Lysanne Charles speaks at SMILE Sint Maarten 2022

April 22, 2022

Lysanne Charles speaks about hurricane preparedness and community engagement at SMILE Sint Maarten 2022
Last month, Lysanne Charles was invited as a guest speaker at SMILE Sint Maarten 2022. During this event, she shared her latest research project and exchanged ideas with people across the industry sector about hurricane preparedness and community engagement with and of vulnerable communities in St. Maarten.

Educator, activist, and artist Lysanne Charles (University of St. Martin) is a PhD candidate with the Island(er)s at the Helm program. Community engagement is an important part of Charles' research project, for which she will work with a broad network of stakeholders across the SSS islands. At SMILE 2022, Charles' engaged with stakeholders involved in hurricane preparedness such as insurance companies, application developers, and stakeholders who work with vulnerable groups and others who came from the fields of education and the arts.

Participation of vulnerable communities in climate policy
In her project, Charles investigates the influence that islanders have on climate policy on Saba, St. Maarten and St. Eustatius. Who is (and isn't) involved in decisions about water, food, shelter and energy security during the hurricane season? Charles sees that islanders have had an important role in political decisions for years, and in her work she focuses on the role of vulnerable communities and the vulnerabilization of communities specifically. Her research will show how local knowledge practices can be incorporated into policy and measures to protect the islands from the effects of climate change.

Stakeholders at SMILE 2022
SMILE 2022 participants provided feedback and ideas on what should be included in Charles' research project. Insurance companies, for example, have policies in place as well as ideas how to inform people of hurricane preparedness, from a business and insurance perspective. The participating stakeholders expressed their interest in Charles' project, and in the ways in which persons engage in hurricane mitigation and disaster cleanup in St. Maarten.

Sustainable food and shelter strategies
Charles' work and interests have focused primarily on the empowerment of marginalized groups. Her interest in climate change and climate justice intensified after the passing of Hurricanes Irma and Maria and during the Covid-19 lockdown on the islands of St. Maarten, Saba and St. Eustatius, when it became apparent that the development of sustainable food and shelter strategies were necessary in order to not make marginalized groups even more vulnerable. Charles’s project employs a transdisciplinary approach to analyze and bring together stakeholders from government and the community in order to create a dynamic, viable policy and strategy roadmap for the SSS islands.

Annual Innovation Linkup Event in Sint Maarten
SMILE 2022 is organized by the St. Martin Hospitality and Tourism Association and is the island's annual Innovation, Initiatives & Industries Linkup Event. The event is a place for innovators to come together across all industry on the island. It serves as a platform for innovations, business updates and networking. It focuses on innovation and sustainability, marketing strategies, human relations management and much more. In this year's edition, keynote speakers shared their experiences in business and research, gave interesting workshops and sparked inspiration and ideas applicable in the Caribbean and the world.


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