Trent University will confer an honorary degree on former Guyana president Bharrat Jagdeo for his leadership in environmentally progressive policies.
The global champion for the environment advocated for international action to avoid the worst extremes of climate change. During his presidency which ended last year, Guyana embarked on one of the world’s most ambitious low carbon development strategies, maintaining 99.5 per cent of its rainforest and is on track to become the world’s number one user of clean energy by 2017.
Time magazine named Jagdeo a “Hero of the Environment” in 2008.
Jagdeo, who spoke at the university during a visit to the Greater Toronto Area four years ago, said he’s delighted to accept the honour.
“But I interpret it as recognition of the vision and hard work of everyone in Guyana who is striving to show the world that it is possible to create a new global economy built on clean energy and sustainable land use,” he said. “Creating this new economy is one of the defining challenges of our generation and we need centres of learning like Trent University to continue to lead the way to the innovations that the world urgently needs.”
A co-chair of the United Nations roundtable on Reducing Emissions from Deforestation and Forest Degradation in Developing Countries, Jagdeo launched a low carbon strategy in Guyana in 2009 that was viewed as an investment in low carbon infrastructure, employment in low carbon economic sectors and in communities with human capital.
Nearly three-quarters of Guyana – 15 million hectares – is covered in forest and it’s estimated that the only English-speaking South American country could generate approximately $580 million a year by cutting its forests.
For a third world country like Guyana, those funds would go a long way in enhancing infrastructure and the health care and education sectors.
Last year, the International Union for the Conservation of Nature appointed Jagdeo a high level envoy for Sustainable Development in Forest Countries and a Patron in Nature. He was a founding board member of the Global Green Growth Institute, the world’s newest international organization. At the request of world leaders, Jagdeo serves as a roving ambassador for the Amazon, Congo and Borneo-Mekong forest basins.
The university will also bestow an honorary degree on former New Democratic Party of Canada leader, Ed Broadbent.
“I have always admired Trent for its innovative curriculum, the emphasis on undergraduate learning and also for its magnificent location on the Otonabee River,” said Broadbent who was a Member of Parliament for 21 years. “In short, it’s the ideal place to stimulate the minds of young men and women. And, of course, having a campus in Oshawa, my hometown, makes it very special to me.”
Trent’s president and vice-chancellor Dr. Steven Franklin said the university is honouring an international group of individuals for their remarkable achievements and extraordinary contributions to making the world a better place.
“All have had an enormous impact, both as leaders in their respective fields and as advocates for causes such as the environment, education and social justice,” he said. “Their accomplishments will be an inspiration to the graduates attending the convocation ceremonies.”
Jagdeo will be awarded his Doctor of Laws degree on June 5.
This will be his fifth honorary doctorate. He’s the recipient of degrees from the People’s Friendship University of Russia, the University of Central Lancashire and TERI University and DY Patil University in India.