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Beahrs ELP Blog

A Busy Summer for the IEP

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Mio Katayama Owens, Ph. D., is the director of the International and Executive Programs (IEP). Building on the outstanding success of the Beahrs Environmental Leadership Program, IEP functions as a mechanism for effectively linking academic and professional entities, developing non-degree professional programs in Berkeley and overseas.
by Mio Katayama Owens


The 2016 ELP is just around the corner. My team and I are tying all the loose ends of the program as I type this: confirming speakers, instructors and panelists; checking the venues and equipment; and finalizing the field trip itineraries. When the new cohort arrives in Berkeley later this week, we will be ready for a big adventure together. For those of you who participated in the program and those that are interested in learning about where we are, I thought I’d share some of the highlights of this year’s program.

IMG_3447After last year, the 15th year of the program, my team and the Co-Directors were trying to bring a more focused approach of transforming our participants into true leaders. No one can effectively lead a project — let alone a department, agency, or organization — if they cannot perform as a leader. You need to possess vision, commitment, integrity, magnetism, presence, compassion, authenticity, and exude enthusiasm and confidence while being completely authentic. Our past curriculum has touched upon many of these elements throughout the program, and this year, we get to tackle this challenge head on. As many of you know, Dick, along with his wife Carolyn, has been one of the biggest supporters of the Beahrs ELP. As a former executive of major TV networks, including HBO and Time Warner, he has led many organizations and teams to reach higher goals by imparting his experiences as a leader with proven track record. My hope is that this session will push our participants to embrace bolder side of themselves, which they may not even recognize they possess.

Also, after the successful introduction of a communications session last year, we decided to have two back to back sessions on communications with David Reimer. David, the Executive in Residence at Haas Business School and a former Marketing Executive at Yahoo!, is coming back to teach the power of storytelling. Many of the business skills development books and programs emphasize the importance of storytelling as a key strategic business tool. As a leader, you have to be able to communicate your vision to your team, stakeholders and clients, in a manner that allow you to connect them through story to those of people you’re trying to engage. Over the last several years, I had the chance to work with many of our participants. I’m constantly impressed by their expertise, commitment, and accomplishments. After his sessions, they will have the ability to turn their visions into powerful stories that can turn their visions into action. In conjunction with Dick’s session, this tool will help all of us to materialize the newly cultivated leadership skills.

IMG_2356Of course, we can’t have a summer ELP course without our signature field trips. This year, Professor David Zilberman is leading the annual field trip to Salinas and Santa Cruz. He will be discussing his latest project on Climate Smart Agriculture, the role of innovations in supply chains, and issues of drought and global food security as part of the trip. We are scheduled to visit agrifood firms and make a pit stop at a strawberry farm before we reach the final destination in Santa Cruz, where we will have gourmet California seafood lunch at one of Santa Cruz’s most popular restaurants, Crows Nest, We’ll be joined by Dick and Carolyn Beahrs, as well as our long-term supporter, Bob Munsey.

One of our alumni, Noureddin Driouech (ELP 2012) of CIHEAM- Instituto Agronomico Mediterraneo of Bari (CIHEAM-IAMB) is coming back to the Beahrs ELP as a guest this year. While he will explore collaborative strategies with the College of Natural Resources, he will attend the program along with the rest of the participants. Given CIHEAM’s areas of expertise, I hope we will be able to identify opportunities for UC Berkeley students and faculty within the Mediterranean region.

This year’s ELP will be followed by a brand new addition to the IEP family, the Conservation Strategy Fund’s Economic Tools for Conservation. This course, held between July 25th and August 5th, will focus on applied economics for environmental professionals. While the Beahrs ELP covers a wide array of subjects and skills, this course provides tools critical for those that are at the forefront of conservation challenges, providing opportunity for our participants to hone in on their natural resource economic skills. Many of the ELP alumni have attend CSF training in the past, and their alumni come to the ELP, so I absolutely believe this is a complementary pairing. I hope to see many of the ELP Alumni at our inaugural course this year!

As we are getting ready to kick off the ELP summer course again in a few days, what I’m most looking forward to is everyone’s stories – about their project, organization, family, community – and be amazed, moved and encouraged that we are all striving to solve complex global environmental problems. I’m grateful that I have this opportunity to share this amazing experience with the rest of UC Berkeley community. For those of you who are around Berkeley this summer, it’ll be great to see you there too!

Beahrs ELP: More Than Just a Job

Megan Otsuka is an undergraduate student at the University of California, Berkeley (Class of 2017), and is currently pursuing a degree in Public Health. She is originally from Southern California and when she isn’t studying or working, she enjoys playing basketball and lacrosse, running outdoors, and eating sushi. Megan has worked with International and Executive Programs (IEP) since 2013.
by Megan Otsuka

Ever since I turned 16, the legal working age in the US, I’ve had a job. Whether that was folding clothes at a retail store, tutoring and nannying children in my neighborhood, or selling pies at a local cafe, I was always busy. When I was making the transition into my freshman year at UC Berkeley, multiple people advised me not to get a job. The college schedule, they told me, would be so much work and I should just focus on studying. I listened for the first month. But with all my extra free time, I soon got bored.

So I applied for a few jobs. In October, I was offered a position as an administrative assistant at the Beahrs ELP. I had no idea what it was, other than the information I got from the little research I did 20 minutes before my interview. At the time, it was just something I needed to keep me busy and make a little extra spending money.

Almost three whole years later, I’m going into my senior year, and I’m still here. Why? Because, to me, the ELP is no longer just a way to kill time. I’ve probably spent more time in Giannini Hall than any other building on campus because of the ELP, and my time here has shaped my college career. I came in as a freshman undeclared,hoping to major in Physics. That soon changed – for the ELP, I was tasked to learn about environmental issues in countries across the world, and its nexus with the health and social issues that impact them as well. That led me to take some public health and environmental science classes — now I’m a Public Health major concentrating in Environmental Health and Biostatistics.

001_CALCPV_1307140448_0682_NK_HuyenMore than that, I’ve had the opportunity to participate in 2 ELPs, and my third one is about to start next week. For three weeks each summer, I get to interact face to face with the participants I’ve emailed every day for the 5 months leading up to each ELP. I am humbled by the stories they tell me about the political, environmental, social, and health issues they face in their countries. They tell me about the backlash they receive from the government for trying to educate their own communities, that authorities do not enforce conservation and wildlife laws and mandates, that women are encouraged not to go to school, and that air pollution makes it hard to breathe. Although it may seem discouraging to know problems like these still exist, the participants are a reminder that there are still people who are hopeful for a better future and who are still fighting for justice. Their passion motivates me to work harder and to take advantage of the educational opportunities afforded to me at Berkeley. Receiving updates about their lives after the ELP is also extremely rewarding. I love learning about new doors that have been opened for the participants through the ELP, or more specifically the doors that the participants worked tirelessly to build from scratch and then find the key to unlock it.

As I begin my last year as an undergraduate student at UC Berkeley, I also begin preparing for my first year after graduation (yikes!). Whether that will be at graduate school or a full time job, I’m not sure . But I am sure that the lessons I learned by working at the ELP will have an impact on that decision. Thanks to Anita, David, Mio, Madhyama, Renata and all the other staff who have given me these opportunities and thanks to all the ELP participants (especially the classes of 2014, 2015, and 2016) who have let me be a part of their journeys. Because ELP has helped the participants build new doors, I know I can always knock on one of the over 500 and have an alumni welcoming me on the other side.

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Redevelopment of environmental damage calculation methods

by Erdenbayasgalan Ganjuurjav (ELP 2009), Mongolia

While participating in the ELP, I gathered a lot of experiences which laid the foundation for the objective of my work in 2014-2016: to improve and amend the environmental damage and compensation assessment methods for landscape projects in Mongolia. This was done by evaluating its shortfalls and necessary improvements using the biotope valuation method (BVM) as a benchmark, currently widely accepted and proven to be effective in Germany and the Czech Republic. The current method in use by Mongolia was adopted in 2010, and though it is well-grounded in theory and detailed, in practice, it involves a very detailed and complex process that has been proven to be vulnerable to a high degree of subjectivity and thus resulting in different assessment values depending on who is conducting the calculations, parameter variables being used, any assumptions made in the absence of data that is not always available, and the time consuming procedures used in the assessment. Since it proved difficult to create a fully satisfying and innovative method with noticeably improved levels of accuracy, it was deemed more suitable to redevelop and amend the current method to lower complexity and subjectivity levels to improve its objectiveness and accuracy, which will result in more uniform and reliable assessment results. A well-developed compensation method in Mongolia could mean a notable improvement in local capacity for environmental economics in the valuation of environmental degradation and a new point of reference for environmental priority setting. On January 12th of 2016, the Minister of Environment, Green Development and Tourism of Mongolia passed and approved (reference: Order A-14) this calculation method for environmental damage caused by surface mining and infrastructural projects for temporary use in the period of one year on testing. After the testing period, we will decide if we can further utilize this method.


Innovation and Supply Chains

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David Zilberman is a co-director of the Beahrs Environmental Leadership Program. He is a professor and holds the Robinson Chair in the Department of Agriculture and Resource Economics at UC Berkeley. He has served as a consultant to the World Bank, the USDA, the Food and Agriculture Organization, the Environmental Protection Agency, Consultative Group on International Agricultural Research and the California Department of Food and Agriculture.
by David Zilberman

Dear ELPers,

I am really excited as we approach our 16th summer program. Every year we modify the program to incorporate some of the new knowledge we obtain and new direction of research being developed at Berkeley. This year, we will have more emphasis on supply chain, innovation and the environment. Supply chain sounds like a technical term, but it really means the organizational structure through which new products or services are being distributed and move from the origin to the final user. We may speak of a supply chain for tomatoes, wine, or environmental services. As you know, I have been doing a lot research on innovation, especially with water and Integrated Pest Management. I realized that once you have an innovation, the next step is to design a great supply chain. The inventor or organization that wants to push the technology further must decide how and where to promote it. Some innovations, especially ones not embodied in new products, are delivered through the public sector or NGOs. Other technologies are transferred through the private sector, and there are many ways to transfer it. Sometimes they are developed by start-ups, in other cases patents move to large companies that then sell a final product.

I am interested in innovations that are part of the bioeconomy, namely innovations that are utilizing crops to produce food, fuel, chemicals, etc. and are crucial for moving from a non-renewable to renewable world. For these innovations, we need distinguish between feedstocks (the raw material) and their processing that produces the final products. Then we have the question of how to develop a bioeconomy sector. Should it consist of vertically integrated firms that produce a feedstock and refine it? Or should it rely on multiple farmers that produce feedstocks for refining? We develop a way of thinking about these issues and we will emphasize it in the coming ELP.

As you know, the ELP has become part of the International Executive Program (IEP) of the College of Natural Resources, and this year we added an executive program on supply chain and innovation in agriculture that focuses on these topics. In the future, we would like to host a short workshop on supply chain for environmental management. We hope that some of the ELP alumni can join us in these new programs and that we can develop some of these specialized programs in different parts of the world.

I am looking forward to another great ELP program and hope to see as many of you as possible in the near future.

Leaving the EU: implications for the environment

by Claudia Havranek (ELP 2014), UK

With less than a month to go before the EU referendum in the UK, the impacts of the UK leaving the EU are being widely debated. The UK is gripped with a feverish obsession to dissect every aspect of EU membership, however it is likely that BREXIT (the UK leaving the EU) will have global implications. One area which would be significantly affected is the environment.

Current environmental policy within the UK is determined by EU laws and directives. The upcoming UK referendum on membership to the EU provides the opportunity to consider if BREXIT would provide the freedom to make substantial changes to the UK policy, and help progress to these targets.

The UK supports a range of biological communities, as a long island covering a range of latitudes: from temperate ancient woodland, to wild meadows, 70% of this land is used for agriculture. To protect this biodiversity, as with many nations, the UK has signed international commitments to the environment. To date however, the UK has reported limited progress towards these goals.

A large part of work towards these targets in the UK comes from subsidies to landowners, distributed by the UK government, but governed by the EU. One aspect, accounting for 40% of the EU budget, are agricultural subsidies.

Claudia.havranekFrom personal experience, fieldwork on English lowland farms would suggest that current agri-environmental schemes within the UK are relatively ineffective in improving plant diversity. If this is (as might be expected) correlated with overall biodiversity, many factors considered import for the environment by the government are in fact not. The data I am collecting goes some way in evaluating how effective, both environmentally and economically, an EU determined environmental policy is.

Conservation in functional landscapes is always going to be a contentious issue, finding compromises for the range of stakeholders. Using the example of UK agriculture, personal interviews with farmers has emphasized the general feeling of displeasure and distrust with the EU determining agricultural policy.

The results of the upcoming referendum may be of special significance as impacts may be generalised to consider if a continental scale environmental policy is more effective than a national policy. With the referendum fast approaching, the UK leaving the EU would provide a sample country to compare the efficiency of national versus continental environmental governance. Whatever the results of the referendum however, from the data we have, changes to environmental policy are needed if the UK is committed to achieving its environmental commitments is required to improve current environmental policy in the UK.

*Claudia Havranek is a 2nd year PhD candidate in Plant Sciences at Oxford University. Supervised by Dr Stephen Harris (Oxford). Funded by an Oxford-HDH Wills 1965 Charitable Trust Graduate Scholarship.

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