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HDI Higher Education AllianceUN Official: Academic & Creative Community Engagement is Critical in Combating Climate Change

November 15, 2012

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Wilkes University
Wilkes University
Wilkes University
Albany State University Hosts Environmental Summit

On Thursday, November 15th, 2012, Mohammad Reza Salamat, Senior Program Officer on the UN Secretary General's Climate Change Support Team, traveled to Wilkes University to deliver a lecture as part of the Humpty Dumpty Institute’s Higher Education Alliance (HEA).

Mr. Salamat focused his remarks on Climate Change & the United Nations, a particularly timely topic in the wake of Hurricane Sandy, whose devastating effects were still felt on campus, and prompted a wider discussion on the perception of climate change at the UN, in the US and among the scientific community. “The increase in severity and frequency of storms is one of the immediate effects of climate change” said Professor James Case, who currently teaches on global climatic change at Wilkes and was one of the first to teach about climate change in the US.

Wilkes University’s Earth and Environmental Science lecturer, Lt. Col. Mark Kaster agreed, noting that as the oceans and the atmosphere warm up, the more extreme weather events occur. “Global models indicate more extreme events however there is no positive answer. These are normal patterns but we do not know what climate change’s effect will be on these patterns” Kaster said.

"Collectively communities and nations need to do everything they can to reduce their carbon footprint," said Professor Case. Mr. Salamat agreed, and explained how the UN works with the scientific community to recommend policy reforms and practical actions that Member States can take. He also focused on power of public diplomacy in rallying political will and public support. He singled out and commended two of Humpty Dumpty's programs in particular -- The Higher Education Alliance (HEA) and the Global Creative Forum (GCF) as effective and innovative outreach initiatives working in this area, “How many articles do you see about climate change? I don’t think you see enough. The creative community and entertainment industry are important. They have started to pay attention. In fact, the Secretary-General of the United Nations paid a visit to Los Angeles two times, at the invitation of The Humpty Dumpty Institute, to meet with actors and other representatives of the entertainment community, where he shared these concerns about global issues, particularly climate change. He invited them and encouraged them to produce some interesting things, like documentaries on climate change as a way to capture your attention.” Mr. Salamat said.

Mr. Salamat also stressed the need for broader public education on climate change and UN issues, and urged the academic community to follow Wilkes’ example by integrating a global affairs into curriculum and campus-dialogue. Dean Linda Winker of Wilkes University added that “The Humpty Dumpty Institute has brought the United Nations to us, providing our students with an intimate look at global issues and the individuals who are dedicating their lives to addressing these issues.  The speakers from the United Nations provide an inside analysis of United Nations programs, how they operate, and policy decisions across the globe.  For many of our students, it is a powerful experience to meet and talk with individuals such Romania Ambassador Simona Miculescu or Chad Ambassador Christopher E. Goldthwait.  The program design which includes a luncheon with students as well as a public lecture facilitates interaction, exchange and learning on multiple levels,"

"We need to engage people from all walks of life, particularly the universities on global issues.  The more you know the UN the more sensitive you will be to global issues." Mr. Salamat said.

Mohammad Reza Salamat currently serves as a Senior Program Officer at the UN Secretary General's Climate Change Support Team, based in New York, USA. He joined the Division for Sustainable Development of the Department of Economic and Social Affairs (DESA) as an expert on policy aspects of climate change in January 2002. As a member of the Secretary General’s Climate Change Support Team, his primary responsibilities were providing policy analysis and advice on the ongoing UNFCCC negotiations in the run-up to Copenhagen, and contributing to the preparations for the Summit on Climate Change convened by the Secretary General in New York on September 22nd 2009.

Before joining the United Nations, Mr. Salamat worked as a chief climate change negotiator for his country, Iran, and also as one of the spokespersons of the Group of Developing Countries (G-77) in the lead-up negotiations to Kyoto Protocol and the ensuing negotiations. He played an instrumental role in achieving consensus on the outstanding issues in the run-up to the COP-7 session in Marrakesh in 2001, which in turn paved the way for ratification of the Kyoto Protocol.

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Muhlenberg Oct. 25, 2012 >