Climate change is a global problem that requires global solutions. A key component to developing and delivering on those solutions is effective leadership.
While O’Neill School faculty work to solve climate challenges through research and by educating tomorrow’s leaders, IU Executive Education provides support and training to the leaders of today.
In late August, more than a dozen global leaders arrived in Indianapolis, part of the Distinguished Humphrey Fellow Program on Climate Change, run in partnership with the Environmental Resilience Institute. Participants from 14 countries were selected for the program, allowing them to exchange knowledge and diverse perspectives about climate action and leadership.
Keltoum Ait Belhaj and Fitrian Ardiansyah were part of the group. Ardiansyah’s work is based in Southeast Asia and focuses on bringing together the private sector, local government, farmer organizations, and financial institutions to promote, develop, and invest in sustainable commodities, supply chains, and more.
He says he wanted to pursue this work to help small farmers sustainably overcome big challenges.
“Even without climate changes, small farmers and local producers face tremendous challenges to meet the demand for more production without jeopardizing the environment,” he says. “With climate change, such challenges will quadruple or even more. Finding good and appropriate solutions within the context of climate change is key to helping farmers in developing countries.”
Ait Belhaj serves as the head of the Green Economy Department for Morocco’s Ministry of Energy Transition and Sustainable Development. She says she was motivated to think more deeply about her country’s public policy and says the fellowship as an opportunity to strengthen her expertise.
“Today, the whole world is talking about climate change and several countries have seriously engaged in this green transition, which is now considered a new paradigm that affects the entire development process, not only at the economic level but also at the societal and environmental levels,” she explains.
During their three weeks in the United States, the fellows were matched with climate-related organizations across the Midwest. They also spent time at Indiana University in Bloomington and at IUPUI in Indianapolis learning about faculty research on climate change and how to best communicate about the issue. That includes leadership development training with IU Executive Education.
“I greatly appreciated the lessons on personal development and the coaching on how to become a good leader capable of remaining successful and motivated,” says Ait Belhaj. “We learned that even with multiple falls come the celebration of small successes in order to achieve the main goal.”
For her, the fellowship and Executive Education’s leadership training provided an opportunity for the group to share their experiences and exchange ideas. She and Ardiansyah both say that open communication helped open their eyes to how others view climate change and potential solutions.
“One of the program’s strengths was the ability and willingness of the IU Executive Education faculty to listen, understand, and exchange information with the fellows,” Ardiansyah adds. “They were able to trigger a variety of questions that brought out curiosity from the fellows.”
Now back in their home nations, Ardiansyah and Ait Belhaj are already putting their new leadership skills into practice. They’re building research relationships, forming new networks, and developing partnerships in their countries and around the world.
They say that’s thanks to the combination of skills they learned from U.S. climate organizations, university faculty, and IU Executive Education—collaborative lessons that have strengthened the foundation for a growing global network of climate change leaders for the present and the future.