Government of Antigua and Barbuda to support the establishment of a Centre of Excellence for Oceanography and the Blue Economy at the University of the West Indies Five Islands Campus

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Government of Antigua and Barbuda to support the establishment of a Centre of Excellence for Oceanography and the Blue Economy at the University of the West Indies Five Islands Campus.

The Government of Antigua and Barbuda will be supporting the establishment of a Centre of Excellence for Oceanography and the Blue Economy at the University of the West Indies Five Islands Campus. The centre aims to advance intellectual progress and strengthen institutional capacity in the areas of marine science and the blue economy while capitalising on the economic opportunities for the Caribbean within this emerging sector.

According to the Honourable Dean Jonas, Minister of Social Transformation and the Blue Economy, “Antigua and Barbuda is advantageously positioned to expand the offering of the University of the West Indies Five Islands Campus in this area”. Antigua and Barbuda is one the largest economies in the Eastern Caribbean, has the largest Exclusive Economic Zone in the subregion and its geographical location makes it ideally suited to serve as the home and hub of the region’s blue economy efforts.

Recently, the Ministry of the Blue Economy engaged in a Roundtable led by the Commonwealth Enterprise and Investment Council (CWEIC), the Association of Commonwealth Universities (ACU) and the Antigua and Barbuda High Commission with senior faculty from the University of the West Indies, the University of Dalhousie (Canada), University of Southampton (United Kingdom), James Cook University (Australia), University of Queensland (Australia) and trade experts from Trade and Investment Queensland. The Roundtable explored the feasibility and opportunities available to establish a Centre of Excellence for the blue economy in partnership with the entities present. The objective is to gather leading academic experts, along with industry, to develop an action plan which will lead to the creation of the Centre of Excellence.

Sir Hilary Beckles, Vice Chancellor of the UWI, noted: “Given the vital role of the blue economy to the sustainability and competitiveness of the Caribbean, The UWI welcomes this proposal of the Antigua and Barbuda government and would be pleased to harness its diverse expertise while working closely with the ACU, CWEIC and other partners across the globe, in support of this very important initiative”.

Dr Joanna Newman, MBE FRSA, Chief Executive and Secretary General of the ACU indicated her pleasure “to endorse and support the vision of the Government of Antigua and Barbuda and The University of The West Indies to establish a Centre of Excellence for the Blue Economy in Antigua and Barbuda, within the overall development of a road map to economic sustainability through the blue economy”. Chief Executive of the Commonwealth Enterprise and Investment Council, Samantha Cohen welcomed this initiative as an “important step in the diversification of the economy of Antigua and Barbuda and the development of its natural assets to create a secure and environmentally sustainable economic future.”

Antigua and Barbuda, as well as the Caribbean region, stand to benefit from an emerging industry worth USD$2.5 trillion through the diversification of the economy into areas such as aquaculture, marine renewable energy, biotechnology and sea vegetable farming.

These meetings continue the dialogue that the Ministry has been holding with several organisations including the Commonwealth Secretariat, the Commonwealth Marine Economies Programme (CMEP) and the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development on developing a blue economy action plan for Antigua and Barbuda.

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Peru Reopens Archaeological, Tourist Sites After COVID-19 Closures

Machu Picchu

Peru is now allowing visitors at 17 archaeological and tourist sites after closing them for several months to prevent the spread of the coronavirus.

Speaking at the Pachacamac archaeological site in Lima on Thursday, Peru Culture Minister Alejandro Neyra said visitors to the sites will have to follow protocols, including wearing face masks and keeping a safe distance apart.

Authorities say nine other sites will open by the end of month, and a gradual reopening of several more will begin in November.

It is unclear when Peru’s popular Inca citadel of Machu Picchu will reopen.

The reopening of the tourist attractions is expected to give Peru a needed economic boost because the South American country has been hard hit by the pandemic.

Peru is among the leaders in COVID-19 cases in Latin American, recording more than 859,000 cases and just over 33,500 deaths.

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High-Quality Cost Efficient Plasma COVID-19 Treatment Developed by Suriname

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The Academic Medical Center (AZP) in Paramaribo, Suriname, successfully studied an efficient method to collect COVID-19 antibody-containing plasma from recovered Covid-19 patients to treat critically ill patients.

In contrast with prevailing plasma donation strategies, the Academic Medical Center collects plasma from recovered patients before hospital release. Early in the recovery process, the antibody titer is up to ten times higher than later in recovery. Preliminary data shows excellent results, both in patients where the condition is worsening to critical as for patients recently submitted to ventilator support.

The plasma donation and plasma preparation is supported by the innovative Dutch blood filter HemoClear. In a sterile, simple, and cost-effective procedure, this filter separates plasma from red blood cells. The plasma is processed to treatment for multiple COVID-19 patients while the red blood cells are or could be re-infused to the donor, not to hinder further recovery.

AZP anesthesiologist Dr. Rosita Bihariesingh states that ” the results are more than promising while the procedure costs and procedure efforts are way below available alternatives. We’re now awaiting approval to expand the patient group in our study “.

HemoClear’s CEO Vincent Franssen confirms growing interest in the Suriname method “Several study approval submissions are pending with the authorities of African and South American countries to use the Suriname method, HemoClear is proud to support these countries in their fight against COVID-19”.

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Caribbean Development Bank Supports Local Government

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The Caribbean Development Bank (CDB) has agreed to provide capacity-building support for local government in the Caribbean.

 

Managing shrinking resources

The bank has recognised the need to develop the capacity in local government to manage limited shrinking resources, particularly in light of economic set-backs and resultant strain on finance and service delivery due to national responses to the Coronavirus Disease 2019 (COVID-19).

CLGF Caribbean will function as project and workshop facilitator for this CDB initiative which is designed along the concept of public financial management. 
 

Inclusive plannng and financial management

This project aims to build capacity at the local level in improved and inclusive municipal planning and financial management, consistent with the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). Capacity building for professionals responsible for municipal finances will enable municipal councils to better support more effective service delivery in the context of key national and local priorities, as well as relevant governance concepts. Seven (7) of CDB’s Borrowing Member Countries (BMCs) with active municipalities will be targeted, namely: The Bahamas, Belize, Dominica, Guyana, Jamaica, St Lucia and Trinidad and Tobago.

 

Developmental local government

The two-year project will involve consultations between the CDB and the Local Government sector in the seven countries. Owing to border closures, these consultations will be hosted virtually to discuss developmental local government at the ministry and municipal levels. Guided by the development priorities identified in the virtual consultations, the CDB will provide a week of training (next year) for each country to enhance the capacity of local government personnel in municipal planning, budgeting, and financial management. The CDB will also engage professional services to assist with the development of business plans for municipalities who need this support. 

CLGF Regional Programme Manager for the Caribbean, Ms Sandra Singh said: “This is an exciting and very welcome opportunity and we look forward to working closely with the Caribbean Development Bank.”

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Latin GRAMMY-Winning Singer/Songwriter Ricardo Montaner on His Motivation, His Mission and His Music

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Ricardo Montaner is one of the best-selling Latin singer/songwriters of all time. A versatile musician and preeminent romantic balladeer, Montaner has composed and edited over 300 hundred songs, released over 24 studio albums, sold over 65 million records worldwide, broken attendance records at arenas all over the globe, and boasts one of the most recognizable voices in the Spanish-speaking world. He was born in Argentina but moved to Venezuela as a small child, where he first got his start singing in a church music group. From there, music became his driving passion, a calling that has taken him to a level of artistic renown few can match.

Over the course of his illustrious career, Montaner has sent numerous singles to the top of the charts, including perennial favorites like “Me Va a Extrañar,” “Dejame Llorar,” “La Gloria de Dios,” “La Cima Del Cielo,” “Castillo Azul,” “Quisiera,” “Vasito de Agua” and many more. His song “Tan Enamorados” occupied the No.1 spot of Billboard ’s Hot Latin Songs chart for 47 weeks. In October 2011, the magazine cited him as one of the ten most outstanding Latin American artists in the last 25 years. Montaner continues to evolve as an artist, innovating with new styles and collaborating with contemporary hitmakers like Tainy, Farruko, and J Balvin. Along the way, Montaner’s picked up several prestigious accolades, including a Latin GRAMMY Lifetime Achievement Award in 2016.

Beyond his music, Montaner has always put an emphasis on giving back. A tireless advocate for children, Montaner’s philanthropic efforts have earned him Billboard’s Hope Award, a Global Ambassadorship for the Special Olympics, and the soon to be announced title of Ambassador for Peace on behalf of Peace Tech Lab, an international award-winning organization established by the United States Institute of Peace, dedicated to raising awareness about the need to use technology for social good.

As part of Hispanic Heritage Month, Broadcast Music caught up with this celebrated music creator to learn how he’s made it all work.

 

Since first starting your career in the 1980s, you’ve become one of the best-selling Latin artists of all time. How has your creative process evolved over the years?

I feel that the creative process mutates from the personal growth of the individual. We cannot forget that those of us who write develop stories based on our experiences. Therefore, I believe that it is a matter of evolution and with each year that passes, creativity gives you new elements with which to write a song.

 

After 24 albums, you’ve managed to stay current — what has been your secret?

There is no secret formula for staying relevant. I try to adapt to what is musically current without losing the legitimacy of my poetry. But, at the same time, those same life experiences that I spoke about earlier have a lot to do with keeping you aware of what’s happening — how things feel, how couples live, what they live for, how their relationships change according to what’s happening in the world.

Along with writing most of your own songs, you’ve collaborated with some incredible songwriters. What, in your experience, is the key to a successful collaboration?

I think a successful collaboration happens when you shake your egos off on the doormat. When you get the opportunity to write with someone, the secret for something wonderful to result from it is to check your ego at the door. You pick it back up when you leave the place. That’s the best way I can answer that question.

 

You have won countless accolades, including the Lifetime Achievement award at the Latin GRAMMY Awards in 2016. What accomplishment in your career are you most proud of?

I am most proud of the respect… of my fans, my colleagues, whom I respect with all my heart and conscience. There is no more beautiful prize for any human being than the respect of others.

 

You have managed to use your fame as a music creator as a powerful platform for your philanthropy via your two foundations, Hijos Del Sol and Ventana de Los Cielos, endeavors that earned you Billboard’s Spirit of Hope Award in 2010. How important to you is the concept of giving back?

We were designed to serve. When God brought us into the world, He brought us with the idea of ​​living in brotherhood and serving one another. In my family, we take this very seriously and, in many cases, it translates through our foundations. But it also translates into the personal satisfaction that comes from knowing that you have brought a smile to someone or that you have brought relief to someone. For me, philanthropy is like an immense title, but service is a title that I regard with greater pride and satisfaction.

 

Speak a little bit about your involvement with Peace Tech Lab? How did you get involved with that?

Peace Tech Lab is a non-profit organization whose mission is the construction of peace. Throughout my experience as a spokesperson and ambassador of different organizations such as UNICEF, the Pan American Health Organization (PAHO), and the Special Olympics, to name a few, one of my greatest satisfactions has been knowing that any advocacy work that one does echoes and manifests itself with an impact. Peace Tech Lab seeks that: to impact people’s lives around the world. I am very proud and happy to know there are results every time we run a campaign.

 

What does Hispanic Heritage Month mean to you?

I think Hispanic Heritage is nothing more than a reminder celebration of where we come from, of our dignified presence, and our achievements in this country.

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Puerto Rico Reopening Beaches on Saturday Amid Drop in Coronavirus Cases

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Puerto Rico is reopening beaches, casinos, gyms and movie theaters Saturday for three weeks, following a drop in new coronavirus cases.

Gov. Wanda Vázquez said the changes on the U.S. territory will be in effect until October 2.

People are still required to wear masks and maintain a safe social distance, especially at the beach.

The 10 p.m.-5 a.m. curfew for bars and nightclubs will remain in effect.

Vázquez said she will lift a 24-hour lockdown on Sundays and allow restaurants to increase their capacity from 25% to 50%.

Many business owners are praising the reopening, while some health experts warn if cases spike after the reopening, tighter restrictions will go into effect.

So far, Puerto Rico has reported more than 36,000 coronavirus infections and more than 500 deaths. 

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The Partnership That Benefits More Than 150,000 SMEs in Brazil and Further Afield

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B2Brazil, the largest online business-to-business platform in the Americas, signed a partnership agreement this month with Bexs Banco, a Brazilian bank specializing in digital payment and foreign exchange services. The agreement aims to offer foreign exchange solutions to the more than 150 thousand importing and exporting companies registered on B2Brazil’s platform, in addition to offering increasingly efficient foreign exchange services, through digitalized processes.

“B2Brazil aims to facilitate foreign trade for micro, small and medium-sized companies. Through our platforms we connect international buyers and sellers and we increasingly want to provide value-added services to benefit and retain our growing base,” said Alexandre Ferreira Martins, partner and director of B2Brazil.

With the signing of the agreement, the companies are now working on implementing the partnership to promote and offer Bexs Banco’s exchange services through B2Brazil’s portal. The forecast is that the service will be available to the more than 150,000 companies using the platform starting in July, and that it will generate transactions of R$ 100 million in one year.

“Bexs Banco is a very innovative and pioneering bank in offering online solutions for foreign exchange services in Brazil. We are very much in sync with the objective of bringing solutions that facilitate our customers’ foreign trade operations in an increasingly digitalized world,” explained Martins.

For Luiz Henrique Didier Jr., President of Bexs Banco, the partnership comes at a time when e-commerce is hot around the world. “We will work to increasingly digitize our foreign exchange services and continue our mission of offering the best services and products in the world to Brazilians, as well as offering the best of Brazil to the world,” he said.

“We understand that foreign trade operations have a lot of growth potential in Brazil, and, like others in other sectors, they tend to migrate to the digital world. The union of our technological solutions for foreign exchange with the capillarity of B2Brazil will bring great benefits to Brazilian companies,” he added.

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XP Inc. Acquires Stake in Fintech Fliper

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XP Inc. leading, technology-driven financial services platform and a trusted provider of low-fee financial products and services in Brazil, announces the acquisition of a majority ownership stake in Fliper, an automated investment consolidation platform that offers its users connectivity and tools to perform intuitive and intelligent financial self-management. The transaction allows XP Inc. to offer its customers additional resources to manage their investments, as the open banking trend continues to accelerate in Brazil.

The acquisition is part of XP Inc.’s growth strategy and reinforces the value that the company sees in innovative fintechs, constantly seeking to attract the best entrepreneurs to complement and improve its investment platform. Fliper’s founders (Felipe Bonani, Renan Georges and Walter Poladian) remain stakeholders in the company and maintain full independence to manage the business with the support of XP Inc.’s structure – security, technology, back-office and marketing – to drive sustainable growth.

Fliper was founded in 2017 with the purpose of transforming its users’ relationship with personal finance, providing a single view of their investments across several financial institutions, allowing automatic consolidation, comparison of portfolio performance and monitoring of the evolution of assets. Fliper has over R$7 billion of mapped assets on its platform and sees the potential to surpass 5 million users in the coming years.

“The solution will allow us to improve the experience of our clients, who in many cases have accounts with more than one financial institution. Our intention is that XP Inc. customers consolidate all their investments and services within the group’s platforms. We are confident that with even more transparency and the ability to compare the quality of products, this migration will continue,” commented Gabriel Leal, XP’s Commercial Director. “Both XP and Fliper carry innovation and disruption in their DNA. Hence, we believe the partnership further complements our ecosystem and has a great potential for long-term value creation,” added Bruno Constantino, the group’s CFO.

Renan Georges, founding partner of Fliper, said: “being part of XP Inc. opens various opportunities for exponential business growth as we leverage synergies in the coming years. Also, as we remain independent, our users can be assured that we will work in the same manner with all financial institutions, offering transparency and always providing the best services aligning with their interests.”

The completion of the transaction is subject to approval by the Brazilian Central Bank.

About XP

XP is a leading, technology-driven financial services platform and a trusted provider of low-fee financial products and services in Brazil. XP’s mission is to disintermediate the legacy models of traditional financial institutions by:

Educating new classes of investors;
Democratizing access to a wider range of financial services;
Developing new financial products and technology applications to empower clients; and
Providing high-quality customer service and client experience in the industry in Brazil.
XP provides customers with two principal types of offerings, (i) financial advisory services for retail clients in Brazil, high-net-worth clients, international clients and corporate and institutional clients, and (ii) an open financial product platform providing access to over 600 investment products including equity and fixed income securities, mutual and hedge funds, structured products, life insurance, pension plans, real-estate investment funds (REITs) and others from XP, its partners and competitors.

https://www.xpinc.com/en/

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Supercharging sustainable development with a new Policy Priority Tool

UNDP Policy Priority Tool

The tool has been deployed so far in two countries in Latin America through the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) with ambitions to use it further in the region and bring it to other regions.

To help policymakers prioritize their public expenditure in the path towards the achievement of the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs)–  especially as new challenges loom large on the horizon –  an artificial intelligence approach called Policy Priority Inference (PPI) has been developed as a collaboration between researchers in the United Kingdom and Mexico supported by the United Nations Development Programme and The Alan Turing Institute.

The PPI approach is a unique mix of economic theory, behavioral economics, network science, and agent-based modeling, that aims to support governments in determining budgetary priorities to achieve national development goals. How long will it take to achieve development objectives given a current trajectory? How feasible are the goals that have been established? Which policy areas can accelerate progress towards the SDGS? These are just some of the questions the the PPI is able to provide evidence-based answers for.

“Recently, governments around the world have had to destine substantial resources to fight the COVID-19 pandemic, preventing them from achieving their original goals. In this context, PPI can be used to keep governments on track despite setbacks from the virus”, explains Omar Guerrero, ESRC/Turing Fellow from University College London.

The tool has been deployed so far in two countries in Latin America through the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) with ambitions to use it further in the region and bring it to other regions. The Turing just published an impact story detailing this new instrument, which has the potential to supercharge the effectiveness of government-backed sustainable development to the benefit of billions of people—and the planet itself. PPI builds on a behavioral computational model, taking into account the learning process of public officials, coordination problems, incomplete information, and imperfect governmental monitoring mechanisms.

“The tool has the potential to provide governments with concrete information on how to increase the effectiveness of public spending and accelerate the achievement of the development goals,” says Annabelle Sulmont, Public Policy Project Coordinator for the UNDP office in Mexico. “The model also provides a common language that enables its implementation in other parts of the world, and facilitates sharing and comparing results across regions and countries.”

Prioritizing issues for maximum impact is an enormous challenge for governments. The range of development policy options is countless, often with unanticipated inefficiencies that waste resources. And, crucially, there are complex interdependencies between policies that should be taken into consideration (e.g. investing in industrialization tends also to produce negative outcomes for the environment, while investing in public transport might also boost education outcomes because more children become able to access school.) Modeling these complex scenarios is exactly the sort of ‘wicked’ problem the UNDP and the Turing’s Public Policy programme is committed to working on with policymakers around the world and that cutting-edge data science and AI technology can make a huge impact on.

“Government expenditure data will take this technology to a whole new level and PPI is not only about government, but also about accountability. We want to bring these tools to NGOs too because this is useful for them to assess the actions of governments. NGOs can check if governments are prioritizing the right policies.”, added Guerrero.

Link to animation: https://youtu.be/h3H6tUaDkvE

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Wärtsilä Converts Brazilian Power Plant To Run On Gas For Improved Sustainability

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Wärtsilä Converts Brazilian Power Plant To Run On Gas For Improved Sustainability And Competitiveness

The technology group Wärtsilä will convert a Brazilian power plant to 100 percent natural gas operation, while at the same time increasing output from 85 MW to 92 MW. This will reduce the plant’s operational costs, and lessen its environmental impact. The contract with Rio Amazonas Energia (RAESA) is for the Cristiano Rocha power plant in Manaus, Brazil, and was signed in November 2019. In addition to the conversion, the two companies have signed a long-term service agreement with power plant performance guarantees.

The conversion will involve converting the existing five Wärtsilä 46GD dual-fuel combustion engines to five Wärtsilä 50SG gas fueled engines and the additionally required common system upgrades. The improved plant performance will raise its overall competitiveness, especially with regard to future energy auctions, and enhance RAESA’s possibilities for extending its existing Power Purchase Agreement (PPA) which is set to expire in 2025. Under the PPA, the company is contracted to supply energy to the national grid.

“The combination of converting to fully gas-powered operation and having a supporting long-term service agreement will deliver clear economic, performance, and environmental benefits. Wärtsilä is known for its capabilities in gas conversions, and we feel confident about the successful outcome of the project. This upgrade provides an avenue to transform our business to a more viable future enterprise,” said Mr Edésio Nunes, CEO of Multiner S.A.

Tom Lindqvist, Service Projects at Wärtsilä Energy Business commented: “The outcome of this project will certainly be beneficial to RAESA. It will increase the reliability of the plant’s operation and diminish the operating costs, while the service agreement will optimise equipment maintenance and planning, guarantee the capacity, and enable predictability of maintenance costs. We shall have a dedicated technical consultant on hand at the plant to ensure that the capacity guarantees are met.”

The plant currently rents additional generators to ensure adequate output, and this cost will be eliminated when the conversion is completed. Furthermore, the use of natural gas fuel will reduce the plant’s environmental footprint by approximately 10 percent, representing some 35,000 Metric Tons of Carbon Dioxide Equivalent (MTCDE)/year, which equals the pollution from some 7600 cars.

The conversion is scheduled to be fully completed in the first half of 2021. Wärtsilä has earlier successfully completed a number of gas conversion projects involving more than 100 Wärtsilä gas engines and totaling more than 1.2 GW.

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