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Global Climate Change Summit: Bringing community and industry leaders together with the University

The Global Climate Change Summit was an excellent example of a community and a University coming together to tackle solutions for an important issue.

On Saturday Sept. 23, the Nevada Leadership Program-University Center for Economic Development, part of the College of Business at the University of Nevada, Reno, hosted a day-long Global Climate Summit. 

Over the course of the day, community and industry leaders were brought together with University faculty and students to discuss a variety of issues pertaining to climate change globally, nationally and locally.   The Summit included discussions in six separate topic areas including Science of Climate Change, Economics of Climate Change, Local Government in Climate Change, Industry in Climate Change, Social Impacts of Climate Change, and Climate Change and National Defense. Bradley Crowell, Director of the Nevada Department of Conservation and Natural Resources, participated in a keynote lunchtime discussion with Angelo Sisante, Graduate Research Assistant with the University Center for Economic Development. 

Attendees, which included community and business leaders, elected and appointed officials, faculty, and students, had the opportunity to engage with each panelist during each session and further shared their ideas, approaches and insights in between each session.  

What sets the 2017 Global Climate Change Summit apart from most academic-style conferences on climate change was the focus on sparking a dialogue among individuals in our community and our state regarding the potential impacts climate change could have on our communities and on our economy.  Summit participants were particularly surprised to hear about the impacts climate change will have on national defense and the possibility of climate change sparking armed conflicts across the global over the next several decades. 

According to the panelists that spoke during the Climate Change and National Defense session, climate change has the potential of sparking armed conflict between nations and within nations by contributing to the loss of arable land further contributing to food insecurity concerns.  Climate change further has the potential of contributing to the loss of scarce potable and fresh water sources, and may further contribute to rapid and unsustainable population migrations globally, nationally and locally as entire neighborhoods, communities, regions, and even nations flee areas negatively impacted by climate change, rising sea levels, and lands no longer capable of supporting human habitation.  

Panelists during the Local Government in Climate Change session emphasized the work that local governments are having in combating climate change at a local level.  Many of the Local Government in Climate Change session panelists emphasized the need for local governments to focus their efforts on supporting sustainable land use development patterns that contribute to economic development, enhancement of quality of life, and ultimately protect and enhance environmental conditions at the local and regional level.  

Not to be outdone by local government, panelists during the Industry in Climate Change emphasized how the private sector has aggressively pursued business strategies that balance profit with environmental protection.  Many of the Industry in Climate Change panelists pointed out that private sector firms, both small scale and large scale, have pioneered new technologies and new business approaches as a sustainable way of improving profitability while mitigating the risk that climate change poses to traditional business practices.  

Moving forward, the Nevada Leadership Program-University Center for Economic Development will publish a series of University Center for Economic Development technical reports summarizing the discussion that was had for each of the six individual sessions.  These session topic technical reports will be made available to policy makers, government officials, community and business leaders, and the public over the next year through a series of one to two hour workshops eventually culminating in the 2018 Global Climate Change Summit that will, again, be held on the main campus of the University of Nevada, Reno in the fall of 2018.  

To learn more about the upcoming events that will follow the 2017 Global Climate Change Summit, make sure to like and follow the Summit's Facebook page at https://www.facebook.com/GCCSummitNLP/ and the Nevada Leadership Program-University Center for Economic Development's website at https://www.unr.edu/business/research-and-outreach/nevada-leadership.        

Fred Steinmann

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