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50 Dominican Leaders Visit the GFDD Offices in Washington DC to Discuss the Environment and Sustainable Development

June 2, 2017

Washington DC – A group of 50 Dominican leaders participated in an event organized by the Global Foundation for Democracy and Development (GFDD) as part of the Dominican Embassy in the United States’ Leaders Program in Washington, DC. The group participated in a screening of the GFDD award-winning film, “Value of Life” and in a subsequent discussion about the environment, sustainable development and environmental film. The conversation was led by Claudia de Windt, Senior Legal Specialist at the Department of Sustainable Development of the Organization of American States (OAS) and Maryanne Culpepper, Executive Director of the Environmental Film Festival in the Nation’s Capital, alongside Semiramis de Miranda, GFDD’s Projects and ICT Director.

As Semiramis de Miranda explained during her opening remarks, GFDD utilizes all its programs and initiatives to create spaces for reflection, debate and celebration. “On this occasion, we are honored to have this group of high caliber leaders at our office and to facilitate a debate that enables us to plant a seed which will one day bear fruit throughout the Dominican Republic.”

The GFDD short film speaks about how, historically, little value is placed on natural capital when looking at growth equations and socioeconomic development. It is difficult for big businesses, and more so for ordinary people, to quantify the significance of natural resources and make the value of nature tangible in our daily lives.  The production responds to those questions: How much is the natural capital of the Dominican Republic worth? How do we put a price on the ecosystem the planet has given us and that allows us to survive?

Following the screening, Claudia de Windt, also from the Dominican Republic, explained what the OAS and her department do about the issue of sustainable development at the regional level. Among other things, she mentioned that the OAS has taken on “caring for our common home” – which comes from the Papal Encyclical- as one of its pillars. “The OAS tries to work on the basis of integrated ecology; based on the fact that all of us and everything is interconnected.”

Meanwhile, Maryanne Culpepper, noted that the environmental film festival that she directs -and which celebrates its 25th anniversary this year- presents to all audiences and ages topics which would otherwise not be available to them. “Film is an excellent way to teach and learn about stories and these stories, especially during these times and after what our President, Donald Trump, decided yesterday, are important for the whole world to understand.”

The festival that Culpepper heads is a partner of one of GFDD’s most important initiatives: the Dominican Republic Environmental Film Festival (DREFF). Since its creation in 2011, DREFF –an initiative of GFDD and the Fundación Global Democracia y Desarrollo (Funglode)– has been providing Dominicans with a platform of knowledge and debate on the environment and sustainable development, along with its challenges and best practices, while celebrating the unique beauty and wealth that is the Dominican Republic’s natural heritage. With a diverse selection of films and numerous panels, workshops, seminars, and community activities, DREFF promotes dialogue and the exchange of knowledge and experience, inspiring Dominicans to adopt actions that contribute to the appreciation, conservation, and sustainable use of their environmental resources.

The Dominican Embassy in the United States’ “Visiting Leaders Program” seeks to develop future Dominican leaders, empowering their personal and professional leadership capacity, through a series of visits with academic content and a Dominican perspective, which enables them to have a greater understanding of how the most important international organism in Washington DC function, explained Angie Martínez, the coordinator of the program.

This group’s visits have included the Organization of American States (OAS), the World Bank (WB), the International Monetary Fund (IMF) the Pan American Health Organization (PAHO), as well as the Capitol, the Supreme Court of Justice, the Department of State, the White House, the Foreign Service Institute, Georgetown University, George Washington University, the Cisneros Hispanic Leadership Institute, American University, the Inter-American Dialogue and Global Foundation for Democracy and Development, among other sites.

About Claudia De Windt
Ms. de Windt is a Senior Legal Specialist in the Department of Sustainable Development of the OAS (OAS-DSD), where she leads the environmental law, policy and good governance section. Ms. de Windt currently focuses on capacity building efforts in the areas of trade and sustainable development, environmental law and enforcement, access to information, to justice and participation. She has published various articles on these subjects among others she has co-authored in the field of sustainable development. She is a graduate of law from Universidad Iberoamericana (UNIBE) in Santo Domingo, Dominican Republic and has a Master of Laws in International Legal Studies from American University Washington College of Law.

OAS Department of Sustainable Development:

About Maryanne Culpepper
Maryanne Culpepper is the Executive Director of the Environmental Film Festival in the Nation’s Capital. She is an award-winning writer/filmmaker with extensive experience in developing, writing and producing high-profile documentaries and nonfiction series.  As the former President of National Geographic Studios, she previously oversaw development and production of 100+ hours of factual programming annually. She specializes in writing for broadcast, digital and museum platforms through her company Graffiti Works. Current projects include films based in Mozambique and the Baltic Sea, and an internationally touring exhibition for science museums. She is an Adjunct Professor at George Washington University’s School of Media and Public Affairs and an instructor at the Maine Media Workshops.


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