Written by: Madeleine Wong, CRB Student Advisory Board Member, UGBA and Environmental Economics & Policy ’22
On April 27, 2021 the Crown Prince of Norway, His Royal Highness (H.R.H) Haakon Magnus, virtually visited the state of California, making a special stop at his alumnus campus of the University of California, Berkeley. After graduating with a Bachelor’s degree in political science from UC Berkeley, H.R.H. still engages with students from the campus he once called home. During this inaugural virtual visit to California, students from the UC Berkeley campus talked with H.R.H. about sustainability, how students view some of the world’s biggest challenges, and how their personal studies aim to make an impact in the future. The students who contributed to this segment of the visit were Madeleine Wong (She/Her), Chloe Olsen (She/Her), Peter F. Grinde-Hollevik (He/Him), and Mahon Walsh (He/Him).
As students who had taken Professor Robert Strand’s class on Sustainable Capitalism in the Nordics, they prepared to speak to the Crown Prince for the first time. Madeleine Wong, a rising senior studying Business Administration and Environmental Economics and Policy, led the preparation and discussion. She wanted to bring an intersectional approach to sustainability and address the environmental and social issues that arise with climate change. Chloe Olson, a rising junior studying Conservation and Resource Studies, provided insight on student life at Berkeley and her perspective through an environmental health lens. Peter F. Grinde-Hollevik, a rising sophomore studying Data Science and Environmental Economics and Policy, brought his perspective as an international student from Norway and his interest in green technology in the Bay Area. Mahon Walsh, a rising senior studying environmental engineering, assisted behind the scenes in helping all of the others prepare and served as an alternate during the event.
The urgency of climate change that Chloe talked about sheds light on how students are thinking. She exemplifies this through sharing about the “fire season” students at UC Berkeley experience in the Bay Area and how food waste issues in the US present an opportunity to reduce greenhouse gas emissions. She notes that students are looking for purpose in their future careers and want employers who are creating a positive difference in the world.
Madeleine addresses what she believes is the most important work for the next 5 years. She acknowledges the role that individuals, corporations, NGOs, and governments each play in combating climate change and focuses on the need to build out the infrastructure for circular systems so that consumers are not burdened with what to do when things inevitably break and that products should be designed as circular from the start. She also notes that energy consumption and large corporations within the fossil fuel industry are critical players when it comes to managing greenhouse gas emissions and the responsibility this industry holds for their negative impacts on people and the environment.
Peter believes that climate change is the biggest issue of our generation and talks through his personal journey of understanding how diverse perspectives are needed to tackle climate change on an international level. H.R.H agreed that he once thought that common ground would be the solution but has learned how nuance impacts the complexities of climate solutions. Chloe also shared how she sees value in studying biodiversity and energy abroad in Copenhagen and Iceland. Madeleine added an acknowledgement that BIPOC, specifically Indigenous communities, have historically protected a majority of our world’s biodiversity and how their historical knowledge is important to advancing environmental justice.
Throughout this conversation with the Crown Prince, students were able to explore the role of California and Norway’s partnership in paving a future. After reflecting on this experience with the Crown Prince, it is clear that the future of the world requires both innovative, forward thinking as well as historical learning perspectives.
If you are interested in learning more you can check out the YouTube recording or visit the event website.
About the Author
Madeleine Wong – UGBA and Environmental Economics & Policy ’22
Madeleine is a third year pursuing simultaneous degrees in Business Administration at Haas and Environmental Economics and Policy at the College of Natural Resources. She currently serves on the CRB Student Advisory Board and is interested in learning about how businesses can truly be sustainable in a capitalistic society by exploring system level change. Outside of her formal education, this 20 year old is continuing to work on her personal journey of understanding her individual impact and intersectional environmentalism.