A World View Of Sustainability

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Students, faculty and alumni are engaged in sustainability projects across the globe, ranging from sleep sickness research to women’s empowerment and Peace Corps volunteering. Rahama Wright ’02 runs Shea Yeleen, a skin-care company that works with women’s cooperatives in Africa.   By Kris Dreessen | Photo by Keith Walters ’11

 

Geneseo is part of a United Nations effort to protect resources — and build opportunities— across the world.

As a participant in the United Nations Global Compact, Geneseo has joined world leaders in adopting the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development to help conserve resources and build opportunities employment, economic development and other factors for quality of life.

As the largest global movement of sustainable companies and stakeholders, the U.N. Global Compact draws support from 170 countries and includes companies, foundations and organizations such as Coca-Cola, Johnson & Johnson, and LG Electronics. The U.N. General Assembly unanimously adopted the development goals in 2015.

Geneseo is one of just 36 U.S. academic institutions that participate.

All of the members work toward 17 common Sustainable Development Goals, which range from reducing inequalities and providing opportunities in education, health and economic growth, to creating sustainable communities and focusing on preservation of natural resources and other areas.

“Our approach to sustainability here at SUNY Geneseo is comprehensive,” and addresses several U.N. priorities, says Dan DeZarn, the College’s director of sustainability. “We work to blend infrastructure and facilities projects with curriculum and student engagement through tours and internships. We engage our surrounding community by giving workshops and presentations on our initiatives. We have succeeded in pushing this passion out to the world at large through study abroad programs, relief trips and research.”

Diane Willkens ’72, president and CEO of Development Finance International Inc. (DFI), which is a participant in the U.N. Global Compact, said it’s important that Geneseo is part of the initiative. An international business advisor, Willkens and her staff pair clients with funding opportunities in emerging markets, including investments and streamlining processes. DFI has offices in Manila, New Delhi, Nairobi, Addis Ababa, Brussels and Washington, D.C. — with a mission to use their expertise to improve lives and communities on a larger scale. 

“As CEO of a company that focuses with business on the U.N. goals in Asia, Africa and Latin America, I applaud and commend Geneseo’s commitment,” said Willkens.

The goals and issues they tackle are ones that students will confront and present career and volunteer paths for students for decades to come, she said. 

“With its participation in the U.N. Global Compact, Geneseo distinguishes itself among select higher-education institutions in anchoring itself with this most vital global
workstream. Whether our students are interested in global access to energy, the internet, food, health care, the environment and diversity, sustainable cities, renewable energy, global manufacturing supply chains, women/girls/and gender, reproductive health, and many other areas of import, the U.N. goals and Geneseo are committed,” said Willkens. “Students, faculty, alumni and supporters can use the Global Compact to imagine partnerships for Geneseo with countries, companies and other stakeholders and connect in ways unimagined previously.”

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Students and faculty members conduct solar energy and other research in the campus experimental garden, and also grow garlic, which is used in dining recipes. |Photo by Keith Walters ’11

Geneseo has a good start: The College is known for its commitment to sustainability efforts, including a partnership for Hurricane Katrina recovery and community-building in Biloxi, Miss., that is now in its 12th year. It is led by Livingston CARES, a community and College collaboration. There is also an experimental garden called the eGarden, where students experiment with solar energy and other research, laboratory research in the biology department that can help combat cancer and other illnesses, and construction of energy-efficient and green buildings on campus.

Geneseo’s role in the Compact is especially relevant, as SUNY Chancellor Kristina Johnson made sustainability and the U.N. goals a priority for all 64 campuses.

As part of this effort, members of the President’s Sustainability Commission for Geneseo recently launched an interactive storytelling map to share how Geneseo faculty, staff and alumni are leading sustainability efforts on campus and throughout the world. Visitors can view stories and media by the location of where Geneseo works or by the 17 U.N. goals. 

DeZarn and Kris Dreessen, manager of editorial services and the project creator, presented a workshop on the College’s comprehensive sustainability efforts at a SUNY-wide conference in June. They will also give a presentation this fall at the Association for the Advancement of Sustainability in Higher Education’s international conference. 

Geneseo continues to highlight student talent for the interactive map. Working with the Office of Sustainability on campus, Miles Druce ’17 built the map with mapping software, and geography major Elijah Freiman ’20 updates articles and multi-media on the site.

“This is the first time all of the sustainability efforts have been collected in one place,” said DeZarn. “This unique tool has allowed us to effectively catalogue and quantify our efforts as well as collaborate and convey what working towards a sustainable world really looks like. It also facilitates conversation about efforts and helps us identify where we can do more.’

Read more about Rahama Wright ’02 and how she’s making a difference.

Discover Geneseo’s tradition of service with the U.S. Peace Corps.

 

Author: geneseoscene

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