Ten (10) Columbia University Coalition for Sustainable Development (CUCSD) delegates had the privilege of attending the US/Canada Citizen Summit at the Yale School of Forestry & Environmental Studies. During the morning of the event, after appreciating the beauty of the Kroon-Hall building, we participated in a wide-range of concurrent sessions, including: Green Economy and Social Inclusion, Energy issues in the US/Canada, and Food Security and Sustainable Agriculture. In the afternoon, many of us participated in the popular Managing for Sustainability: Private Sector Strategies for Transition to a Green Economy session. Midway through the session, professor Marian Chertow stirred a few laughs after bluntly stating, “If your company is not reaching towards sustainability today, you somehow missed the memo!”
In the evening, after a long day of meaningful and exciting conversations, some of us joined the Canadian delegation at the popular Geronimo Bar in midtown, followed by a drink at the famous GPSCY bar (Graduate and Professional Student Center at Yale). We finished the day with a midnight walk through the beautiful Yale campus guided by one of our Yale hosts.
Sunday morning sessions were extremely interesting and some of us had the opportunity to participate in the Education for Sustainable Development and Social Media session. In the afternoon, we shared reflections about the summit and planned follow-up actions. The closing panel was very inspiring with the participation of a representative of Mexico to the UN, who made a request for engaging in the Rio+20 conversations, and from Alec Loorz, founder of Kids versus Global Warming, who encouraged us to be “unreasonable” in order to make the change we want.
On our train ride back to New York City, we had the opportunity to exchange ideas about the summit, with the conviction that the summit was a complete success as it impacted us deeply in our particular areas of expertise. We all came away with the motivation to participate more actively in the Rio+20 conversations.
We want to express our immense gratitude to our colleagues and organizers of the event at Yale for their outstanding effort and hospitality, with a special thanks to Jorge Barbosa, who worked with us before the summit, welcomed us to Yale, and worked diligently until the end to ensure that our attendance to the event was pleasant. Thank you Yale and congratulations on your wonderful event!
-Jairo Garcia, CUCSD