Lessons From Experiences in Diverse Sectors: A Powerful Pillar to Gain Environmental Leadership

Mor Seye Fall (ELP 2021) | Corporate Social Responsibility Manager, Senegalese Electricity Company, Senegal 

My passionate journey in the environmental field began when I was a student at the University Cheikh Anta DIOP of Dakar. My education in environmental sciences has taught me how to address environmental crises, and the skills needed to overcome them in various sectors. Since then, my main concern has been how I could learn more about the challenges specific to each sector and contribute to solving as many as possible, as I can’t work on all of them.

I decided to focus on the field of Civil Society Organization (CSO) in order to reach important targets in the battle against environmental degradation. As an assistant, then the project officer at Enda Tiers Monde, an international Non-Governmental Organization (NGO), I worked on numerous projects including Ecohealth, Sustainable land management in a context of Climate Change and CSR in the mining sector. During that experience, I recognized the importance of preparing future leaders for the main challenges they will face. This fact has driven me towards universities and institutes that participate in youth training.

I started to teach in 2013 at the Environmental Sciences Institute of University Cheikh Anta Diop de Dakar. I have taught different modules including Environmental ethics and Corporate Social Responsibility. Two years later, other local institutes and universities like the Institut Sabdarifa, Institut des Métiers du Droit,  Université Gaston Berger de Saint Louis, and  Université Alioune Diop de Bambey allocated additional courses for me to teach on environmental and social impact assessments (ESIA) and project management. These courses allowed me to share professional experience with young students and to provide them with some guidance about the main challenges they would face in professional activities. In addition, my experiences within NGOs and Universities has revealed the importance of consultancy in the framework for carrying out studies that will be used as tools for decision makers.

I collaborated with consulting firms in order to practice and learn more about how ESIA is being done in the field and the main environmental and social issues raised by local communities. I participated in several ESIA related activities in a range of sectors including infrastructures, mining, electricity, and agriculture. During these studies, implemented in diverse geographic and cultural areas, I got a better understanding of ESIA procedures and the way that the discussion is handled with local communities who might be affected by the projects. I also learned about some of the weaknesses noted in the implementation and monitoring of environmental and social management plans resulting from the ESIA should be addressed by the Government and the businesses. These lessons inspired me to work with companies in order to learn more about their environmental and social policy and to attempt to contribute to the improvements of their social and environmental management plan.

My career as a community coordinator started when I was working for the first ever coal power plant in West Africa. I helped the environmental department to better deal with environmental issues that might affect local communities and manage the social activities of the company. Due to its controversial nature and potential environmental and social impact, local NGOs were complaining about its implementation. In this role, I’ve had the opportunity to deal and negotiate with various stakeholders.

The invaluable experience I gained working on that project has given me an opportunity to learn more about the inner workings of a company and to realize what I was recommending when I was at Universities, NGO and Consultancies Offices. The lesson learned here is that diversifying activities are paramount to fostering solid and effective environmental leadership.