Screeshot of Henk Rogers

After finding success in writing Japan’s first role-playing game and securing the rights to distribute the popular video game, Tetris, Henk Rogers shared his journey of finding his mission in life of ending the use of carbon-based fuel and the start of The Blue Planet Foundation. It started with getting the people of Hawai'i on his side, from elementary students to large businesses, then creating legislation and lobbying. Henk says the biggest success was having Hawaii pass a mandate for 100% renewable energy by 2045. They have since created the Re:Power program helping other states and U.S. territories create their own mandate including New York, California and most recently, Guam.

Energy Lab in the Big Island, Hawai'i

Henk created an energy lab on a 28-acre ranch that serves as a research facility to study sustainability. The energy lab has produced solar panels and battery banks that have been used to power villages and aid with emergency shelters. His latest project is called the Blue Planet Alliance, which strives to have other countries pledge and achieve renewable energy by 2045. The mission of the alliance is simple: To Create A World Where Humanity Lives in Harmony with Nature. Henk also presented a special Certificate of Commitment to Gov. Lou Leon Guerrero, Lt. Governor Joshua Tenorio and the 35th Guam Legislature for committing to make Guam a 100% renewable energy community by 2045. He also welcomed Guam as the newest member of the Blue Planet Alliance and acknowledged the work of island leaders to make the mandate a reality.  

Screenshot of Amanda EllisModerated by the Hon. Amanda Ellis 
(2019 Keynote Speaker)
Director of Global Partnerships, Global Futures Laboratory
Executive Director, Hawai'i and Asia Pacific
Julie Ann Wrigley Global Institute of Sustainability
Arizona State University
Amanda Ellis returned to our 2020 Virtual Conference to introduce her “hero”, Henk Rogers, who she described as a visionary to ending the use of fossil fuels. After negotiating the UN Sustainable Development Goals, Amanda arrived in Hawaii in 2016 and first learned of Henk’s work in getting Hawaii to commit to 100% renewable energy. Amanda thanked Henk for making a huge impact on our planet.    

Resolution Presentation
screenshot of senators Amanda Shelton and Clynt Ridgell

As the main authors of the Public Law 35-46, committing Guam to 100% renewable energy by 2045, Senator Amanda Shelton and Senator Clynt Ridgell presented a legislative resolution to Henk Rogers.
Resolution 325-35 (COR) recognizes Henk Rogers for his commitment to the mission of stewarding the environment most notably through clean energy; and commending him for his service as a global leader and inspiring Guam to be more ambitious in our journey towards reducing our dependency on fossil fuels.
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The Circular Economy

Panel 1- Island Wisdom Looping Back to the Circular Economy

Week 3 Panel 1

Andrew Morlet, the Chief Executive of the Ellen MacArthur Foundation, shared the major role the foundation has played in being a leader in the circular economy. Nate Maynard, a Research Associate of the Chung-hua Institution for Economic Research in Taiwan, spoke of how Taiwan went from a low collection rate of recycling to the highest rates in the world and how island communities can learn from their efforts. Kosi Latu, Director General Secretariat of the Pacific Regional Environment Program, told the audience of a turning point in Samoa when the state hosted the Pacific Games in terms of single-use plastics and suggests promoting tourism with more focus on culture. 

Dr. Rajesh Buch, Director of the Sustainability Practice International Development at Arizona State University, is working closely on the concept of an inclusive circular economy which addresses segments of society that are excluded from the formal economy, underserved, and don’t have access to skills to start a business. Monica Guzman, Executive Director for GUMA, emphasized how sustainability is a major part of Guam’s culture.  

Jackie Marati Moderated by Jackie Marati 
Chairwoman of the Island Sustainability Community
Advisory Board and Senior Vice President/Chief Communications and Corporate Social Responsibility Officer, Bank of Guam



Panel 2- Circular Economy Around the Islands

Week 3 Panel 2

Jerry Winata, Head of Foundation at Bawah Anambas Indonesia, spoke of approaching the circular economy as a nonprofit. Matthew Simpson, CEO of Green Banana Paper in the Federated States of Micronesia, shared how his company uses plant-based banana fiber to make his products, such as wallets, business cards, and other gifts having recycled over 1.2 million pounds of waste stems over the last five years. Rashvin Pal Singh, Group CEO at Biji-biji Initiative, focuses on sustainability and circular solutions by working with different types of waste to make innovative products through its makerspace.  

Screenshot of Melanie MendiolaModerated by Melanie Mendiola
CEO of Guam Economic Development Authority
(CIS2018 Emcee)


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Week 5 Panelists- CIS Seed Talks

Four Obama Leaders shared inspiring CIS SEED Talks, showcasing their efforts to advance U.N. Sustainable Development Goals in locally and culturally effective ways
David Lawrence (top left) is the principal advisor for the National Youth Development Authority in Papua New Guinea. He says we all have an opportunity to shape our future and it starts with empowering youth. This involves getting youth engaged in government decision-making, which in turn benefits everyone. Alice Maher (top right) is the founder of the Corner Store Network in Australia and Timor Leste and has worked to preserve the future for generations, leaving no one behind. Her work is guided by the principles of economic, environmental, and food justice. Dr. Renzo Guinto (bottom left) is the chief planetary doctor of PH Labs in the Philippines and is dedicated to addressing climate change and human health. His hope is to advance the health of people, especially in a post-COVID future. Swietenia Puspa Lestari (bottom right) started Divers Clean Action in ​Indonesia knowing she wanted to do more for the environment. She spoke of how COVID-19 has shifted her strategy in educating others about segregating waste, but more importantly understanding our decisions now ​and protecting our environment may affect future pandemics.​
CIS Seed Talks Moderator, Andrea Park
Moderated by Andrea Park
International Programming, Asia Pacific
Obama Foundation

A Special Conversation with Dr. Maya Soetoro
Co-Founder and Senior Advisor
Institute for Climate and Peace

Dr. Maya Soetoro

Dr. Maya Soetoro is the co-founder and senior advisor for the Institute for Climate and Peace (ICP) and a consultant to the Obama Foundation. In line with the ICP’s values, she says it’s important to look back to our past as a guiding principle—including revisiting the definitions of happiness and wellness in stressful times, looking back to solutions in terms of food security and agriculture while we care for our island earth, and following the examples of way-finders who sailed our oceans and connected with other islands. From looking to the past to addressing​ our future, she says the challenges of climate change offer an opportunity and we need peace to navigate these changes together. She says regardless of any supposed status, everyone has a role in contributing to positive peace and making our communities more resilient. Speaking about values shared with her brother, President Barack Obama, she says leadership is not about self-promotion or personal achievement. Instead, it should be about building bridges, being intergenerational and understanding we are all connected.​

Screenshot of Dr. Austin Shelton

Moderated by Dr. Austin Shelton
Assistant Professor of Extension & Outreach & Director,
University of Guam Center for Island Sustainability and Sea Grant





Resolution Presentation

Screenshot of Senators presenting resolution

Resolution No. 326-36 (COR) was introduced by Senator Regine Biscoe Lee, Obama Leader and member of the 35th Guam Legislature. She was joined by co-sponsors Senator Amanda Shelton and Senator Wil Castro. The resolution presented to Dr. Maya Soetoro and Andrea Park, recognized the Obama Foundation for the establishment of its Leaders: Asia Pacific Program, the commitment of the foundation to progress and opportunities in the Asia Pacific region, and for providing values-based leadership. The resolution further commended the members of the inaugural cohort of Obama Leaders: Asia Pacific as key contributors to the University of Guam 2020 Virtual Conference Series on Island Sustainability.


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Ancient Winds Navigating Tomorrow 

The impacts of climate change and health emergencies expose both the vulnerability and resilience of island communities. As repositories of ancient wisdom, islanders carry lessons that can address some of the world’s most pressing challenges. For Week 5 of the UOG Virtual Conference on Island Sustainability, we had a distinguished panel of speakers who shared how islanders can help navigate the way toward a sustainable global future. This panel was moderated by Guampedia Managing Director, Rita Nauta.

Screenshot of the panel

Master Navigator and Waa’gey Co-Founder Larry Raigetal says applying island wisdom toward a global future is a common theme practiced for generations in our island cultures. And while we maintain our traditions, he says small islands must also face the reality of threats of globalization and climate change. With challenges before our islands, Raigetal says we must be interdependent on each other. Dr. Vicente Diaz, Director of the Native Canoe Program for the University of Minnesota-Twin Cities, shared some of the wisdom he’s learned from seafaring over the last 30 years throughout the world and how to revitalize canoe culture. He’s developed a virtual augmented reality that allows islanders to experience a simulated voyage, and to feel reconnected to their homelands. Whether it’s teaching how stars can be used for directional purposes or using technology, he wants to show where our traditions can take us. And for the future, Lehua Kamalu, the voyaging director of Hokule’a Polynesian Voyaging Society, wants to see a younger generation of voyagers continue the values of our traditional navigators. She hopes a younger generation will be inspired and not lose our cultural values.

Traditional Blessing

Screenshot of traditional blessingScreenshot of traditional blessing 2

In keeping with the spirituality and sacredness of traditional seafaring, the session opened with a blessing for ancestral protection and permission from the people of the land to receive the visiting navigators. Members from Traditions Affirming our Seafaring Ancestry (TASA) responded with a CHamoru chant to welcome the guest navigators and with the kulo' in unison to signify both the start and end of the gathering. 


Virtal Networking Reception

Screenshot of reception hostsw

After the conference, a virtual reception was hosted by the Rep. Shiela Babauta, 21st CNMI House of Representatives, and Sami Birmingham-Babauta, Extension Aide III at the Northern Marianas College in Saipan. 


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Women Business Leaders - Sustainabilty Solutionaries

Opening Remarks
delivered by Governor Lou Leon Guerrero and UOG SVP Dr. Anita B. Enriqeuz

Screenshot of Governor Lou LG and UOG SVP Dr. Anita B. Enriquez

Screenshot of Dean Annette T. Santos

Introduced by Dr. Annette T. Santos

Dean of the School of Business and Public Administration

University of Guam




Aggregators Panel

Aggregators Panel

The first panel, curated and moderated by Amanda Ellis, featured Aggregators- women business leaders who are promoting positive multiplier impact for others with a focus on sustainability and inclusion. Bank of Guam Executive Vice President and Chief Operations Officer, Maria Eugenia Leon Guerrero, said diversity doesn’t happen by accident, and if we want to change it, we need to have a deliberate strategy from the top. In order to promote business development that is inclusive and sustainable, she suggests three important factors: you have to define specific outcomes that you want to achieve and start measuring data; you need to integrate diversity and inclusion values into your sales teams and sale culture; and you need to strengthen partnerships with key stakeholders. Co-Founder Meli James shared how Mana Up taps into Hawaii's brand, unfair advantages, and regional strengths to scale businesses to the global market and bring new dollars to the state. With a growing portfolio of 51 companies in her accelerator, she says it’s important to help consumers from around the world get connected with the stories, culture, and authenticity of Hawai`i. Sun Valley Institute’s Founder and Chair, Aimée Christensen, greatly appreciates island wisdom, as it is directly relevant to her small community in Idaho working toward local self-reliance. Christensen is a global sustainability legend, who has advised Google and the World Bank, among others. She now helps localize the food system and energy system of her community. Each year, her organization brings global sustainability leaders and investors together through the Sun Valley Forum to promote local sustainable and regenerative solutions at scale. Barefoot College International’s Director and CEO, Meagan Fallone, works to empower women and poor communities around the world. Barefoot College works in 1,300 villages world-wide, impacting bringing light to 550,000 people through Solar Mamas program. She said the program skills women (who may not have had a formal education) not only with knowledge about technology and renewable energy, but more importantly with confidence, competence, and belief in themselves.

Social Entrepreneurs Panel

Social Entrepreneurs Panel

The second panel, curated and moderated by Amanda Ellis, focused on social entrepreneurs who are setting a standard through sustainable business development. Nui Source Fiji’s Co-Founder and Director, Ilivani Vamainabuke, spoke on her experience as a solar engineer, which has allowed her to network with stakeholders in raising awareness and engage with key communities about solar projects. She says these projects help elevate socio-economic viability of women in households, creating longevity and a ripple effect in the community. Voyaging Food’s Founder and Director, Brynn Foster, is a first-generation farm enthusiast working to understand the barriers to entry in both the farming and value-added manufacturing industry in Hawai`i. Being aware of the challenges of food security and wanting to be part of the solution, she started her company by making flour along with gluten-free baby teething biscuits from Hawaii grown heritage canoe plants like taro and breadfruit. Ethique’s Founder and CEO, Brianne West, started her 100% plastic-free cosmetics company as a way to rid the world of plastic bottles and have a positive environmental impact. Ethique packs the functioning ingredients of shampoos and conditioners into bar form, cutting out the need to ship water and plastic bottles. She hopes to change the way people look at business as it is the biggest driver to positive change. Co-founder and executive director of Women in Business Development Inc. in Samoa, Adimaimalaga Tafunai, has worked for over two decades to drive economies and create opportunities for people in small island communities. She says it’s important to allow island communities to be a part of the cash economy by supporting their need to bring products to the marketplace.


Screenshot of Week 6 panels 1 and 2 curator and moderator, Amanda Ellis.Panels 1 and 2 are both curated and moderated by the
Hon. Amanda Ellis  (2019 Keynote Speaker)

Director of Global Partnerships, Global Futures Laboratory
Executive Director, Hawai'i and Asia Pacific
Julie Ann Wrigley Global Institute of Sustainability
Arizona State University

Virtual Networking Reception

Screenshot of participants during virtual networking reception

After the conference, a virtual reception was hosted by Holly Rustick, chairwoman of the Guam Women’s Chamber of Commerce, and Vanessa Williams, Attorney & Advocate of the Law Office of Vanessa Williams, P.C. 


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 Achieving a Sustainable Global Future

Panel 1- Capacity Building

Screenshot of Panel 1- Capacity Building

Panel 1  focused on capacity builders and achieving a sustainable global future. Portland State University’s Vice Provost for Undergraduate Training in Biomedical Research Dr. Carlos Crespo (top left) says research and science is better when you have a variety of people with different backgrounds and diverse life experiences. He spoke about the Build Exito program that provides a pathway for students to identify a long-term research experience inclusive of a multi-tier mentorship program. Kamehameha Schools’ Vice President of Community Engagement and Resources Dr. T. Kå’eo Duarte (bottom right) says achieving a sustainable global future is about the journey of well-being. He adds the best way to create the next generation with a resilient sustainable future is to ensure that education journey builds a deeper understanding with themselves, families, communities, and places they live in. University of the Virgin Islands’ Research Assistant Professor Dr. Kristin Wilson Grimes (top right) says building diversity in the geo-science workforce is incredibly important because the geo-sciences are the least diverse in all the STEM Fields. She spoke of the SEAS Island Alliance that builds a career pathway for students in middle school to the workforce and giving them a sense of belonging in STEM. Lastly, SACNAS President Dr. Sonia Zarate (bottom left) spoke on the SACNAS program and increasing diversity and making the scientific society more inclusive. She also adds SACNAS is the only society that takes a position on issues of STEM and social justice as a way to reduce inequality.

Screenshot of Cathleen Moore-Linn

Moderated by Cathleen Moore-Linn
Executive Director
Research Corporation of the University of Guam (RCUOG)




Panel 2- Quality Education

Screenshot of Panel 2- Quality Education

Panel 2 focused on University Presidents and their approach to achieving a sustainable global future in their respective institutions. Arizona State University President, Dr. Michael Crow (top left), says sustainability has to be the core value of your institution evident by many of its initiatives like the Global Futures Laboratory and investing $150-million a year on sustainability research. He says students should think of sustainability like a marathon runner, and devote your life to achieving it. University of the Virgin Islands President, Dr. David Hall (top middle), outlined the ingredient to achieve a sustainable future including having sustainability embedded in the culture of the institution, having people who are committed to carrying out these ideas, and getting support from external partners. University of Otago Vice-Chancellor, Dr. Harlene Hayne (top right), says the most important contribution they make to achieving sustainability is through its students. In order to achieve this, the university ensures poverty is not a barrier to entry and they provide academic support and opportunities for students with challenging backgrounds. UOG President, Dr. Thomas W. Krise (bottom right), hopes for UOG to continue being a partner institution and creating connections for researchers and students. He adds over the years, UOG has grown its research capacities with over $20-million in research funding and has the distinction of being the only American Public University charged by its sponsoring government to serve people beyond its jurisdiction. Lastly, the University of Hawaii President, Dr. David Lassner (bottom left), says the University of Hawaii embraced a commitment to sustainability at the behest of its students, who even drafted the language. In the wake of COVID19, they are focused on a new approach to the tourism industry and incorporating sustainability that will have a positive influence on the people of Hawaii. 

Screenshot of SVPModerated by Dr. Anita Borja Enriquez
Senior Vice President and Provost
University of Guam




Virtual Networking Reception

Screenshot of week 7 virtual networking reception

After the final conference session, a virtual networking reception was hosted by the University of Guam's Norman Analista, Director of Development, Alumni Affairs, & Foundation Relations, and Annania Nauta, Project Coordinator.


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Last updated: 7/10/2020