Sustainable Development

Back to listJun 2, 2009

Climate Change Specialist Dr. Habiba Gitay Speaks at SGI-USA's Culture of Peace Distinguished Speakers Series

On June 2, 2009, Dr. Habiba Gitay, senior environmental specialist at the World Bank Institute (WBI), presented the second lecture in the Culture of Peace Distinguished Speaker Series, at SGI-USA's Washington D.C. Culture Center. The event opened with an introduction by SGI-USA Vice General Director Bill Aiken who spoke about the D.C. Culture Center's environmental conservation features, including its rainwater collection system and its rooftop garden.

Since the early 1990s, Dr. Gitay has been involved in climate change research. She is a member of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, which in 2007 won the Nobel Peace Prize, along with former U.S. vice president Al Gore, for raising awareness of the social effects of global climate change.

090602x_env_lec_usa.jpg Dr. Gitay speaks about environmental issues

In her lecture, Dr. Gitay emphasized that climate change produces consequences that affect everyone and spoke about how subtle changes, such as switching to more efficient heating and cooling systems, recycling, using public transportation and buying locally grown produce can make significant differences.

Dr. Gitay also noted cases of governments and ordinary citizens taking action to better the environment, including the No Waste by 2010 Waste Management Strategy for Canberra, Australia, which aims to use unwanted materials as a resource rather than as waste to be discarded, and the Special Program for Soil and Water Conservation and Agroforestry in Burkina Faso, West Africa, which focuses on conserving natural resources while improving living standards.

She encouraged the audience members to initiate programs in their own communities to promote environmental protection, such as creating recycling programs and raising awareness for energy conservation in their schools or workplaces.

Following the lecture, a reception was held, during which the audience could reflect on the ideas presented that evening.

The SGI-USA Culture of Peace Distinguished Speaker Series commenced in 2007 with lectures focusing on one or more of the eight action areas defined by the 1999 U.N. Declaration and Program of Action on a Culture of Peace. The series aims to foster a culture that rejects violence and addresses the root causes of conflict through the power of dialogue.

[Adapted from an article in the June 26, 2009 issue of the World Tribune, SGI-USA; photo courtesy of Philip Rosenberg]