In early October, San Jose, Costa Rica, bustled with more than 1,500 government, civil society and business leaders from across the globe. On their minds: the climate crisis. They were participating in PreCOP25, a high-level gathering to prepare for future international climate negotiations. EARTH University graduates from a wide range of cohorts attended PreCOP to advance the idea of fighting the climate crisis through sustainable agriculture.
Here is what a few of them had to say:
A leader within the Central American Bank for Economic Integration, José Efraín Deras (’98, Honduras) said that his EARTH education – which he described as “remarkably special, scientific, respectful of social and environmental balance, and highly entrepreneurial” – got him where he is today. The knowledge and experiences he gained at EARTH have significantly aided him in professional projects involving climate change mitigation and adaptation, resilient infrastructure and housing, and more.
Finishing her master’s degree in sustainability and entrepreneurship at INCAE Business School, Priscila Picado (’10, Costa Rica) is currently developing biodegradable packaging material. During her previous work at the Inter-American Institute for Cooperation on Agriculture, she contributed to innovative research and climate change projects. “EARTH students are not always conscious of the University’s environmental focus because we get used to it while studying. The moment we leave campus, however, we fully realize how different it is there: not needing a car, the biodiversity, the harmonious coexistence, the progressive waste sorting,” Priscila said… I think environmentalism gets inside our DNA as EARTH students.” Although she worries that a handful of Latin American institutions and private companies fail to understand the cruciality of sustainability, oftentimes viewing it as little more than an extra expense, she remains convinced that every action counts. “Sometimes we think that an initiative is not going to yield anything meaningful, but we have to understand that we are sowing a seed,” she added. “We probably will not see it bloom, but we were able to plant it.”
A program coordinator within the impact platform EARTH Futures, Karina Poveda (’13, Costa Rica) works to empower vulnerable rural communities. She believes that the fight against climate change requires multisectoral work and the involvement of all voices within society, especially those of indigenous peoples. “Their knowledge is greatly important. They must be part of the decision-making processes,” she said. “Usually working in forested areas, they have experience that is highly valuable for negotiations.” She praises PreCOP for addressing those ideas head on.
Activities such as PreCOP bring together leaders who work to propel change through thoughtful action. The participation of EARTH graduates demonstrates, once again, their active commitment to building more prosperous and just societies.