UCB ELP, that’s where amazing happens

by Yongbei Li, Singapore, ELP 2014
Written on July 13, 2014.

Time flies. I have been involved in the Environmental Leadership Program for a week and I have had a lot of fun here. Participants, who are at different ages and from different backgrounds, have crossed countries and boundaries to share their working experiences as environmentalists, while making new friends and searching for potential cooperation partners at the same time.

Ammara Naqvi is one of the passionate and experienced environmentalists from Pakistan. She worked for the multinational Oil & Gas Exploration (O&GE), a production company (BHP Billiton – Australian O&GE), the United Nations Organization, as well as the well-known consultant company, Hagler Bailly Pakistan, throughout the past 9 years. Currently she is working for SGS Pakistan Pvt. Ltd as a Deputy Manager of Environment. She focuses on waste management, sustainable development and air dispersion modeling, which are some of the main challenges that human beings face. It is worth to mention that she has worked closely with World Bank, IFC & ADB guidelines in Pakistan and Gulf countries as a Project Manager.

I have learned a lot from Ammara, though I am not familiar with the work she is enrolling in as an economics student. We have had many conversations during the first week about her job and her passions. What makes her crazy about environmental studies and environmental-related issues is her goal to make the world a better place. She saw that people care very little about their living environment, which is severely suffering due to their unconscious behaviors, and hence she endeavored to make a change. Ultimately, she gave up her dream of being a doctor and has devoted all her life to deal with environmental issues.

I am very inspired and impressed by her story. Many of us know that our environment is being severely damaged, but only a few people are willing to face tough challenges to achieve the goal of making a better environment for the human race, at the expense of their dreams. Apart from other pressing issues like political conflicts, environmental problems are irreversible. We keep exploiting land and cutting trees in order to make greater economic profits and to achieve a better living quality of today, while our offspring and future generations will face a shortage of resources, a heavily polluted environment and big health threats. We need to be responsible and considerate for what we have done to the environment and show our love to our children.

According to David Zilberman, and based on what I have learned in school, environmental problems bring about negative externalities, which are economically inefficient and social welfare minimizing. Policy makers should target at synergies and come up with win-win solutions that can boost the global economy in an environmentally friendly way. For instance, use solar power and windmills to generate electricity instead of coal.

The road ahead is changeable, but we have limited time and resources to accomplish our mission – to achieve sustainable development for human beings. However, if we insist on protecting the environment, making good use of technologies and enhancing education, we will be able to overcome the difficulties and welcome a better future. Just as Ammara says, we need to treat our environment just like we treat our babies, with patience and love.