by Ren Xiaodong (ELP 2001), China
I feel very lucky that I was in the first cohort of the ELP in 2001, and to be honest, the ELP has had a very big influence on my career. For the past decade, China has moved very fast to achieve social and economic development. Livelihoods have been greatly improved; however, environment improvement will be a lasting topic in the future, especially since China has prepared to be a responsible big country, not only for itself but also for the whole world. I have to say, sustainable environmental management is the key factor for China to be successful in the world in the future. The ELP course gave me a chance to observe and comprehend our world at the macro level, and the course made me think logically, based on multiple factors that need to be considered to solve the problems of this world.
I have been working in the development field for more than 15 years after I received training from the ELP certificate course, and I finished my PhD program after that. During the past years, I established the Community Development Research Center of Guizhou Normal University. My main research includes community development, gender, environmental protection and project management. I have already led more than 50 international and domestic action research projects since 2001. For example, we have been carrying on a project sponsored by Citibank, named Guizhou Indigenous Craftwork Development Program, for five years, by using the concepts and experiences I learned in ELP course. The program has integrated environmental protection, cultural heritage and economic development. 20,000 ethnic women have benefited, their local economy is improving, and at same time, they utilize their natural resources through environmental protection methods based on their indigenous knowledge and traditional culture. The program won the China Commonwealth Award and Rotary Leadership Award of The Rotary Club of Shanghai in 2012. The ELP program really gave me a perspective on how to manage the environment through rural development based on the local economies of communities. Furthermore, I provide consultancy to multinational corporations like Citibank, Shell, Danone, and Eldorado for their community affairs and social responsibility programs. Frankly, it was the ELP that greatly influenced my point of view in the times of globalization, and improved my ability to solve problems on sustainable environmental management.