by Yewande Peters, Nigeria, ELP 2014
Written on July 23, 2014.
This blog is my overall assessment of the ELP, and essentially possible behavioral modifications I will make moving forward. I applied for the ELP with doubt that I would be admitted because of my little experience on issues relating to environment. However, I had been pushed to the wall with a task of facilitating an environmental program in my office that involved working with technical experts. This project is expected to kick start the process of “Mainstreaming Biodiversity into the South West Regional Development Plan.” Honestly speaking, I had no idea what step to take or expect from these "DONS." I had consulted several materials online, yet I knew I was inadequately equipped. Then came an alumnus of ELP who recommended the program and that began my journey to the prestigious University of California, Berkeley.
On July 5, 2014, I was checked in alongside Roger from Philippines. I saw lots of excitement and energy in him, so much that I could not wait to meet with other participants. Then the next day July 6, 2014, I met other passionate and beautiful environmentalists from around the world. I sat next to Pilar of GEF during the welcome session. She came across as one with so much experience but still humble. At that instance I said to myself that after all the hills encountered on my way, it was worth it. So far, I moved from the one with scanty ideas to being environmentally conscious. As one who is more interested in issues around policy formulation, David Zilberman gave a deep and concise presentation on Environmental Policy. My final note during his session was “read up on biodiversity indicators because it can be used to improve environment and health quality.” Then I asked myself, “Are there indicators for ‘Environment Budgeting’ like we have for ‘Gender Budgeting’?” since David summed up his session after a group exercise by saying “Almost all policy issues start as questions but end as figures.”
Again, it is worthy to note that tropical countries have the highest level of impact while 80% of its population spends half of their income on food. This region will also experience a lot of displacement of humanity and disruption of biodiversity. Climate refugees will be on the increase as a result of sea level rise, thereby causing different dimensions of challenges such as food security, health, socioeconomic and technological challenges. As an emerging leader in this field, these realities place a burden on me that the issues highlighted are substantive but the work cannot be done alone. I learned during Susan Carpenter's session that “the right questions will guide a productive process.” This implies that productive relationships will give birth to constructive processes. This will be the first tool used in engaging my technical experts back in Nigeria. Finally, my description of the ELP is a mother that gives birth to world leaders annually…if the truth be told!