Beahrs ELP Blog

The Great Beginning

by Alexander Iscenco, Moldova, ELP 2013


There is the end
Of everything.
In heart and soul
It points its sting.

It was just yesterday,
When we said “Hi!”.
But now it’s past…
We say “Good bye!”

“It’s time to leave,
We say in whisper,
The time has passed
Like sudden twister”.

We hug each other,
We kiss in cheeks.
But reasons to stay
Our mind eagerly seeks.

I hold your hand,
You hold mine too.
Still, vicious time
Breaks boldly through.

I turn away
To hide a tear.
“I’ll miss you…much…”
From you I hear.

I walk away,
You stay…alone.
The time has passed,
The time is gone…

This is the end
Of the entire thing.
No dance to dance with,
No song to sing.

But is this so?
No…I have a feeling
That this is only
The great beginning…


Building Upon Our Network: A Vision for the Future of the ELP


by Dick Beahrs

It has been an extraordinary opportunity to attend each of the ELP programs over the last 13 years.  Each year has had its special successes but I have always felt that the real value of the program wouldn’t be known for at least ten years from the creation of the initiative.  It would take at least that long to fully benefit from the connections, relationships and collaborations, which we all seek.  Leveraging your assets and those at Berkeley to optimize impact has always been a major objective of the program.  With 500 ELP Fellows from virtually 100 countries, we now have a unique opportunity to enhance our partnerships and work together more closely.

In the weeks and months ahead, there will be a concerted effort to enlist your input on how this can be achieved. A first priority is for everyone to have a full awareness of and access to the resources available to them both in California and overseas.  In turn, all of us at Berkeley need to be fully cognizant of what each ELP Fellow is currently focused on and what you perceive your needs to be in order to optimize the impact of your work.

Over the course of the ELP you have gained a degree of awareness of Berkeley programs ranging from the International Business Development (IBD), the Blum Center, the Center for Effective Global Action (CEGA) and the Master of Development Practice (MDP).  One of the easiest ways to reap benefits from your ELP participation is to ensure that you are all fully aware of how to access, collaborate with and leverage those assets.

Over time there have been a number of new components, which have been institutionalized by the ELP on a limited basis, and there are others which have been contemplated.  Your input is essential to help refine priorities.  The following represents a partial list, but provides a good sense of the initiatives proposed by many ELP Fellows:

  1. Specialized ELP Programs – ELP training is generally broad with a multidisciplinary focus.  There is strong sentiment for developing a specialized program each summer on a specific topic ranging from Climate Change to Population.  This would allow participants to dig deeper on a subject with focus and intensity, and would encourage ELP Fellows to return to Berkeley and enhance their relationship with their peers from the Alumni Network.
  2. Overseas Training – Altogether 500 Fellows have come to Berkeley.  Larger numbers could participate if training were held at regional centers in collaboration with your work. Everyone’s input on ideal locations, subject-matter, etc. would be essential to moving this concept forward.
  3. Regional Meetings – Soon after the ELP was launched, a luncheon was held in Jakarta, Indonesia to allow ELP Fellows to meet other Berkeley alumni.  Funds were raised to support participation by other Indonesians.  If similar meetings could be held annually on a regional basis, ELP Fellows could be joined by Berkeley professors to focus on topics of particular interest.
  4. Kingman Small Grants Initiatives – Kingman Grants are awarded annually to teams of ELP Fellows who are collaborating with Berkeley faculty on initiatives in their home countries.  There is a strong feeling that this concept should be expanded.  For example, each year for the past decade, consulting teams from the Haas Business School International Business Development program have worked with ELP partners to develop business plans and analyze unique challenges around the world. Other Kingman Small Grants Initiatives funded through the ELP are listed here.
  5. Foreign Opportunities for Berkeley Students – Sustainable Development is a subject of great interest to Berkeley students and many participate in academic programs where they are encouraged to work overseas as part of their study.  They would benefit greatly by working with ELP Fellows (at your direction) on your priority projects. We need to explore how to facilitate that collaboration.

One of the great strengths of the ELP since its inception is the extraordinary knowledge and the ideas, which each ELP Fellow has contributed to Berkeley.  I have detailed concepts in this blog, which I know can be refined by you in ways that can make them much more impactful and responsive to your needs.  Furthermore, I strongly believe that you will have many other thoughts, which can help take the program to greater heights.  All of us in Berkeley are anxious to commence this dialogue.  It is impossible to express my admiration and appreciation for all that you are accomplishing.  Many of your successes have been achieved under the most difficult of circumstances. You make us all proud!

Richard “Dick” Beahrs (Class of ’68) with his wife Carolyn, established CNR’s Beahrs’ Environmental Leadership Program. He was the first recipient of the College of Natural Resources Citation Award in 2003 and is currently Co-Chair of the CNR Advisory Board Development Committee and a Trustee of the UCB Foundation. He is the retired former President of the Courtroom Television Network and Comedy Central. A true Cal supporter, Dick, Carolyn and their four children all have Berkeley degrees.

Competing Environmental Priorities

by David Zilberman

I have been teaching and working as an environmental economist for 40 years and I consider climate change and population growth as the most pressing challenges facing humanity. While I am familiar with much of the political rhetoric surrounding these issues, still I found myself wondering why not much has been done to address these issues. This year, in the opening session of the Beahrs Environmental Leadership Program [ELP], I got a partial answer.

The Beahrs ELP is a 3-week intensive training program for up-and-coming environmental leaders, mostly from developing countries. They come to Berkeley for training in topics such as leadership, conflict resolution, policy analysis, and natural resource management among others. Teaching is done by Berkeley faculty and experts from the Bay Area, but mostly they learn from one another and often we, as faculty, end up learning a lot from them as well. This year marks the 13th year of the ELP. In addition to the summer program, we also maintain an alumni network of more than 500 members, a small grants initiative where alumni can collaborate with Berkeley faculty and staff and we are working towards launching similar programs around the world.

In the first day of this year’s ELP, as part of a meet-and-greet activity, we conducted a simple exercise. We listed 8 major environmental and societal issues (climate change, biodiversity, poverty, water, food, deforestation, population and pollution) and asked the participants to rank them on a scale of 1-8 (1 being the most severe and pressing, to 8 as least). The results were tabulated and presented below:




As you can see, there is very little consensus. If there was one topic that the ‘majority’ consider to be the most dire, it would be ‘poverty’ which 7 people ranked as number 1, while 16 people considered it to be in the top 3. Population was considered by 7 people as the most important and by 11 to be in the top 3, while 6 considered climate change the top issue, 10 considered it to be in the top 3. Global environmental issues: climate change, biodiversity and deforestation altogether were ranked as most important by 11 and top 3 by 27. Local environmental issues such as water and pollution were ranked most important by 6 and top 3 by 24 people. Furthermore, the ranking of some issues were bimodal. For example, population was considered to be a top 3 issue by 11 people, and 19 considered it to be in the bottom 3 of importance and 9 considered it least important. The immediate survival topics of poverty, food and water were considered be in the top 3 by 49 people, and overall these represent the issues people care most about. Thus it is clear, that even among environmental leaders there is a strong disagreement about the relative importance of climate change partially because of more immediate concerns like food, water and poverty. The issue of population is also divisive, perhaps because of differences in beliefs.

This was an informal exercise and lacks a lot of the rigor usually required by scientific studies however, to me it represents the gut feeling that affects the choices that people make. It is not that people do not care about climate change; but in the context of immediate survival challenges, it may take a backseat to other priorities. Being in America, my immediate concerns about food or poverty are not as dire thus longer-term issues such as population growth and climate change are higher on my radar screen.

Thus to address these pressing challenge, we need an integrated strategy that addresses both the immediacy of issues such as poverty, while at the same time tackles long-term challenges such as climate change and population, if we are to affect lasting change.

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