What does it mean to be a leader and model for sustainability?
This and many other questions are the starting point for a discussion panel that took place at the EWC/EWCA 2008 International Conference in Bali today. Participants Meutia Chaerani, R. Don Peel, Bryan Bushley, and Wendy Miles presented “Leading Sustainably in the Asia Pacific: An Interactive Discussion on Environmental Sustainability in the East-West Center Community.” These Participants are part of an active group concerned with environmental sustainability, and their efforts are focused first where they live: the East-West Center and the island of Oahu.
In recent years, EWC participants have been exploring new ways to promote sustainability in the East-West Center living and working community. Building on existing initiatives such as the EWC community gardens (located behind Hale Kuahine and started in the 1970s) and the volunteer recycling program at Hale Manoa and Hale Kuahine (begun in 1996), they have reinvigorated these efforts and started new ones.
The scope and volume of recycling has increased, adding paper and cardboard, and expanding collection to Burns Hall. Participants have also started meeting with the EWC Facilities staff to discuss changes that can be made in the residence halls to enhance sustainability by reducing our energy and water consumption and our waste generation.
As a result of this collaboration, all of the light bulbs in Hale Manoa and Hale Kuahine have been changed to compact-fluorescent bulbs and automatic motion-sensor lights have been installed in the laundry rooms and are being put into kitchens. In addition, reduced-flow showerheads have been placed in the bathrooms to reduce water use. The facilities staff has begun to take a very pro-active approach, and are conducting a de-lamping process in Burns Hall, while also discussing alternative energy options such as the possibility of installing photovoltaic solar panels on the roofs of select EWC buildings.
These initiatives are a start, but participants are thinking big. They would like to see the Center transformed into a leader and model for sustainability in the Asia Pacific region by “green-streaming” or mainstreaming sustainability into the Center’s programs and activities. As they see it, this is the perfect time for students, alumi, and the Center as a whole to take a leadership role:
The East-West Center’s 50-year anniversary in 2010 will be an opportunity to look back at the Center’s accomplishments and look forward towards the role the Center will play in the future. The Center has a long tradition of conducting cutting-edge, highly relevant policy research to promote sound environmental management and conservation in the Asia Pacific region. As the region grows and prospers economically, the cumulative ecological impacts are growing with it – including rampant urban and industrial pollution; widespread land degradation and land cover conversion; destruction of marine and coastal habitats; and global climate change. The existence and gravity of these impacts are now undeniable, as is their connection to rapid growth and development throughout the region. Equally evident is the increasingly global nature of ecological and related social problems; such that the actions of consumers in one country can have profound effects on distant communities and the ecosystems that they rely upon, throughout the Asia Pacific region and beyond.
Due to the increasing interconnectedness of our economies, our societies and our ecosystems, it is now more critical than ever to envision and implement creative solutions that help us to live and work more sustainably, without compromising our global community or our shared ecological heritage. Situated at the geographical and cultural crossroads of Asia, the Pacific and the Americas – and serving as a vital link between one of the world’s most prosperous and influential countries and its fastest growing economies – the East-West Center, with its diverse community of alumni, staff and participants, is uniquely poised to become a truly exemplary leader in the global movement for a more sustainable future.
This group has posed the following questions:
• What does it mean to be a leader and model for sustainability?
• What more can the EWC do as an organization to achieve this goal?
• How can EWC alumni and broader ohana contribute to sustainability efforts of the Center?
What do you think?
Most of the content of this post was provided by Bryan Bushley, with additional assistance (or meddling) from Linda Kay Quintana. All photos provided by Wendy Miles, used with permission.