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The G20 Summit, Food Security and Climate Change.

More developed countries around the globe have achieved high levels of economic and social stability through a very deep commitment to progress, carefully building on their capacity and capability, prudent management of natural resources both human and environmental, understanding fully and completely their very survival depends on sustaining these resources.

The more advanced nations moved from agrarian sustenance, through the iterations of Industrial Revolutions by increasing capacity and capability in existing cores, innovation and invention to create new growth using blue ocean strategies to maintain their comparative advantages, not in any way deterred by the uncertainties of the future.

From sustenance agriculture, the inevitable interdependence of people required to survived in trade and commerce, developing internal capacity which later informed international trade. Agriculture, moved to greater heights of productivity, as more and more productive capacity became more and more critical to survival. Agriculture will always be the very existence of the human being in.generalized context, yet totally true to ensure living and life.

The G20 Summit 2018 in Buenos Aires, 30th November to 1st December 2018, and chaired by Argentina is a gathering of the Heads of State, Vice Presidents and President of the European Union (EU). It was the first summit held in South America, and was Chaired by the President of Argentina.

Argentina set three agenda priorities for the meeting :

1. The Future of Work

2. Infrastructure for Development

3. A Sustainable Food Future

The Argentina Presidency of the G20 outlined

the overview of Argentina’s G20 presidency, “food security is an important link in the process of achieving stability and peace. In no other case are security and development more evidently interlinked and mutually reinforced as in food. Meeting the dietary needs of future populations requires a sustainable way of increasing agricultural productivity. (…) Healthy, fertile and productive soils are necessary for food security and human health, and their preservation is crucial for sustainable development and life on our planet.”

Food Security, is one of the main concerns of global leaders. It is a recognized fact that the security of nations depends on the production of food, and not just nations, but the entire globe.

It is puzzling that the global issue of climate change is not a priority agenda, on its own.

The recently elected Congress of the United States is presently being bombarded by young people who are lobbying recently elected Democrats to ensure climate change is placed high on the agenda of Congress. This is being championed by a young Congresswomen Alexandria Ocasio-Cortex, who refers to herself as a Democrat Socialist.

The problem of climate change is a global threat and it must be solved because it threatens the very survival of the plant. Such a global challenge must be met with a concerted effort of business, society and government in the largest possible scale.

All the people of this world are threatened.. it is no longer a concern.

It is an existential threat.

It is therefore even more of a problem especially since the world’s only superpower has withdrawn from the Paris Agreement.

This global problem means nobody is safe and cannot be tackled ostentatiously through the rhetorical and limited channel of Food Security. Flood, Fires and Hurricanes increase in strength as the planet’s atmosphere heats up. The destructive forces cause billions of dollars in damage and loss, money that could be better spent in reducing the effects of climate change. It seems the pragmatic thing to do is reduce cost in a sustainable way rather than destroy it.

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A Matter of Urgency.

Between October 21st and October 28th 2018, there were six (6) earthquakes in the near vicinity of Trinidad and Tobago! Of these, four (4) occurred in the Gulf of Paris, west of Trinidad. One occurred north-west of Trinidad, and the other occurred off the north eastern tip of Tobago. On the weekend of 20th – 21st October,2018, Trinidad experienced the worst flooding in history, with rural areas such as Kelly Village, St. Helena, Warrenville, Las Lomas, Sangre Grande, La Horquetta, Talparo, El Carmen and Manzanilla. Across the country, east to west was under water. At the time of writing, today, Wednesday 31st., October, 2018, the UWI Seismic Research Centre reported a 4.4 West of Trinidad. That will be seven (7) earthquakes between October 21st and October 31st 2018.

These earthquakes, all around the 4.4 mark, followed the 7.0 earthquake in August 21st 2018. https://www.facebook.com/uwiseismic/

If anything, there is a need for a more, very serious view of disaster preparedness, management and mitigation, and the above statistics point to a very grave need.

Climate Change is real. The heating of the planet is causing tremendous increases in naturally occurring hurricanes, storms, rainfall, earthquake etc. The increase in populations worldwide, makes these weather phenomena much more lethal and fatal.

Surface temperatures of the oceans have increased as a result, and for the Caribbean, this spells “trouble.” The rising sea levels, the warming of oceans means more fertile conditions are present for the formation of hurricanes, storms and more rainfall, and more flooding as the environment itself becomes more degraded due to human habitation. Disasters in the Caribbean will occur, it is only a matter of scale, as the magnitude and frequency of these are ever increasing.

The flood in Trinidad during and after the weekend of 21st October was a horrifying event. It rained for three (3) days prior and heavier in some locales. The rain was forecasted by the Met office. Yet still, people and animals and things were left marooned by flood waters which came in swiftly. Search and rescue of people who simply were seeking to escape the flood waters and save their lives became the only thought in the minds.

The picture of one family trapped on their house roof was a startling realization of the severity of the flooding.

Highways and roads were impassable. One half of the island was cut off from the other. The country was virtually standstill.

Many volunteers, using makeshift crafts, and many just using their physical power, began responding to their loved ones and neighbors. It was a remarkable display of caring and compassion by ordinary folk. One off-duty policeman in Greenvale told Social Media how he just started knocking on doors and pulling out people. Other pictures showed young men rescuing elderly persons, or trapped and marooned person.

People started organizing themselves into groups to deliver much needed food, clothes and other necessities to the affected people. It was a reminder that we share a common destiny, as a country and as a nation of diverse cultures and traditions. It took a disaster to bring the country together because there was this urgent and overwhelming need to survive, to serve and to support.

This unbelievable display of camaraderie and compassion offers much as opposed to the startling revelations of the outright obscene demonstrations of the worst of our society on Social Media. This provides a challenge to us as a civil society, but these are the actions of the few.

There is undeniable proof of a nation wanting better, nestled deep within the psyche of Trinis, including the diaspora.

I recall the events of November 19th 1989, when T&T lost that match against the US. The camaraderie then was overwhelming, but T&T moved on, and did qualify for the 2006 World Cup.

Perhaps there is a message of hope that can be drawn on, to compel a nation to get up, dust itself off, and march on, relentlessly in search of Excellence.

That effort, by all, requires firm positive will to change, in the context of climate change, for the interest of the vast amount of Trinidadians who wish to progress this nation into a new model.

Apologies

Due to circumstances beyond my control, I am unable to publish this month’s blog. I look forward to resuming soon! Thank you for your patience and you are welcomed to visit past blogs which I’m sure you will find very interesting and extensive!

Earthquake : Opportunity and Growth

Tuesday 22nd August, 2018 is going to live in my memory forever. It was, to me, the most threatening shake up I have ever witnessed in my lifetime so far. As much as I can recall, I heard the creaking of a the school building next door. The building is large, and I could see the light poles shaking as the ground underneath moved. I had decided that the best place was outside in the back yard, a clear space. Really, I’m not going to stay inside to be trapped or hit by falling concrete or roof. I really felt my chances for survival was outside, so I grabbed my dad, old as he is, and literally pulled him out of the house. At the end of it he was quite shaken, and once I realized what we been through, I sort of got numbed.

Earthquake, unpredictable, sudden, frightening and massively powerful. A force that nothing can compare to. It is it’s own category.

The experience to live through that sort of ordeal, is simply mind-boggling. I could just imagine the chaos people would have experienced in their minds, not really knowing what to do, no matter if one was knowledgeable about survival tactics or not.

But the majority of people would have been caught somewhere away from home as it was a working day, early evening, when the commute back home would have started. Children would have been on vacation, at home, some supervised, some not. I wonder how they would have coped with this traumatic event.

As it was, the country didn’t suffer much physical damage, with a few buildings with glass windows being shattered. But generally speaking, Trinidad escaped with very little damage. Really, it could have been much, much worst.

Other countries had similar strength earthquakes with many, many times more damage and loss of life. The infrastructure, water and electricity remained intact.

But suppose the damage was much worse, as in other countries, with tremendous loss of life. What would have been the response, the reaction, the restoration and eventual return to some levels of comfort and normalcy.

Were the first responder ready, and do they have a plan?

Would the healthcare system been able to cope? What about the Fire Services, Law and order, food availability, etc.?

To date, almost two weeks ago since the earthquake, I have neither heard or seen any attempt by the first responders to sensitize the public as to how they will go about restoring services for citizens. This is important because people will need to plan and equip themselves adequately for the period of time between the event and the restoration of comfort and normalcy. People need to make or have their own disaster preparedness plan to survive and that will be influenced and enhanced greatly if the authorities can articulate a proper disaster recovery plan, themselves.

As a professional, it was always within my purview to engage in Disaster Recovery and Business Continuity Planning so that the Business survives, recovers and resumes normalcy with a very specific period of time so as to ensure that resources were budgeted and in place to activate the plan.

In today’s world, where data reigns supreme, I wonder how many businesses have engaged in disaster recovery and business continuity planning and execution.

Disaster Recovery and Business Continuity are roadmaps for dealing with eventualities and must take the form of a 360 degree approach, and not just the financial aspect. The various components of the Balanced Scorecard can be superimposed on the Disaster Recovery and Business Continuity Planning to ensure the bases are covered around from stakeholders to assets, to finances to health and safety, to construction and restoration of utilities just to name a few.

The events of the afternoon of Tuesday 22nd August 2018, is not just a wake up call, it’s an opportunity to take strategic planning to another level.

…and it’s time to step up!

Rescuing Humanity…Lessons from The Cave

Allow me to digress from the normal writings on the virtues of the Digital Age, and focus on an event I found to be inspiring, touching, edifying and indeed almost spiritual in its essence. I must admit partiality to this occurrence not simply because of the great involvement of the sport, nay, the art of diving but because of the lengths to which people will go to save others. The seemingly unlimited capacity for commitment, for courage, for determination of the human spirit brought me to a place of surrender to the love, affection and humility of a people, of a nation and of this world. It was enlightening as it was strengthening in its reality, unforgettable in the memory and most gratifying in its outcome.


That people are willing to risk their own lives to save others is a trait not uncommon in this world today. While others are too busy pursuing their own agenda in this human existence, intensely focused on power, wealth, control and total dominance, some dedicate themselves to the saving of humanity and the preservation of life, unconditionally.

For eighteen days from June 23rd to July 10th, 2018, the world focused it’s gaze on the nation of Thailand, on the Pacific Rim. A group of twelve young boys and their Coach, went exploring the cave complex of Tham Luang Nang Non, found underneath a mountain range. This system of caves is about six (6) miles long. The group became stranded in the cave when a sudden deluge flooded the caves, just before the rainy season usually starts in July, almost halfway into the caves. It was the start of an unprecedented international effort to extricate the group of young footballers, The Wild Boars and bring them safely out of the caves.

The effort to rescue the boys and their coach included :

The rescue effort involved more than 10,000 people, including over 100 divers, many rescue workers, representatives from about 100 governmental agencies, 900 police officers and 2,000 soldiers, and required ten police helicopters, seven police ambulances, more than 700 diving cylinders.

They were summoned and came from all parts of the world. Seven (7) British divers, all civilians, and one an IT Consultant ( I just had to put that in 🙂) were key players in this unfolding drama. Nine Australians were honored by their government for the heroic work carried out. Chinese, American, people from Myanmar and Laos all came.

The planning was spot on as the assessment of the situation was accurate and well thought out by these highly experienced professional divers. An operation of that scale and magnitude has to be handled by experienced personnel.

It must be remembered that this was something that happened out of the blue, so to speak. It required sound judgement acquired from years of experience, along side the ability to think and act strategically, anticipating conditions, requirements and resource acquisition and allocation, “on the fly.” Quick thinking and action were needed to ensure the operations proceeded unabated.

That required the involvement of the Thai military to establish command and control to strategize, decide, plan and coordinate and control the effort. The effort though was led by Governor Narongsak Osatanakorn. According to Times he said “We did something nobody thought was possible.”

The logistical planning and execution of this exercise needed the precision and discipline of the Thai Navy Seals. These soldiers played a critical role in this rescue operation and to have observed and recognized their performance in the jigsaw of myriads of other components was just reward for a job well done. Their training and ability to utilize the wisdom obtained from that training and experience was exemplary in the lesson of mass cooperation to get the job done.

As a management/technology professional it was simply spellbinding to observe, analyze, assess, assimilate and synthesize this operation from all angles not just managerial competence of professional conduct or courtesy.

The lessons of understanding flexibility, competence, humility, planning & decision -making, and execution whilst trusting the judgement and wisdom of highly trained professionals demonstrated such enlightened leadership, that I can’t wait to read the reports and opinions of management institutions such as a Harvard and Cambridge, for instance.

CEO, other senior executives, managers, employees throughout will be enriched by this experience in management and mindfulness straddling and enhancing the disciplines of strategic thinking, planning, execution and management.

But for now, it is such a great pleasure to be part of the fraternity of diving, for the justification of learning the skill, and enjoying it, because at some point in time, it might be needed to save lives.

The lessons of humility, and the spirituality of the Thai peoples are a source of continuing faith and energy to enrich the lives of others through an attitude of respect, cooperation, humility and peace. I am a great admirer of eastern philosophy, culture and traditions and this has been advanced, concretized and embedded in my own psyche, to pass on to others.

Thai people are simply great, beautiful and humble and for me at least it is humbling. Humility can overcome anything.

It was not about politics, it was not about race, it was not about power, but it was about giving unconditionally in the welfare of others.

The Thailand response was, in my mind, a lesson to the world in the appreciation of life and what life itself means. Thailand undoubtedly celebrated their strength of culture and traditions of caring, of appreciating, and of respecting life.

Today, I celebrate Thailand, its peoples, its traditions, its culture, its deep spiritual presence in a world that desperately needs peace, cooperation, humility and respect for human life. Today it celebrate their spirit, their outlook on life and their contribution to world culture and its betterment by way of their example of gratitude, simplicity, quiet strength and courage and power to face an unknown outcome with steely resolve and faith.

Thailand illuminates an often dull and unforgiving space and provides guidance worthy of emulation, like a lighthouse for ships in stormy seas, and a might-house for us to find strength and courage and determination to live a virtuous and good life.

Thank you Thailand!


Bibliography

https://www.straitstimes.com/asia/se-asia/thai-cave-rescue-british-divers-first-to-find-boys-among-massive-international-team

http://www.abc.net.au/news/2018-07-24/thai-cave-rescue-australian-divers-receive-bravery-awards/10029542

http://time.com/5335284/thailand-cave-soccer-team-rescued/

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