932. A Day in the Life–What's It Really Like to Be an Environmental Economist?
“As I say, I plant seeds, I manage my garden, and that includes planting new seeds. So, at a certain moment when I started working with schools and children, and then fast forward to this year where I heard on NPR that 50% of teachers don’t teach about sustainability because either they don’t have the tools, they don’t have the knowledge, or they deem it too political. Well, that means that 50% of kids are not aware of the reality they’re living in and are probably not aware of the opportunities as well. Crisis equals opportunity. So, if we’re dealing with the crisis–which in my opinion is a human development crisis by the way–there is a chance that we equally have as many opportunities to turn this Titanic around. So, I am more and more and more invested in education for youth.”
Pamela Peeters is an environmental economist and sustainability strategist. She consults with companies globally and develops educational programs for youth with her “Eco Hero” program now established in nine countries. An author, filmmaker, and educator, she was on the marketing team of the U. S. Partnerships for the UNESCO Decade for Sustainable Education and received an honorary fellowship from the Vrije Universiteit Brussels in 2015 for her contributions to the field of Sustainable Development. She’s also a former Research Fellow in Economics from Columbia University and current Fellow of the Explorers Club. She just launched a wisdom card deck called “ELEMENTS” that features her photography and poetry.
The Most Impactful Turning Point?
My second job out of college I was retained by the Belgium Foreign Trade Office. As hard as this was for me to imagine at the time, in my early 20’s I had my own office in the Belgium Embassy in New Delhi, India, where I established a framework of what the industry would look like in the environmental technology sector. It was amazing work, and I loved integrating myself into the Indian community. I received a couple of accolades for my work there and returned from that assignment a transformed woman, determined to continue an international lifestyle.
The Most Powerful Lessons Learned?
Many lessons that cover my lifetime:
1. Growing up in Keir Berrigan in the countryside near Belgium my daily life was spent in nature, whether bicycling to school or simply playing outside. This was the starting point for my lifelong dedication to mother earth.
2. When I attended the Academy of Arts at 12 to study ballet, I loved connecting with other creative kids, which opened me up to the simple joy of exploring myself and the act of creating on my own terms.
3. I began journaling at the age of 8 and continue to do so today, which I find a very important part of ongoing self-discovery.
4. At 12 I was already researching and gathering information about all things related to nature and the environment. With three friends we started a magazine—Grab the Green—which attracted a good following of not only family and friends, but students and teachers in our community.
5. In secondary school biology was one of my favorite subjects that allowed me to dig deeper into plant life and the mystery of our planet. I have 23 different plants in my home today.
6. There are three vital pillars in our society: people, the economy and the planet.
7. Every individual has their own unique set of talents and it is up to them to do whatever it takes to explore, find and use them for themselves and the rest of us.
8. Stamina is a prerequisite. Some people find their gifts and create their personal visions early in life; others do not. What matters is that they find them and use them.
9. Surrounding yourself with supportive people who support and encourage you is seminal.
On Her Bookshelf
Powering the Dream, by Alex Matridou
Carbon Shock: A Tale of Risk and Calculus on the Front Lines of the Disrupted Global Economy, by Marc Schapiro
The Secret Life of Plants, by Peter Tompkins and Christopher Bird
Strategy for Sustainability, by Adam Werbach
Fast Food Nation, by Eric Schlosser
Connecting With Pamela Peeters
Websites: pamelapeeters.com and myecohero.com and sustainable-planet.net
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