Yale Environmental Sustainability Summit Focused on Change Makers

By many measures, 2017 has been a challenging year. From a devastating hurricane season to wildfires raging across California’s wine country, recent events have tested the very notion of environmental sustainability. But organizers of the second biennial Yale Environmental Sustainability Summit (YESS) insist that these challenges also present numerous opportunities for people to work together to create a more sustainable future.
Yale Environmental Sustainability Summit Registration Open for November Conference lux 420
The two-day event, being held at Yale on November 3 and 4, will focus on catalyzing, cultivating, and connecting sustainability-driven change makers. The event is open to the public, but registration is required.
Envisioned and organized entirely by alumni volunteers from schools and departments across the university — including the Yale School of Forestry & Environmental Studies, Yale School of Management, Yale Law School, Yale School of Public Health, Yale Department of Geology and Geophysics, and Yale College — the summit will bring together alumni and other experts from government, business, higher education, and the non-profit sector for discussions on ways to build a more sustainable future.

“YESS is a unique event because its content and purpose are driven by alumni,” said Sara Smiley Smith ’07 M.E.Sc./M.P.H, ’16 Ph.D., YESS co-chair. “It is built by practitioners who are working in the field saying, ‘This is what I think we need to talk about.’”

Other co-chairs are Timothy Allred ’99 M.E.M./M.B.A., and Emily Grady ’15 M.E.M.

This year’s summit will explore how to expand the network of people who are thinking about solutions, and how to build a more diverse community. Elizabeth Yeampierre, a Puerto Rican native and executive director of UPROSE, Brooklyn’s oldest Latino community-based organization, will deliver the opening keynote address titled, “Climate Justice: From Brooklyn to Puerto Rico.”
YESS is a unique event because its content and purpose are driven by alumni. It is built by practitioners who are working in the field saying, ‘This is what I think we need to talk about.
— Sara Smiley Smith, YESS co-chair
From there, a series of plenary panel discussions will explore a range of topics, from transforming the food system, to climate justice, to the impacts of climate change on public health, to the future of renewable energy in the American West.

Other topics will include the state of electric and autonomous vehicles, industrial ecology, tools for effective storytelling, corporate sustainability, and carbon pricing.

“It is inspiring to see the real impact our alumni are having worldwide in every conceivable sector and discipline,” said F&ES Dean Indy Burke, who will moderate the closing plenary panel. “Having so many of them come together for this event is a great opportunity to learn more about their innovative work and to discuss how together we can address the really complex challenges facing our planet.”

The bipartisan event will also feature two former EPA Administrators: William Reilly ’62 B.A., a Republican and Chairman Emeritus at the World Wildlife Fund who will join the closing panel titled, “Moving Ahead: Change Making, Sound Science, and the Rule of Law”; and Gina McCarthy, a Democrat, who will appear in conversation with Daniel Esty ’86 J.D., Hillhouse Professor of Environmental Law and Policy at F&ES and Yale Law, on the topic, “Maintaining Environmental Momentum in the Age of Trump.”

“One of the things that’s been most exciting to me in this planning process is working with people who are not giving up, who are not backing down, but instead saying, how can we come together, expand our networks in new ways, and take steps in a positive direction,” said Smiley Smith.
View the detailed schedule of events and register for the Yale Environmental Sustainability Summit here.
PUBLISHED: October 17, 2017
Note: Yale School of the Environment (YSE) was formerly known as the Yale School of Forestry & Environmental Studies (F&ES). News articles posted prior to July 1, 2020, refer to the School's name at that time.