Global Leadership Fellows – Columbia University 2011

Global Leadership Fellows – Columbia University 2011


Irwin Mendelssohn: My name is Irwin Mendelssohn,
I work for the World Economic Forum out of our New York offices and I’m part of
Global Leadership Fellows Program. Ramya Krishnaswamy: I’m Ramya Krishnaswamy. I’m a Project Manager of the Environmental
Initiatives of the World Economic Forum. Busba Wongnapapisan: I am
Busba Wongnapapisan. I’m heading the Renewability Industry
Sector at the Forum. Arthur Wasunna: My name is Arthur Wasunna.
I live in Geneva, Switzerland. I’m with the World Economic
Forum Global Leadership Program. I just arrived at the Earth Institute
at Columbia University. I’m looking forward to an intense week. Kenneth Prewitt: You are having
an experiences week, which is non-duplicable. It just can’t normally happen that
a major research university in some of its most important components is going to turn
itself out for you and try to get as much of what it is about into your heads
before you leave Saturday. Louise Rosen: We are putting on a program
for the World Economic Forum Fellows that is training them to address issues
of complexity and sustainable development. Kenneth Prewitt: I think one of the reasons
that we collect this is really important is we are really very good at
a University at creating knowledge. We are less good about making sure that
it is used in the places where it has to be used to make a difference and so
I think that if we pull that off if we can get a group of really talented young people
from all over the world to say, “Ah-huh, I get it.
I see what the issues are” and then may go off and implement that
and put it into practice then we will have realized our purpose.
Gilbert Probst: Global Leadership Fellows are young academics with some years of
experience that come to the World Economic Forum in important positions, responsible as
community managers or as heads of important global initiatives and what we
do is we train them in parallel to their job as future global leaders.
Louise Rosen: Well the fellows may have many advance to graze this intensive week
is really requiring them to take a very quick dive and some very complex issues
and it is really challenging them. It is challenging them and as much as
they may have economics backgrounds, they may have law backgrounds, but when
you are requiring learn about the hydrological system and the complexities of the climate cycle
we are using a different part of their brain. Kristine Billmyer: Good Morning everyone.
Irwin Mendelssohn: So we started the week with a lecture about cross disciplinary
cooperation, which really have to set the tone. Kristine Billmyer: Are you familiar with
the term “wicked problems”? A wicked problem is a problem for which
there is no formulation or definitive unambiguous solution. Ramya Krishnaswamy: All the problems
that we started looking at this week. They were all wicked problems
because they were highly interconnected and complex in nature.
Irwin Mendelssohn: To solve one issue you have to look at it in a context,
the number of other issues. Ramya Krishnaswamy: Wicked problems can
only be solved when we bring together people of various disciplines
and various stakeholders. Irwin Mendelssohn: Fundamental to
the approach the World Economic Forum is thinking about things in a multi stakeholder
and a multidisciplinary way so to be here at the Earth Institute
where part of the approach is inherently to think about things and across disciplinary
way and to marry the science with the policy and engage in the right stakeholders to help
to implement some of the recommendations. I think there is a certain harmony
between the two. We went up to the Lamont or the
Earth Observatory which is north in the city. I had the chance to see first hand
some of the research facilities. Ramya Krishnaswamy: Essentially it is
like a collection of laboratories all interested in earth systems in some way.
We were at the Tree Ring Lab where a scientist actually dug to the core of
a tree using a tool and help us extract a little section of the tree and
he explained to us how an aging of the tree could hold great clues to how climate patterns
that have evolved and we continue to talk about how by collecting samples
from around the world, we could find major clues to climate variability and
climate patterns over the past 100 of years. So it is extremely interesting being able
to visualize the importance of the scientific information with something
as practical as that exercise. There is a harmony around learning about
the earth and being in a forest space such as this and the greenest of it
and what happens here that allows the contextualization
of what it is that we are trying to do. The health exercise was one of
the highlights of the program. We split into four groups
in multidisciplinary teams to explore what our response would be to the outbreak of
malaria on that link of that to climate change. We got to be in the shoes of people who
we created and it worked for most of the time, the constituents we serve have
that feeling of, “Oh this is how we make policy, oh this is how we bring together
experts to come to a better answer.” Irwin Mendelssohn: The faculty who were
leading took on the role of the funders and evaluated at the end the different
proposals and awarded the winning one million $50,000
of hypothetical money. I think we are able to really learn from
how they made their decision, how funders actually look at projects and
makes things effective. Female: My favorite activity
is to go to the labs. Male: We are trying to design
materials that can absorb CO2. Busba Wongnapapisan: One of our
professors showed us a technique to capture carbon PCD’s experiment.
We see the technology itself. It is a brush that actually absorbs CO2
from the atmosphere and then once it gets wet it actually releases CO2. Ramya Krishnaswamy: And to demonstrate it
to us how levels of carbon dioxide went down when this absorptive material
captured atmospheric Carbon Dioxide. Busba Wongnapapisan: And it was really cool
and exciting for me coming from the business sector to realize what could be
the indications of this technology I think if the technology can be scaled up
commercially it will be a huge benefit in solving the CO2 issue.
Ramya Krishnaswamy: At the forum we work a lot to actually create awareness on
the technology that he talked about which is Carbon Capture and Sequestration so
I’m really glad to have met Professor Lackner and I would love to find a way to involve
him the work that we do and to see what — we can help him leverage our network to
bring awareness to this challenge into this technology. Jeffrey Sachs: The success of the spread
of the economic development which is the great positive that we all worked for over
the past 30 years is showing up so powerfully right now on environmental
climate, water, energy and other physical dimensions that, that is the other place
where we could have our success carry us right over the cliff. Irwin Mendelssohn: It was great to hear
Jeffrey Sachs talk first hand as to hear some of his ideas and really get a better
sense of his vision for the Earth Institute. Busba Wongnapapisan: One of the key
learning that I learned from him is that I think the business sector
has a very important role to play in solving the world’s problem. Arthur Wasunna: For me one of the
particular interests was listening to Professor Sachs talk about the role of the
World Economic Forum can play and should play in being the connector or Nexus between
policy makers and the business community. Jeffrey Sachs: So this is called tangible earth,
the world’s first interactive digital globe. Ramya Krishnaswamy: The tangible earth
representation was one of the most inspiring activities for me. Irwin Mendelssohn: First he was able to point
to a certain part of the globe and from there, on the screen, we could see visually what was
going on there and how that changed over time as well as across geographies
to different parts of the world. Ramya Krishnaswamy: Someone has developed
a powerful way to allow us to visualize very concrete things like climate variations
or bird migrations or population densities and the reason why visualization is so powerful
is that everything that was a climate model before suddenly became a live animation
and our ability to comprehend the nature of the problem has completely changed so the fact
that the professor who developed this simplified a very complex problem
inspired me very, very much. Irwin Mendelssohn: When discussing our
medium-term strategy there is a couple of things we want to focus on.
So our final activity was a project around the redevelopment of a certain part of Haiti
and doing that through the lens of practical problem where it is not only
economic development and social development, but climate especially
and environmental landscape. Busba Wongnapapisan: The Haiti case
has multiple challenges that need to be tackled from multiple angles so if I have
to form a team I need to look at different expertise, different experience
and I have to use different approaches. Irwin Mendelssohn: We form groups of 4
with each individual having a different background and expertise to bring to the
discussion and what we try to do is look at some of the short term medium term and
then the long term goals that we want to think about if we were advising on
the implementation of the program. For us it was interesting because it gave
us the opportunity not only to apply through the domain expertise environment
but to do it in a way that synthesize this what we have had a chance to
learn throughout the week. Arthur Wasunna: My week re-exceeded
my expectations. Irwin Mendelssohn: To hear from experts
with a cutting edge of applying the science around each of these different
disciplines to practical policy issues is both fascinating as well as
extremely relevant. One of the biggest things I got at this
week is having a chance to get a foundational academic ground in, a number of
different topics that I have been working with but have never really been exposed to
from the science perspective so I feel my understanding of the
different policy issues is much deeper because of my understanding of the science
and also feel my sophistication in being able to make connections
between one discipline at another is that much deeper as a result of
having to do this. Ramya Krishnaswamy: There are a lot of experts
and practitioners I met during this week who I really hope to continue
to stay in touch with and bring them to be a part of the work
that I do at the World Economic Forum. Arthur Wasunna: It has been an intense
but also very inspirational week and a week of many, many takeaways
for each one of us and definitely a week that we want to continue
to take into our careers going forward.

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