Virtual sustainability summit to feature climate activists, José Andrés

GW will host a sustainability summit Thursday, featuring guests like chef José Andrés and U.S. Rep. Sean Casten, D-Ill.

Sustainable GW originally planned to host an in-person summit last April in honor of Earth Day’s 50th anniversary, but the pandemic led officials to reschedule the event for this week. The summit will take place virtually from noon to 6 p.m. and include panel discussions on policy, community resilience and energy innovation in the face of climate change, according to the event’s agenda.

“Because GW’s strengths lie at the intersection of science, arts, health and policy, and since our campus community tends to focus on what we do in D.C., this event takes shape around themes that address policy and our role in the nation’s capital,” Meghan Chapple, the director of the Office of Sustainability, said in a release. “We’re highlighting GW’s accomplishments and the change that our GW community members can still help make more broadly in our city, our country and our world.”

Here’s what to look for on the agenda:

The summit will begin with a keynote interview about the future of sustainability with Casten, the U.S. representative for Illinois’ 6th congressional district, moderated by Frank Sesno, the director of strategic initiatives at the School of Media and Public Affairs and the former SMPA director.

University President Thomas LeBlanc will address viewers at 12:30 p.m. ahead of a discussion featuring panelists who will address the upcoming challenges GW’s environmental, social and governance responsibility task force will face to achieve the University’s goal of carbon neutrality by 2030.

The summit will also include a discussion titled “Climate and Community Resilience” at 1:40 p.m., during which panelists will discuss the role that universities, corporations and local and federal governments play in the fight against rising global temperatures.

At 2:45 p.m., the summit will feature GW’s deans, who will each highlight the work that their school has been doing to address climate change. Provost Brian Blake will discuss the value of cross-disciplinary research and teaching on sustainability.

Panelists will have a conversation at 4 p.m. about “energy innovation” and ways of encouraging the purchase of renewable, efficient and clean energy, followed by closing remarks from celebrity chef and activist José Andrés.

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