Environmental Leadership: Emphasizing the Role of Environmental Leaders

By Dr. Nver Khachaturyan

Currently, I am studying at the Leadership School in Yerevan, RA. This is a non-political, non-religious, and non-for-profit foundation that discovers and develops Armenian leaders within the young generation. The School cooperates with local and international partners and believes that in cooperation with prominent Armenian and international leaders, thinkers and organizations, the foundation can support the development of future Armenian leaders. A modern and non-traditional type of education in the school encourages students to be goal-oriented, insightful, and practical and take advantage of networking opportunities. During my studying period, as an environmental engineer, I have started developing my ideas about environmental leadership, which is a very important strategy for solving any kind of environmental problem.

When we talk about leadership, surprisingly, many people first think of political, financial or religious leaders, but let me highlight that leaders are absolutely critical in all fields. Leadership doesn’t have a one-size-fits-all definition; we all have our own ideas about what it means to be a good leader and how to build up our strategy. Hundreds of famous and successful leaders brought up their own definitions about leadership and all are good ones with their specific inspiration, motivation and power.

So, what is environmental leadership and who are the environmental leaders?

Actually, the answer is sometimes hard to find out. Everybody can bring up his/her ideas and thoughts about environmental leadership and leaders. Environmental professionals will concur that environmental leadership has to support all kinds of environmentally action-oriented movements to protect land, aquatic systems, fauna, flora etc., and therefore the environmental leaders have to make the socioeconomic system more harmonious with the environment through ecologically clean technologies, eco-products and environmentally-friendly services. Environmental leaders should also raise the environmental awareness of the public by spreading and supporting the implementation of environmental education programs and the application of environmental laws. Consequently, the more the population is informed, the less pollution and environmental damages we will have. As the public becomes aware of the importance of immediate solutions to environmental problems, they will be more empowered and inspired to prevent all kinds of damages to the environment. For this reason, let’s exhort to all to take care of our environment because it is our mutual home.

What should we do for that?

• Care about the place we live and serve as an example
• Preach that everybody take care of the place he/she lives
• Make responsible decisions to maintain a balanced and healthy environment
• Prevent any kind of obvious risk using the precautionary principle to guide decisions
• Save the environment, because it is our home regardless of the continent, country, city, or village we live in

This list can surely be expanded with more points, let’s just start from the small things, CARE about the environment and maintain the sustainability of the clean environment.

An effective environmental leader is always knowledgeable of and prioritizes current top environmental issues, discusses and analyses them and exchanges ideas with colleagues, makes healthy decisions and implements the decisions in order to achieve a solution to a problem. Hence, let’s conclude that teamwork stimulates much better results, especially, if the solutions are global.

As the famous American author Helen Keller said, “Alone we can do so little, together we can do so much”, so let’s follow the quote. Another leader, a Scottish-American industrialist and philanthropist Andrew Carnegie said, “Teamwork is the ability to work together toward a common vision”. In our case, in environmental leadership, we really do have the common vision: to improve the current state of the environment and the entire world’s inhabitants should be the team members. Environmental problems have to be decreased with the support of each of us, to be as active as we can. To quote the American businessman Ross Perot, “The activist is not the man who says the river is dirty, the activist is the man who cleans up the river”. From this we can conclude that we do not have to only demand and talk, we really have to act ourselves, that’s what we have to do for our global home.

Frankly, I think, our world would not have such deep environmental problems if we had more action-oriented environmental leaders. Of course we have a lot of great environmental leaders such as David Ore, James Hansen, Bill McKibben, Vandana Shiva, William McDonough etc., and surely in the world all the countries have great environmental specialists, but we really have to continuously enlarge our community of environmental professionals, leaders and our power, to work in close contact with each other and collaborate regardless of the country and the continent because most environmental problems are globally connected to each other.

Thus, AEN’s respected readers, please, start making changes from you, as the sage leader Mahatma Gandhi said, “Be the change you wish to see in this world”.

Dr. Nver Khachaturyan is the International Operations Director’s Assistant/Project Assistant with “SAUR” Group’s (France) Armenian Branch “SAUR Sevan Services”