2020 UOG Conference on Island Sustainability
President Thomas Krise shared the status of the University of Guam and how UOG has been responding to the COVID-19 situation in innovative ways, such as migrating classes online and providing logistical support to the health centers with UOG's nursing faculty and students. UOG held a successful virtual telethon, raising $48,000 for masks, gowns, and face shields for health care providers in the frontlines of the pandemic, while also providing musical entertainment, tips on how to grow food in your backyard, and ways to cope with stress.
Governor Lou Leon Guerrero shared how her administration responded quickly and aggressively to put measures in place to slow the spread of the virus and flatten the curve. The administration has been working closely with federal partners and experts such as the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), World Health Organization (WHO), and Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA). The Governor explained how Guam and Micronesia have a lot to contribute to global sustainability based on traditional island wisdom.
Andrew Morlet, the Chief Executive of the Ellen MacArthur Foundation, shared the major role the foundation has played in being a leader in the circular economy. Nate Maynard, a Research Associate of the Chung-hua Institution for Economic Research in Taiwan, spoke of how Taiwan went from a low collection rate of recycling to the highest rates in the world and how island communities can learn from their efforts. Kosi Latu, Director General Secretariat of the Pacific Regional Environment Program, told the audience of a turning point in Samoa when the state hosted the Pacific Games in terms of single-use plastics and suggests promoting tourism with more focus on culture.
Dr. Rajesh Buch, Director of the Sustainability Practice International Development at Arizona State University, is working closely on the concept of an inclusive circular economy which addresses segments of society that are excluded from the formal economy, underserved, and don’t have access to skills to start a business. Monica Guzman, Executive Director for GUMA, emphasized how sustainability is a major part of Guam’s culture.
Moderated by Jackie Marati
Chairwoman of the Island Sustainability Community
Advisory Board and Senior Vice President/Chief Communications and Corporate Social Responsibility Officer, Bank of Guam
Jerry Winata, Head of Foundation at Bawah Anambas Indonesia, spoke of approaching the circular economy as a nonprofit. Matthew Simpson, CEO of Green Banana Paper in the Federated States of Micronesia, shared how his company uses plant-based banana fiber to make his products, such as wallets, business cards, and other gifts having recycled over 1.2 million pounds of waste stems over the last five years. Rashvin Pal Singh, Group CEO at Biji-biji Initiative, focuses on sustainability and circular solutions by working with different types of waste to make innovative products through its makerspace.
Moderated by Melanie Mendiola
CEO of Guam Economic Development Authority
Dr. Maya Soetoro is the co-founder and senior advisor for the Institute for Climate and Peace (ICP) and a consultant to the Obama Foundation. In line with the ICP’s values, she says it’s important to look back to our past as a guiding principle—including revisiting the definitions of happiness and wellness in stressful times, looking back to solutions in terms of food security and agriculture while we care for our island earth, and following the examples of way-finders who sailed our oceans and connected with other islands. From looking to the past to addressing our future, she says the challenges of climate change offer an opportunity and we need peace to navigate these changes together. She says regardless of any supposed status, everyone has a role in contributing to positive peace and making our communities more resilient. Speaking about values shared with her brother, President Barack Obama, she says leadership is not about self-promotion or personal achievement. Instead, it should be about building bridges, being intergenerational and understanding we are all connected.
Resolution No. 326-36 (COR) was introduced by Senator Regine Biscoe Lee, Obama Leader and member of the 35th Guam Legislature. She was joined by co-sponsors Senator Amanda Shelton and Senator Wil Castro. The resolution presented to Dr. Maya Soetoro and Andrea Park, recognized the Obama Foundation for the establishment of its Leaders: Asia Pacific Program, the commitment of the foundation to progress and opportunities in the Asia Pacific region, and for providing values-based leadership. The resolution further commended the members of the inaugural cohort of Obama Leaders: Asia Pacific as key contributors to the University of Guam 2020 Virtual Conference Series on Island Sustainability.
The impacts of climate change and health emergencies expose both the vulnerability and resilience of island communities. As repositories of ancient wisdom, islanders carry lessons that can address some of the world’s most pressing challenges. For Week 5 of the UOG Virtual Conference on Island Sustainability, we had a distinguished panel of speakers who shared how islanders can help navigate the way toward a sustainable global future. This panel was moderated by Guampedia Managing Director, Rita Nauta.
Master Navigator and Waa’gey Co-Founder Larry Raigetal says applying island wisdom toward a global future is a common theme practiced for generations in our island cultures. And while we maintain our traditions, he says small islands must also face the reality of threats of globalization and climate change. With challenges before our islands, Raigetal says we must be interdependent on each other. Dr. Vicente Diaz, Director of the Native Canoe Program for the University of Minnesota-Twin Cities, shared some of the wisdom he’s learned from seafaring over the last 30 years throughout the world and how to revitalize canoe culture. He’s developed a virtual augmented reality that allows islanders to experience a simulated voyage, and to feel reconnected to their homelands. Whether it’s teaching how stars can be used for directional purposes or using technology, he wants to show where our traditions can take us. And for the future, Lehua Kamalu, the voyaging director of Hokule’a Polynesian Voyaging Society, wants to see a younger generation of voyagers continue the values of our traditional navigators. She hopes a younger generation will be inspired and not lose our cultural values.
In keeping with the spirituality and sacredness of traditional seafaring, the session opened with a blessing for ancestral protection and permission from the people of the land to receive the visiting navigators. Members from Traditions Affirming our Seafaring Ancestry (TASA) responded with a CHamoru chant to welcome the guest navigators and with the kulo' in unison to signify both the start and end of the gathering.
After the conference, a virtual reception was hosted by the Rep. Shiela Babauta, 21st CNMI House of Representatives, and Sami Birmingham-Babauta, Extension Aide III at the Northern Marianas College in Saipan.
Introduced by Dr. Annette T. Santos
Dean of the School of Business and Public Administration
University of Guam
The first panel, curated and moderated by Amanda Ellis, featured Aggregators- women business leaders who are promoting positive multiplier impact for others with a focus on sustainability and inclusion. Bank of Guam Executive Vice President and Chief Operations Officer, Maria Eugenia Leon Guerrero, said diversity doesn’t happen by accident, and if we want to change it, we need to have a deliberate strategy from the top. In order to promote business development that is inclusive and sustainable, she suggests three important factors: you have to define specific outcomes that you want to achieve and start measuring data; you need to integrate diversity and inclusion values into your sales teams and sale culture; and you need to strengthen partnerships with key stakeholders. Co-Founder Meli James shared how Mana Up taps into Hawaii's brand, unfair advantages, and regional strengths to scale businesses to the global market and bring new dollars to the state. With a growing portfolio of 51 companies in her accelerator, she says it’s important to help consumers from around the world get connected with the stories, culture, and authenticity of Hawai`i. Sun Valley Institute’s Founder and Chair, Aimée Christensen, greatly appreciates island wisdom, as it is directly relevant to her small community in Idaho working toward local self-reliance. Christensen is a global sustainability legend, who has advised Google and the World Bank, among others. She now helps localize the food system and energy system of her community. Each year, her organization brings global sustainability leaders and investors together through the Sun Valley Forum to promote local sustainable and regenerative solutions at scale. Barefoot College International’s Director and CEO, Meagan Fallone, works to empower women and poor communities around the world. Barefoot College works in 1,300 villages world-wide, impacting bringing light to 550,000 people through Solar Mamas program. She said the program skills women (who may not have had a formal education) not only with knowledge about technology and renewable energy, but more importantly with confidence, competence, and belief in themselves.
The second panel, curated and moderated by Amanda Ellis, focused on social entrepreneurs who are setting a standard through sustainable business development. Nui Source Fiji’s Co-Founder and Director, Ilivani Vamainabuke, spoke on her experience as a solar engineer, which has allowed her to network with stakeholders in raising awareness and engage with key communities about solar projects. She says these projects help elevate socio-economic viability of women in households, creating longevity and a ripple effect in the community. Voyaging Food’s Founder and Director, Brynn Foster, is a first-generation farm enthusiast working to understand the barriers to entry in both the farming and value-added manufacturing industry in Hawai`i. Being aware of the challenges of food security and wanting to be part of the solution, she started her company by making flour along with gluten-free baby teething biscuits from Hawaii grown heritage canoe plants like taro and breadfruit. Ethique’s Founder and CEO, Brianne West, started her 100% plastic-free cosmetics company as a way to rid the world of plastic bottles and have a positive environmental impact. Ethique packs the functioning ingredients of shampoos and conditioners into bar form, cutting out the need to ship water and plastic bottles. She hopes to change the way people look at business as it is the biggest driver to positive change. Co-founder and executive director of Women in Business Development Inc. in Samoa, Adimaimalaga Tafunai, has worked for over two decades to drive economies and create opportunities for people in small island communities. She says it’s important to allow island communities to be a part of the cash economy by supporting their need to bring products to the marketplace.
Panels 1 and 2 are both curated and moderated by the
Hon. Amanda Ellis (2019 Keynote Speaker)
After the conference, a virtual reception was hosted by Holly Rustick, chairwoman of the Guam Women’s Chamber of Commerce, and Vanessa Williams, Attorney & Advocate of the Law Office of Vanessa Williams, P.C.
Panel 1 focused on capacity builders and achieving a sustainable global future. Portland State University’s Vice Provost for Undergraduate Training in Biomedical Research Dr. Carlos Crespo (top left) says research and science is better when you have a variety of people with different backgrounds and diverse life experiences. He spoke about the Build Exito program that provides a pathway for students to identify a long-term research experience inclusive of a multi-tier mentorship program. Kamehameha Schools’ Vice President of Community Engagement and Resources Dr. T. Kå’eo Duarte (bottom right) says achieving a sustainable global future is about the journey of well-being. He adds the best way to create the next generation with a resilient sustainable future is to ensure that education journey builds a deeper understanding with themselves, families, communities, and places they live in. University of the Virgin Islands’ Research Assistant Professor Dr. Kristin Wilson Grimes (top right) says building diversity in the geo-science workforce is incredibly important because the geo-sciences are the least diverse in all the STEM Fields. She spoke of the SEAS Island Alliance that builds a career pathway for students in middle school to the workforce and giving them a sense of belonging in STEM. Lastly, SACNAS President Dr. Sonia Zarate (bottom left) spoke on the SACNAS program and increasing diversity and making the scientific society more inclusive. She also adds SACNAS is the only society that takes a position on issues of STEM and social justice as a way to reduce inequality.
Moderated by Cathleen Moore-Linn
Research Corporation of the University of Guam (RCUOG)
Panel 2 focused on University Presidents and their approach to achieving a sustainable global future in their respective institutions. Arizona State University President, Dr. Michael Crow (top left), says sustainability has to be the core value of your institution evident by many of its initiatives like the Global Futures Laboratory and investing $150-million a year on sustainability research. He says students should think of sustainability like a marathon runner, and devote your life to achieving it. University of the Virgin Islands President, Dr. David Hall (top middle), outlined the ingredient to achieve a sustainable future including having sustainability embedded in the culture of the institution, having people who are committed to carrying out these ideas, and getting support from external partners. University of Otago Vice-Chancellor, Dr. Harlene Hayne (top right), says the most important contribution they make to achieving sustainability is through its students. In order to achieve this, the university ensures poverty is not a barrier to entry and they provide academic support and opportunities for students with challenging backgrounds. UOG President, Dr. Thomas W. Krise (bottom right), hopes for UOG to continue being a partner institution and creating connections for researchers and students. He adds over the years, UOG has grown its research capacities with over $20-million in research funding and has the distinction of being the only American Public University charged by its sponsoring government to serve people beyond its jurisdiction. Lastly, the University of Hawaii President, Dr. David Lassner (bottom left), says the University of Hawaii embraced a commitment to sustainability at the behest of its students, who even drafted the language. In the wake of COVID19, they are focused on a new approach to the tourism industry and incorporating sustainability that will have a positive influence on the people of Hawaii.
Moderated by Dr. Anita Borja Enriquez
Senior Vice President and Provost
University of Guam
After the final conference session, a virtual networking reception was hosted by the University of Guam's Norman Analista, Director of Development, Alumni Affairs, & Foundation Relations, and Annania Nauta, Project Coordinator.
Last updated: 7/10/2020