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UMD and Climate Action 2016

Dear University of Maryland community,

Last week, the University of Maryland was a co-host of the United Nations-sponsored “Climate Action 2016” summit in Washington, D.C. for some 600 invited leaders from around the world. This summit was preceded by a “Climate Action Forum” on our campus that drew over 500 participants from the state and beyond.

I would like to express my appreciation and congratulations to Dean Robert Orr of our School of Public Policy, and to many other deans, faculty, staff, and students, for their herculean efforts in helping organize these two conclaves.

Their work—in partnership with that of the other co-hosts, including the World Bank, Rockefeller Foundation, Michael Bloomberg, and the World Business Council for Sustainable Development—helped advance the climate implementation agenda: (1) mobilize multi-stakeholders’ coalitions and (2) align policy and politics with science in order to realize the fearless vision of the historic Paris Agreement signed in April 2016: a green economy and society by 2050.

The worldwide academic community participated. There were representatives of 25 leading research universities from all continents that comprise the Universitas 21 consortium, including UMD. Pursuant to our land-grant mission to put knowledge into practice, our faculty, students and staff from various academic disciplines met with leaders from the governmental, business, finance, non-profit, and civil society sectors. Together, they sought solutions to the existential challenge of our era—mitigation of, and resiliency to, global warming.

UMD student volunteers and participants were everywhere. They took part in inter-generational conversations. At the summit, they set-up an amazing digital media hub to share with the world the urgency of climate action. Millennials will be the first generation to experience the full impact of climate change. They may also be the last generation to be able to do something about it.

I look forward to campus-wide conversations on how UMD will continue to be a leader in education, research, innovation, and action to create a sustainable future for our planet and our descendants.


Wallace D. Loh