PA Environmental Resource Consortium conference looks towards sustainable future

With a focus on the 17 U.N. Sustainable Development Goals, conference will aim to establish a unified sustainability conversation across Pennsylvania

A key focus of the 2019 PERC Conference on a "Blueprint for the Future" will be to discuss how Pennsylvania's network of higher education institutions can collectively support implementation of the 17 Sustainable Development Goals across the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania. Credit: Courtesy of the United NationsAll Rights Reserved.

UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. — On April 9, Penn State will serve as host for the Pennsylvania Environmental Resource Consortium (PERC) annual conference at the University Park campus. This year’s day-long conference is titled “Blueprint for the Future” and will focus on the United Nations’ 17 Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) and the role higher education can play in helping achieve their implementation. 

Peter Buckland, academic programs manager in Penn State’s Sustainability Institute and an executive committee member of PERC, proposed the theme for this year’s conference in hopes that colleges and universities across Pennsylvania can gain greater knowledge of the SDGs and more effectively work to implement them in both the Commonwealth and globally by 2030. The goal is for this year’s theme to evolve into a multi-year, cross-campus initiative.

“People within colleges and universities know that we face really critical challenges when it comes to water, energy and the right that all people have to a healthy environment,” Buckland explained. “This conference brings those people together to learn from one another and to generate the collective will to apply our work towards creating a better future.”

Buckland sees this conference as a way for colleges and universities to collaborate and challenge each other and possibly co-create a platform for action that can be introduced to all of Pennsylvania.

PERC is made up of over 70 member and affiliate Pennsylvania colleges and universities, Penn State included. As stated on its website, it was “created in the belief that higher education has a leading role in creating a sustainable future and that working together on a statewide level can help to bring about that future.” Josh Hooper, PERC’s executive director, noted that its conferences can help to widen people’s understanding of sustainability, which catalyzes even more sustainability action at colleges and universities. 

Faculty, staff and students from many colleges and universities will join guest speaker Caroline Fox, deputy director of Sustainable Development Solutions Network USA, and keynote speaker John Quigley, current director of the Center for Environment, Energy and Economy at Harrisburg University and former secretary of both the Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection and the Department of Conservation and Natural Resources.

“It’s great to have a conference to bring people together, but what’s more important is to continue the excitement and actually implement the ideas,” Hooper concluded. 

Registration for the conference can be found here, along with a complete agenda.

Last Updated September 20, 2019