UOG takes on new leadership roles in island sustainability
The University of Guam’s role as a leader in island sustainability and climate change adaptation continues to expand following new commitments in recent weeks.
Following the UOG Center for Island Sustainability’s August launch of the Guam Green Growth (G3) initiative to educate and encourage the community toward a circular economy, CIS Director Austin J. Shelton has been tasked by Gov. Lou Leon Guerrero through Executive Order 2019-23 to co-chair the G3 Working Group, which will develop a strategy for accelerating locally and culturally effective sustainability solutions to global challenges. The working group will align its objectives with the 17 Sustainable Development Goals designed by the United Nations to put the world on a path to a more sustainable, equitable, and prosperous future by 2030.
UOG CIS will coordinate Guam’s membership in a new network established at this year’s Climate Week NYC, held Sept. 23 to Sept. 29. Lt. Gov. Joshua Tenorio at the joint Climate Week and UN General Assembly event committed Guam as a founding member of the Local2030 Islands Network, which will engage island partners in advancing locally driven models for sustainability and implementing concrete actions.
President Thomas W. Krise and Shelton have begun work this month as part of the Guam Legislature’s Guam Council on Climate Change Preparedness and Resiliency (C3PR), created by Public Law 34-17. Krise is serving as vice chair, and Shelton is serving as a member.
The council, under the chairmanship of Sen. Sabina Perez, chairwoman of the legislature’s Committee on Environment, is a policy-recommending body in support of the government of Guam's efforts to begin coordination and long-range planning efforts to mitigate adverse environmental and socioeconomics impacts of climate change.
Gov. Lou Leon Guerrero in August established a Climate Change Resiliency Commission via Executive Order 2019-19. Romina King, program director for the UOG Pacific Islands Climate Adaptation Science Center, will be serving as vice chair of the commission, and Shelton will serve as a member.
The commission will develop an integrated strategy to build resiliency against the adverse effects of climate change and to reduce contributing factors, such as greenhouse emissions.
“With all of these new commitments coming into place, Guam is in a very opportunistic position to set the standard for a successful sustainable island model to a global audience,” Shelton said. “Our center is excited to work with a broad group of people — the UOG community, government leaders, businesses, nonprofits, organizations, and now a network of island partners — to incorporate our local and traditional knowledge in the plan for a successful global future.”
Shelton presented at Climate Week NYC on the circular economy efforts of the CIS and fostered relationships for collaborations with island, regional, and global attendees.
Also at Climate Week NYC, King served on the planning committee for an all-day Climate Strong Islands Dialogue, sponsored by the New York Community Trust. More than 75 representatives from U.S. and international islands gathered to speak about sustainable solutions, including the circular economy model, resilience to disasters, and opportunities for collaboration.
“Climate Week was an intense and amazing opportunity for PI-CASC UOG,” King said. “While the lack of additional commitments from big countries, such as China and the U.S., to further reduce greenhouse gas emissions was disappointing, the energy of the youth movement and the practical ways forward by the financial sector and the nonprofits, which were multi-disciplinary and data-driven, were very inspiring. Collaborating and learning from fellow scientists, natural resource managers, and small-island state representatives gave me hope in humanity’s ability to successfully adapt to a changing climate.”