Georgia Tech Hosts 2023 RCE Americas Meeting
Oct 20, 2023 — Atlanta, GA
The Georgia Tech campus recently served as host to the 2023 RCE Americas Regional Meeting. From September 26 – 29, students, academics, and working professionals from around the Americas gathered to share their diverse perspectives and experiences, and delved into the discourse of sustainability. Participants attended panel sessions, presentations, site visits, and workshops (one of which was student led) over the three-day meeting, offering their unique viewpoints on how sustainability plays a role in their work and academic careers.
RCE Greater Atlanta was acknowledged by the United Nations University (UNU) on December 18, 2017, as a Regional Centre of Expertise on Education for Sustainable Development. RCE Greater Atlanta is one of over 190 RCEs recognized worldwide as part of the UNU RCE network. RCEs support multi-stakeholder implementation of the U.N. Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) at the regional level, through education and training.
RCE Greater Atlanta is committed to leveraging educational resources for regional implementation of the SDGs, with a focus on equity and justice, building on Atlanta’s history as the home of the Civil Rights Movement. RCE Greater Atlanta members, representing all sectors of community, business, government, and civil society, contribute to the creation of an inclusive and collaborative community that advances SDG knowledge and action, and nurtures strong youth leadership by harnessing higher education capacity and knowledge for regional benefit.
Among the speakers were Keisuke Midori, section chief from the Ministry of the Environment of Japan; Jenny Hirsch, senior director of the Georgia Tech Center for Sustainable Communities Research and Education, representing RCE Greater Atlanta; and Georgia Tech President Ángel Cabrera. Several of the speakers traveled or participated virtually from around the United States, as well as from places as far-flung as Mexico, Puerto Rico, Canada, Peru, and Columbia. Atlanta was also well represented with participants and speakers from many area colleges and universities including Morehouse School of Medicine, Kennesaw State University, and Georgia Gwinnett College. A wide range of topics were presented such as “Youth Initiatives at Assateague Island,” “Energy Equity: Advancing SDG 7 Affordable and Clean Energy Through Community-University Partnerships,” and “Young Leaders of the Earth Charter at RCE Bogota.”
Several Georgia Tech students were in attendance and have offered their perspectives on the event. Lakshya Sharma, a master’s student in Human Computer Interaction and the student coordination manager for RCE Greater Atlanta, says, “The conference provided people coming from a wide variety of backgrounds an opportunity to present views, opinions, and talk about differences. I was given the responsibility to lead one of these sessions, where we discussed how important local community action is and how these actions can be made more efficient, inclusive, and effective. Participating in these discussions gave me a fresh perspective on things and made me explore new ways to solve problems, which I can now implement as a professional.”
Perrin Brady, who is studying History, Technology, and Society at Georgia Tech and serving as a student engagement coordinator for RCE Greater Atlanta, said, “I was able to raise questions to the room that I struggle with as a young person, like how to navigate possible conflict between requiring fast climate solutions and needing equitable/sustainable solutions that take time and consideration. People's answers gave me hope for future impacts I could make.”
Julie Chen, another student engagement coordinator, who is studying architecture at Georgia Tech, said, “The range of presentations remains an inspiration, as I was able to witness different RCEs actively involved in unique projects to further the UN SDGs. It was especially heartening to see young students taking the initiative. The RCE Americas Network is a great platform to share these efforts.”
The event was sponsored by Oak Ridge Associated Universities; Kennesaw State University’s Global Education Community Engagement and Outreach; Goethe Zentrum; and several Georgia Tech organizations, namely the Brook Byers Institute for Sustainable Systems, the Renewable Bioproducts Institute, the Strategic Energy Institute, the Atlanta Global Studies Center, and the Ray C. Anderson Center for Sustainable Business with the Drawdown Georgia Business Compact.
The RCE Americas Meeting is an annual event. For more information, see the following links:
Meeting Resources: https://drive.google.com/drive/folders/1K8XeWuCEXq66TEVZuQQm3X3EzfXQ3zVB?usp=sharing
Presentation Recordings: https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCpof6N7frRLybc0UW8dhX4A
Kristina Chatfield, Program and Portfolio Manager, Center for Sustainable Communities Research and Education