GEP Top Talk: Interview with Erik Solheim, a former Under-Secretary-General and UN Environment Executive Director

Erik Solheim, the former UN Environment Executive Director and Under-Secretary-General of the United Nations, was invited to Tsinghua University to deliver a lecture on "World Earth Day 2023: Invest in Our Planet". 

This event was organized by School of Environment, Tsinghua and Student Center for Global Competence Development, and co-organized by Global Environment Program and Student Association on Net-zero Future.  

Professor Liu Shuming the Chairman of School Council, Professor Wang Shuxiao the Chair Professor of Global Environment Program at Tsinghua University, Pang Xiao the Deputy Director of the Secretariat of International Coalition for Green Development on the Belt and Road, Zhang Runzhou and Shi Zhidan the Deputy Director and Assistant Director of Center for Global Competence Development at Tsinghua University, Fu Yanan the Foreign Affairs Manager of Institute of Climate Change and Sustainable Development at Tsinghua University and other guests, as well as 60 over students attended the event. This event was hosted by Angelina Sim Liling, an undergraduate student from the Global Environment Program.

Professor Liu Shuming, the head of the school's council, gave a warm welcome address to kick off the event. Professor Liu began by outlining Mr. Solheim's prior accomplishments in global environmental governance. He then spoke about the School of Environment at Tsinghua University's contributions to global environmental governance over the years, including founding the Global Environment Program, overseeing the Model Conference of Parties on Climate Change, helping students found various environmental societies, and more.

Mr. Solheim initiated the talk by sharing his personal experience in China, he talked about the comparison of the air quality and lifestyle of the people from 10 years ago and today. He also discussed the development models of developed countries such as Britain, Singapore and other countries. In his opinion, the traditional economic development paradigm is often accompanied by serious pollution, but today's high technology can efficiently combine both environmental protection and economy development. However, issues from earlier development still exist, including air pollution, ecological harm, and climate change. In order to underscore the four key areas of energy, transportation, technology advancement and circular economy, and environmental preservation, Mr. Solheim drew on a variety of examples, including solar panels, new energy cars, and others. We'll usher in a better future with the combined efforts of all nations in the world.

As part of the roundtable discussion with Mr. Solheim, five undergraduate students from the School of Environment, Liang Seongin, Cheng Housang, Sim Liling, Liu Jingyi, and Chong Chunperng, took turns talking about the following topics: environment and sustainable development, the Belt and Road Green Development International Research Institute, deglobalization, international issues, as well as questions about personal experiences. To each inquiry, Mr. Solheim provided a thorough and thoughtful answer. Mr. Solheim urged young people to get more involved in environmental governance and to play a bigger part in defending the environment.

Erik Solheim is the former UN Environment Executive Director and Under-Secretary-General of the United Nations. He now serves as the foreign vice chairman of the China Council for International Cooperation on Environment and Development. Mr. Solheim was Norway's Minister of Environment and International Development from 2005 to 2012. During this time, he launched the global rainforest conservation program, leading to far-reaching national legislation, including the Nature Diversity Act and relevant legislation to protect Oslo's urban forest.

GEP Top Talk is a special activity guided by GEP tutorial group, students are encouraged to interview experts in the field of global environmental affairs, and invite them to give talks at School of Environment. Top Talk is mainly organized and hosted by GEP students. During the presentation, students have the opportunity to network with professionals, gain professional information, hone their communication and leadership abilities, and obtain insightful career development advice.

Source:  School of Environment 

Editors: Guo Lili, Maria Vula

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