Kaler to co-chair global summit at the University

The October 2015 conference centers on worldwide environmental policy.

by Nick Wicker

A global sustainability group announced earlier this week that University of Minnesota President Eric Kaler will co-chair a summit on environmental policy next year.

The summit, called “Minnesota 2015: Democracy in a Sustainable Future,” will take place at the Minneapolis Convention Center and on parts of the University campus next October. Groups of state and world leaders will converge in the metro area to develop plans they can pitch in their respective countries, according to a June press release.

Club de Madrid, a worldwide association of former presidents and prime ministers such as Bill Clinton and Jimmy Carter, plans to host its board meeting and general assembly on campus during the summit, said Jim Dorsey, Minneapolis attorney and conference coordinator for the group organizing the conference.

“I discussed this with President Kaler, and he agreed that … the University would be a terrific venue for [the Club de Madrid] conference,” Humphrey School of Public Affairs Dean Eric Schwartz said.

Club de Madrid staff combed the campus for a venue and said they liked Coffman Union, Northrop Auditorium and the Humphrey School, but the group hasn’t made any decisions yet, Dorsey said.

Schwartz said hosting the club on campus would be a “wonderful opportunity.”

“It’s an important organization,” he said. “It stands for the principle of the promotion of democracy and human rights throughout the world.”

The University’s strong connection with the Association for the Advancement of Sustainability in Higher Education helped finalize Minneapolis as the conference’s location, said Bill Deef, vice president of international relations for Meet Minneapolis, a team that markets the city as a convention destination.

Deef said former Minneapolis Mayor R.T. Rybak initially expressed interest in hosting the conference during the 2013 Club de Madrid meeting in Australia.

Since both of the Minneapolis conference’s two main attendees — Club de Madrid and AASHE — advocate for environmental reform, they teamed up to bring next year’s meeting to Minneapolis, Deef said.

“It looked like a win-win to put the two groups together and to have them meet over the same time at the end of October,” Deef said.

The conference will include a number of organizations, Dorsey said, like Mayors for Peace, a worldwide coalition of cities committed to the elimination of nuclear weapons. In all, the body represents more than 1 billion people, he said.

The conference will focus on sustainable issues among governments, companies and organizations, according to the release.

“I’m hoping that Minnesota will become known as a global center for sustainability thinking, technology and leadership,” Dorsey said.