Environmental Sustainability Summit:
Yale Alums Seize Opportunity to Lead

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Over the past decade, Carlos Pineda ’00 M.E.M./M.B.A. and a handful of other joint-degree alums from F&ES and the Yale School of Management (SOM) would get together regularly to talk about their fields and potential opportunities for collaboration.
 
Typically they share ideas about how innovation can solve some of the world’s sustainability challenges — and how Yale alumni might lead these efforts. Given the global reach of that alumni network, it eventually occurred to the group that these discussions could become much larger.
We needed a unique forum for Yale leaders to come together… and see how we could do more by knowing more about each others’ initiatives and offering each other support.
— Carlos Pineda ’00 M.E.M./M.B.A.
“It became clear to us that our colleagues and friends from F&ES, SOM, and other parts of Yale were already some of the most committed and influential thought leaders and change-makers in the field of sustainability,” Pineda said. “We felt that we needed a unique forum for Yale leaders to come together, share knowledge, experience, and best practice, and see how we could do more by knowing more about each others’ initiatives and offering each other support.”
 
Next month they’ll have their chance. More than 300 alumni, students, faculty, and outside experts will convene at Yale University Nov. 6-7 for the Yale Environmental Sustainability Summit (YESS), a first-of-its-kind gathering that will tackle critical questions at the nexus of the world’s food, energy, and water systems.
 
Alumni and students from across the Yale community are invited to register here for the conference, which is approaching maximum capacity.
 
The summit will kick off with a “fireside chat” featuring Tom Steyer, president of NextGen Climate, and Yale President Peter Salovey, followed by two days of panel discussions, talks, and networking opportunities. More than 60 speakers will participate, including Frances Beinecke, former president of NRDC; Fred Krupp, president of the Environmental Defense Fund; and former EPA Administrator William Reilly. See here the full list of speakers.
 
Organizers hope the summit will strengthen a multi-disciplinary network of Yale leaders in sustainability, create opportunities for collaboration, and increase the global impact of the alumni.
We realized that what we really need are innovative ideas that can be scaled up quickly. Because that’s how we’re going to solve the problems we’re facing now.
— Holly Welles ’88 M.F.S.
“When we first started to think about this, we realized that what we really need are innovative ideas that can be scaled up quickly,” said Holly Welles ’88 M.F.S., the Communications Manager at Princeton University’s Environmental Institute, who is helping to coordinate the summit. “Because that’s how we’re going to solve the problems we’re facing now.
 
“And when you start looking at which problems, they really break down to food, energy and water,” she said. “Those are the three areas where we need innovation in order to deal with the problem of climate change and the challenges of feeding the world, making sure people have enough fresh water and energy. And we have to do it in a way that’s not going to undermine our future.”
 
The pivot toward a university-wide YESS collaboration originated when the F&ES Alumni Board, prompted by Pineda, began discussing the initiative with Yale Blue Green, a group of Yale alums with a shared interest in sustainability issues, and the Association of Yale Alumni (AYA). The organizing team includes 13 alumni or current students of F&ES.
 
Fusco Corporation is YESS’ lead Sustainability Sponsor. 
 
Ultimately, organizers hope that concrete initiatives, new partnerships, and plans for future events will emerge from the summit. “And coming just weeks before COP21, the critical climate negotiations in Paris, the summit will provide a platform to discuss potential outcomes at the talks — and how Yale can position itself as a leader within the ultimate frameworks,” said Fedor Petrenko ’16 M.B.A.
 
“It’s not going to be that we just do this and that’s it,” Welles said. “There’s going to be so much momentum and synergy to take action going forward.”
 
Added Pineda: “Environmental issues and the health of our global ecosystems are at the cornerstone of the 21st century, for some very practical reasons. Yale will continue to seize the opportunity to lead.”
 
The YESS summit is co-sponsored by the Yale School of Forestry & Environmental Studies, the Yale School of Management, and the Center for Business and the Environment at Yale (CBEY). There are opportunities for sponsorship. To become a YESS sponsor, please complete Yale’s official donation form or contribute via the EventBrite page.
– Kevin Dennehy    kevin.dennehy@yale.edu    203 436-4842
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PUBLISHED: October 5, 2015
 

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