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Bermuda to host world’s climate-risk thought leaders

Bermuda Business Development Agency CEO David Hart is solidifying friendships for Bermuda (Photograph by Jessie Moniz Hardy)

Bermuda will hold a climate-risk finance conference early in the new year, hosting 90 of the world’s thought leaders in the field.

This was by revealed by Bermuda Business Development Agency chief executive officer David Hart, who has pencilled in the event for the first week of February.

“The idea is to gather some real pre-eminent thought leaders in that space and have a day-long conversation about the role Bermuda can play to drive solutions and really be a leader globally in climate risk,” he said.

The announcement came on the heels of the United Nations climate conference COP26, held in Glasgow, Scotland, from October 31 to November 12.

The Bermuda delegation at COP26 included Walter Roban, the Deputy Premier, BDA chairman Stephen Weinstein, BDA deputy chairwoman Susan Pateras, and Mr Hart. The group was there to promote Bermuda as a climate-risk capital.

“At the event, I was so impressed with the energy and endless opportunities for us to tell the Bermuda story, and to find potential partners all over the globe,” Mr Hart said.

“We met with entrepreneurs and asset allocators, NGOs, tech companies. Every day was packed out from before breakfast until sometimes way into the evening.

“We had many solid meetings set before we left, but I was really taken with the number of opportunities and conversations and meetings that came our way out of complete serendipity. There were people from all over the world huddled in Glasgow for the same purpose.”

Mr Hart said that it is still too early to say who Bermuda’s conference delegates will be, but revealed that many of them will be contacts made at COP26.

To make the February event a reality, the BDA has partnered with Kroll Bond Rating Agency and the Association of Bermuda Insurers and Reinsurers.

Mr Hart took on the CEO’s role at the BDA on October 1. Previously he was the executive vice-president of the Florida Chamber of Commerce.

He first visited Bermuda a decade ago.

“Like most people, I fell in love with it the moment I laid eyes on it,” he said.

He visited several more times, often to speak at conferences.

Through his work in Florida, Mr Hart learnt the importance of getting the word out there about your region and its opportunities.

“That is exactly what we were doing for Bermuda at COP26,” he said.

In terms of turning back climate change, some have called COP26 a “minor step forward” while others were disappointed that India agreed to “phase down” rather than “phase out” coal.

But Mr Hart said that outside the inner sanctum, there were many groups such as the BDA who were there committed to finding ways to collaborate.

“It held a lot of promise beyond whatever the final documents that were agreed to,” Mr Hart said. “At the lunch that the BDA hosted during COP26, where our Deputy Premier Roban spoke, my end of the table was having a fascinating conversation about blue bonds.”

Blue bonds are a relatively new form of a sustainability bond — a debt instrument issued to support investments in healthy oceans and blue economies.

“Bermuda could possibly be in that space,” he said. “We are one of those places on Earth that is surrounded by blue water.”

They were also introduced to a number of tech leaders, including a representative for Aptera Motors, a California-based company building a 100 per cent solar-powered car.

At COP26 world leaders agreed to reconvene next year in Egypt instead of waiting the usual two years to meet again.

Mr Hart said that there was an appetite within the BDA to have a presence at the Egypt conference. “We saw how valuable that investment of four days of our time was,“ he said. ”We came back with many new contacts and friends of Bermuda.“

He said that promoting Bermuda as a climate-risk capital will be a BDA priority moving forward into 2022 and beyond.

“The area of growth and investment is exponential right now,” he said. “As the world is having conversations about resiliency and climate change, it will continue to be on the top of many people’s minds. There will also be the broader aspect of environmental, sustainability and governance.

“As companies begin to think through their own strategies for how they invest and how they meet their ESG goals as companies, we have the opportunity to be at the forefront of their thoughts, and be a solution for them.”

Mr Hart said that the BDA has a lot on its schedule already for next year.

“There is a high likelihood we will send a BDA delegation to Davos, Switzerland, to the World Economic Forum,” he said. “If what we saw at COP26 was an indication of what I expect the World Economic Forum is likely to be about, then it is certainly worth a few days of our time to be there and continue to tell the Bermuda story in that environment with those participants.”

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Published November 19, 2021 at 7:59 am (Updated November 19, 2021 at 7:52 am)

Bermuda to host world’s climate-risk thought leaders

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