While the SDD community was occupied in securing their countries’ positions at the Advanced International Environmental Politics simulation, another negotiation conference (IPMS) was being held elsewhere in the Netherlands. Little did we know that the godfather of Sustainable Development Diplomacy, William (Bill) Moomaw, would be there. Fortunately, Tabitha Muriuki was well-informed and contacted Bill on our behalf. So when Bill agreed to meet, two cars worth of SDD students headed for Driebergen to meet up.
Soon it became evident that Dr. Moomaw was not a frightening academic. Bill started his career in chemistry during the time of Rachel Carson’s Silent Spring and became inspired. When he received an opportunity to connect his technical expertise with the environmental cause, he took it and became one of the first environmental scientists. Being at the heart of the creation of landmark environmental legislation such as the U.S. Clean Air Act and the Clean Water Act, he was and is a thoroughbred Sustainable Development Diplomat. Since then, he has been actively involved in shaping environmental policy, from the vast amount of research organizations and think tanks that he has headed to his contributions to the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, with whom he won the 2007 Nobel Peace Prize.
It wasn’t however until many years later that Moomaw coined the concept of Sustainable Development Diplomacy himself. Since then, it has come a long way from being an obscure thought to a widely recognized term that is slowly finding its way into mainstream environmental discourse.
Bill could talk about SDD, and more. But what was particularly striking was his ability to tell a story and captivate an audience. Besides this, he showed a genuine interest in our student group and even shared some of his yet-to-be-published research with us later. Overall, it was a worthwhile visit. Not to mention the Thai food that the students had as a reward for their ‘hard work’ during the day.
The Sustainable Development Diplomacy students would like to express their gratitude to Bill for having us, and is looking forward to more events like these in the future.