The University of Guam is the newest member of the Global Consortium for Sustainability Outcomes, an invitation-only international network of universities and research institutes advancing solutions to sustainability challenges through research, development, and capacity building.
“This is huge,” said Dr. Anita Borja Enriquez, UOG’s senior vice president for Academic Affairs. “Being part of GCSO will bring a lot of possibilities and funding opportunities to improve sustainability on our island while also contributing evidence-based research to sustainability solutions worldwide.”
Enriquez led a UOG delegation to Arizona State University in February that resulted in the invitation to join.
The delegation shared UOG’s sustainability initiatives with ASU president Michael M. Crow, who has committed ASU to sustainability and also provides ASU staff to support GCSO. Crow subsequently decided to invest in the UOG Center for Island Sustainability and have ASU sponsor half of its GCSO membership dues for the first year. Hundred percent of dues are returned to members to execute projects.
“UOG’s niche focus on island sustainability will bring unique value to the consortium’s research portfolio, in addition to its wider reach to global sustainability partners,” Enriquez said.
The consortium was particularly interested in UOG as an island institution, since islands often experience sustainability issues first, to include climate change impacts and resource depletion, said Dr. Austin Shelton, executive director for CIS. Shelton will serve as UOG’s representative in the 12-member network.
As part of the consortium, CIS will interact regularly with GCSO’s other international member institutions and high-caliber researchers to develop competitive funding proposals and implement sustainability solutions.
“CIS has become a focal institute for adapting and modeling sustainable technologies to move our island region toward a sustainable future,” Shelton said. “Now that we’re part of this international network, it greatly expands our capability to accomplish that.”
CIS already conducts solutions-oriented research. One ongoing project at CIS is the GROW initiative, or Guam Restoration of Watersheds, which Shelton said is preparing to use drones to drop seeds of native plants on mountains in need of reforestation to reduce erosion and improve the health of downstream coral reefs.
“GCSO is interested in funding projects like these that are actually implementing solutions,” he said.
GCSO generates and tests a wide range of sustainability solutions that include technologies, policies, economic incentives, social change, and cultural practices.
Other member institutions of GCSO include Arizona State University and Portland State University as well as universities and colleges in Hong Kong, Thailand, Mexico, Germany, and the United Kingdom. (UOG)