Background on CUSA’s Sustainability Lecture Series
While its roots may be traced back decades and even centuries, the concept of sustainable development only became a prominent and perennial feature of world affairs in the late 1980s with the publication of the Brundtland Commission’s landmark 1987 report, Our Common Future. Although critics have assailed the concept for being an oxymoron, redundant or vague, it has nonetheless been widely endorsed by political, business and community leaders, and embraced by different cultures and socio-economic classes around the world. Proponents have represented sustainable development as an invaluable approach to designing unified solutions to linked challenges.
The concept of sustainable development acknowledges the urgency of global problems, recognized critical connections between them, and sought to devise a framework for thinking about how they could be jointly addressed. The core elements of this framework are often understood to be economics, environment and equity, and the goal is to balance the requirements of each in a way that satisfies the needs of the present generation without compromising the prospects of future generations. While there is general agreement on the value of the goals of sustainable development, demographic, economic and environmental trends present considerable challenges to particular efforts aimed at improving sustainability.
Creating more sustainable societies will require addressing challenges and will require involving multiple perspective`s from the social and natural sciences, as well as political, community and business leaders. Our sustainability seminar series brings together scholars, researchers, experts, and business leaders to consider a variety of perspectives on choices and challenges related to improving the sustainability of water, energy, food, transportation and security systems.
Water and Sustainability
April 10 at 7:00pm, UCI, Engineering Lecture Hall 100
Chair of the Department of Planning, Policy and Design and Professor Planning, Policy & Design and Political Science at the University of California, Irvine
Freshwater is our planet’s most precious resource. Every living thing needs it to survive, but in many places people increasingly face difficulty finding it. In addition, growing evidence suggests it is an increasingly threatened resource that is under severe stress. This talk seeks to illuminate how the management of freshwater constitutes a political, social, economic, and environmental challenge and to suggest ways we might govern it more fairly and sustainably. We focus upon various policy innovations being introduced in California and elsewhere that may have world-wide application, including aggressive water conservation, innovative pricing systems, reclaiming of waste-water, and de-salination, among others.
Saving Our Synthetic Seas: Plastic Pollution in the World’s Oceans
May 1 at 7:00pm, UCI, Engineering Lecture Hall 100
Founder of the 5 Gyres Foundation
A gyre is defined as a large system of ocean currents created by large wind patterns and the Earth’s rotation. Together, the Earth’s five total gyres circulate water throughout the entire planet. Unfortunately, these slowly rotating whirlpools can accumulate denser objects as well, and due to our long term misuse of disposing plastic, this has become the exact case. This issue has been headlined by Anna Cummins of the 5 Gyres non-profit organization, cofounded by herself and her husband, Marcus Eriksen. The two have had a long history with the ocean and its ailments. Starting with simple beach cleanups and research trips, Cummins learned of the most prominently researched sample of plastic in the planet’s oceans,aptly named “the Great Pacific Garbage Patch.” Since then, Cummins and Eriksen have become much more active in their pursuit of understanding the world’s water. Altogether, the fast-growing 5 Gyres organization surveyed the North Pacific Gyre (2008, 2011), the North Atlantic Gyre (2010), the Indian Ocean Gyre (2010), the South Atlantic Gyre (2011), and the South Pacific Gyre (2011). She encourages those who are interested in the cause to stay updated for following expeditions in 2014 and other day-to-day events on their blog, which can be viewed on the 5 Gyres website, www.5gyres.org.
Business Solutions for a Sustainable Future
May 15 at 7:00pm, UCI, Engineering Lecture Hall 100
Area Manager, Energy and Environmental Solutions: Siemens Industry, Inc.
A sustainable future requires many changes: educational, behavioral, political, and infrastructural. Siemens has re-organized the corporation to focus on ways to provide this infrastructure necessary to solve the environmental challenges of today and tomorrow. Siemens, as is necessary to create markets for their infrastructure solutions, is also participating in the educational and behavioral changes for prospective clients. This discussion will focus on four areas of Siemens’ efforts in the field of sustainability: market prediction, market intelligence gathering, business organization, and specific solutions and products. The process mirror’s Siemens’ core belief: understand the current and future needs of clients, organize the business to best react and meet those needs, and then deliver the specific solutions to various clients in the most effective manner.
CUSA would like to thank the UCI Environment Institute for their generous support of this seminar series: