Opinion, Berkeley Blogs

Join us for learning, networking and fun – and sustain the Beahrs Environmental Leadership Program

By David Zilberman

The Beahrs Environmental Leadership Program is a three-week summer program that has trained more than 600 professionals, leaders and concerned citizens interested in issues of sustainable development, the environment and natural resources. It provides policy, conflict resolution, climate change, supply chain management, and marketing through interactive learning, group interaction, field trips, and projects. It helps to improve skills, become part of a global network, and it is a lot of fun. Our instructors are leading Berkeley faculty, practitioners and industry and community leaders from the Bay Area, and visiting scholars, that have included Nobel Laureate Norman Borlaug, Douglas Brinkley (noted historian), Pedro Sanchez (World Food Prize winner), and many more.

Every year, we have about 150 applicants, of whom we accept around 60, with 40 participating. This year, we had the usual number of candidates and 40 students ready to come. But due to tougher immigration policy, many of them are not able to get their visa, so we have 10 open spots. This is an opportunity for Berkeley alumni and others to join the program and become part of this unique network. It is also your way of helping us survive during this tough stretch. I believe that every crisis brings an opportunity, and by expanding our reach to CNR and Berkeley alumni we strengthen the link between the Berkeley community and our global network.

Let me tell you about our network. Our more than 600 alumni are from over 100 countries, with 35 percent living in Asia and 25 percent in Africa. As you can see, the Beahrs ELP can contribute and support the success of emerging leaders, such as Binta Iliyasu from Nigeria.

Many of our alumni have gone on to contribute significantly in their field, having won two Goldman Awards, given eight TED Talks, and awarded over 60 Kingman awards, which are joint projects of Berkeley faculty and alumni. For example, Prigi Arisandi is 2008 alumnus from Indonesia who won the Goldman Environmental Prize in 2011. In response to deteriorating river water quality, he established a mass movement of students and teachers to monitor and maintain water quality for 3000 km of riverbanks. Another Goldman recipient and ELP alumnus is Rizwana Hasan from Bangladesh who used her experience as an environmental lawyer to achieve big gains for worker protection and environmental quality by after leading a long legal battle against ship industry. Giselle Weybrecht, a 2004 alumnus, responded to the lack of books on sustainable business practices by publishing 100 examples of sustainable practices and giving a TED talk.

It is very frustrating that immigration regulations are preventing friends of the U.S. from gaining expertise and building partnerships and gaining friends. The program makes a big difference. Several years ago, one of our participants told me, "The biggest thing I learned here is that I must send my daughter to school." Our participants from Israel, Jordan, and Palestine continued to collaborate long after leaving Berkeley. A participant from Pakistan and another from Tajikistan coordinated a joint program on migrating birds while at Berkeley. We have our share of American and European participants too, including program leaders from U.S. EPA, the European Environmental Agency, USAID, FAO, forest services and others. We have program directors of Nature Conservancy, World Wildlife Federation, Greenpeace, and many small NGOs. We have participants from Chevron, Shell, real estate developers, and traders in environmental services. We also have several professors and extension specialists, as well as interested citizens, even in retirement seeking to augment knowledge and make new connections.

The program runs June 4-23, 2017, and some of the details are here. Because of the unexpected vacancies, we have extended the deadline for applications until the start date.Im sure youll have questions, so you can call Mio Owens at 510-295-8641. We hope you join us, or send this to friends and colleagues who you think will be interested, as we continue to extend Berkeleys reach.