Chancellor Philip DiStefano and a pair of CU Boulder sustainability leaders participated in University Climate Change Coalition (UC3) events during June as the university continues to take a leading role among higher education institutions in collaborating on climate solutions.
In early June, DiStefano participated in a roundtable discussion with other presidents and chancellors of UC3 schools, a consortium of 23 leading tier 1 research (R-1) universities from Canada, the U.S. and Mexico that work prominently in climate science and climate solutions. A wide ranging discussion among these leaders explored collaborative pathways forward for UC3.
As the university lead for UC3, University of British Columbia Vancouver President Santa Ono hosted a UC3 Summit on June 23 that focused on strategies for UC3 going forward, including a focus on the Climate Justice Fellowship, a pilot program aimed at contributing to university-specific climate action work through the power of networking within UC3 universities. CU Boulder affiliates Heidi VanGenderen, chief sustainability officer, and Jasmin Barco, assistant director of energy and climate justice, attended as campus liaisons.
Chancellor DiStefano had committed to CU Boulder’s participation in the Climate Justice Fellowship at an earlier leadership roundtable hosted by Ono. At the June 23 summit, Barco reported on CU Boulder’s progress with its climate action/climate justice plan, which has been highlighted by UC3 leaders for its value in informing stakeholder engagement around climate action and key themes and principles of climate justice that should be at the forefront of university climate action plans.
“We are making our voices heard in the sustainability sphere and participating in conversations with other universities,” said DiStefano. “I am pleased that our campus community members are able to take the time to travel to these important events where they can share their experiences from our university and return with fresh perspectives.”
UC3 brings together North America's leading research universities to accelerate climate action at the campus, community and global levels. CU Boulder’s status as a founding member in 2019 recognized the university as a global leader in climate, environmental and energy research. The university will augment its leading role as a convener of important climate discussions when it partners with United Nations Human Rights this fall to host the Right Here, Right Now Global Climate Summit.
The UC3 Summit provided a forum for knowledge-sharing on the work that universities are doing in the climate solutions space. Participants examined opportunities that universities have to build collaborative climate solutions, highlighted the role of research in policy-making and showcased innovative initiatives that are helping to spark action from higher education climate experts.
“This was a terrific chance to both focus on the Second Nature UC3 climate justice fellowships underway and, more importantly, to gather fellows in person so they could get to know one another and swap information about their respective work and lessons learned,” said VanGenderen. “This event helped forge collaborations aimed at specific outcomes.”
The Environmental Center sponsored Barco’s summit attendance. In her position, she has been working on the climate justice component of CU Boulder’s forthcoming update to its climate action plan and represented the university at UC3 as a climate justice fellow. Prior to the summit, she planned an interactive workshop with CU affiliates focused on the community’s voice with perspectives on what we should be tackling at the university level.
“I want to drill down into the values of the community to understand what they want and get their voices into the plan,” said Barco. “At UC3, I was excited to hear about out-of-the-box methods to get the community involved and partnerships with municipalities that will inform the way we continue to work on climate justice at CU Boulder. Everyone has ideas, and I want to move forward together.”
As a global leader in climate, environmental and energy research, the University of Colorado Boulder is partnering with United Nations Human Rights to co-host the Right Here, Right Now Global Climate Summit in fall 2022.