As part of her internship at UNDP’s Equator Initiative, Katie McCann attended the IUCN World Conservation Congress(WCC) in Honolulu Hawai’i. This year’s WCC’s theme was “Planet at the Crossroads.” The Equator Initiative participated by hosting Community Kauhale ‘Ōiwi, or community dialogues, each day of the conference. Community dialogues aim to bring together environmental leaders of local communities and indigenous people with policy makers, conservationists and leaders in the field of sustainable development for lively conversations about the issues facing their communities.
The Community Kauhale ‘Ōiwi at the WCC covered topics from, “Localizing the Sustainable Development Goals,” to a media and technology workshop that discussed the use of digital technology in the field of conservation and the collection of indigenous information and knowledge.
One treat of the conference was a roundtable discussion with New York Times columnist, Thomas Friedman, and Equator Prize Winners from the Philippines, Jamaica, Nigeria, India and Peru. Equator Prize Winners’ shared their stories of resilience in the face of economic and environmental challenges and Friedman framed their stories in light of global economic trends. Friedman also related some parts of his new book, Thank You for Being Late: An Optimist’s Guide to Thriving in an Age of Accelerations, to the struggles and courage of the Equator Prize Winners.
Katie participated by assisting with logistics and facilitation of the dialogues and also by appreciating the natural beauty and wonder of the host site. She loved getting to meet the leaders from local communities and indigenous people, many of whom have won the Equator Prize. She was bolstered by their testimonies and encouraged by their actions to protect their lands from environmental degradation, while also thinking creatively about sustainable economic development options for their communities.
This semester, Katie is continuing to study this question of conservation and human interaction and development in her Environmental and Resource Economics course and an independent study with Dr. Christiana Peppard on Laudato Si and Sustainable Economic Development. After graduation, she hopes to work for an international relief and development organization which strives to live out this balance in its work.