“You share with me the special favour of God.” – Philippians 1:7

Last week I made a seamless transition from the 20th edition event of the Caribbean Media Exchange on Sustainable Tourism (CMEx) in St. Thomas, USVI across the Atlantic to the 16th AGM of the Commonwealth Partnership for Technology Management (CPTM) and the annual December Think Tank at the CPTM Smart Partners’ hub in London.

Even though there were many similarities between the two events e.g. three days’ duration, youth representation, interactive dialogue, sharing, networking, public private sector mix, number of participants and practise of the CPTM smart partnership philosophy, there were many differences. These differences were as follows: CMEx was conducted in a tropical setting, whereas at CPTM we were all cloaked up to protect ourselves against the vagaries of the wintry weather; CMEx is 10 years old whereas CPTM is 16; CMEx is focused on the importance of tourism in sustainable development whereas CPTM is sustainable economic development-focused – on the inclusion of innovation, entrepreneurship (including quality & standards) and finance.

CMEx is focused on the Caribbean journalist with a cross fertilisation of ideas from journalists and tourism officials from the Americas, Canada, the Caribbean, and Europe whereas CPTM has a wider diversity of expertise, experience, interest and support which encompasses Africa, Australia, the Caribbean, Europe, India and the Indian Ocean, Malaysia, the Mediterranean and North America. As an example of such diversity, I was sitting at a table for lunch on the first day of the CPTM at which the randomly selected representation by country of birth was Barbados, Cyprus, Ghana, Malta, Romania, the Seychelles and the UK; and the next day, a smaller group Barbados, Germany and Nigeria.

CMEx was expertly executed by its virtual experienced event planning team, with support from many sponsors, and hosted by the USVI Department of Tourism which is in the throes of developing its first comprehensive Tourism Development and Action Plan whereas CPTM was expertly hosted by the experienced CPTM team at the hub.

CMEx and CPTM now have to engage in a measure of introspection to ensure that the respective publics which they serve are well satisfied and that all the relevant resources which are required are adequate to ensure internal organisational sustainability as well as to facilitate socio-economic sustainability in the beneficiary countries.

At CMEx much further food for thought was garnered from the participants in a special interactive dialogue session which exhibited buy-in by the participants and which will be taken into consideration by the CMEx board as it plans future events.

On the grounds that sustainable socio-economic development can only take place one successful enterprise after another, there was a fully endorsed appreciation, in an exclusive session with members of the CPTM Joint Executive Group (JEG), for the business enterprise-related work which is being undertaken in the Caribbean, including: (1) the Barbados Entrepreneurship Foundation with its support pillars – Government Policy, Business Facilitation, Access to Finance, Education & Training and Mentoring &Networking; (2) franchising the CBET Shepherding Model™ country by country in the Caribbean and beyond; (3) the concept of “Barbados as a Donor Country”; (4) CMEx; (5) the concept of a National Integrated Logistics Agricultural Trading System; (6) Caribbean Diaspora for Science, Technology & Innovation; (7) Caribbean Science Foundation; (8) Sequential Evolutionary Approach; (9) the saga of West Indian Sea Island Cotton (the missing family silver); and (10) The Future Centre Trust (a sustainable development organisation arising out of the UN SIDS conference in Barbados in 1994).

Indeed, at the CPTM Think Tank there was a proposal by the JEG that I should explore the possibility of a CPTM event in Barbados in 2012 on the theme “Entrepreneurship (including quality and standards)” which would not only serve to spread the word about the CPTM’s smart partnership philosophy but also enhance the probability of networking and trade development between Barbados/the Caribbean and Africa, Australia, Europe, India and the Indian Ocean, Malaysia, North America and the Mediterranean, in particular. There were two previous CPTM inspired events called the Barbados International Dialogue (BID) in 1996 and 1999.

For the records, last week’s CPTM Think Tank theme was “Innovating for Collaboration, Collaborating for Innovation”. There were six interactive sessions over three days. In sessions two to four there were breakout elements. (1) Welcome and General Overview: Keeping in mind the changing world; Think Tanking not Think Tanks; Learning, Transforming and Adapting to Change; and Culture and Science using software of the mind.

(2) Plenary: Innovating and Green Fuel; Achieving resilience and Cyber Trust. Breakouts: (a) Tradition and Transformation – Vision 2016, Botswana – Smart Partners Cooperative Links and Visions, Lesotho; (b) Vision 2020 and Leaders of the Future – Seychelles 2020 – Smart 29ers Leaders of the Future, Uganda; and (c) Carrying forward National Visions and National Smart Partnership Dialogues – 2011 Swaziland and Cameroon 2025.

(3) Plenary: Towards Innovating for Agribusiness and Infrastructure for Water. Breakouts: (a) National Economic Consultative Forum, Zimbabwe – National Involvement Movement, Mozambique; (b) Caribbean, African, Malaysian Entrepreneurship Dialogue (including quality and standards) – Integrating Quality and Financial Inclusion for Informal Settlements, Namibia; (c) Smart Partners Labour Link and Trade, Swaziland – Agribusiness Trade & EPAs.

(4) Plenary: Innovating for Quality and Business. Breakouts: (a) Quality Inclusion and Innovation, Uganda and Zimbabwe; (b) Financial Crisis, Opportunities and adapting Public, Private Sector Partnership, Small States and Zimbabwe; (c) National Quality Movement, Lesotho and Swaziland. (5) Towards Smart Values in the Commonwealth and Beyond. Finally session (6) Bringing everything together.