Chestertown, MD, November 19, 2003 — Dr. Wayne Bell, director of the Washington CollegeCenter for the Environment and Society, and College alumna Jill Brewer '03, are traveling to Bangkok, Thailand to present at the Sixth International Conference on the Environmental Management of Enclosed Coastal Seas (EMECS), November 18-21. Joining the larger Maryland delegation, Bell and Brewer will share results from the first Rural Communities Leadership program for the Eastern Shore, conducted during the first-half of 2003.
“Through discussions held during the Rural Communities Leadership working sessions, we concluded that one of the groups primary findings was that top-down governmental environmental protection programs don't always stick,” said Bell. “They tend to vacillate with the political and economic climate. On the other hand, local programs with a grassroots buy-in tend to be self-sustaining and are more cost-effective for governments. When environmentalism starts locally, through consensus-building in our communities, citizens are more willing to commit to a vision for their quality of life and long-term policies to preserve their local environment.”
Jill Brewer, who helped run the Rural Leadership program while a student last semester, will present these findings and share recommendations with counterparts in other nations. The paper is titled, “A Bio-Regional Approach to the Chesapeake Bay: The Role of the Citizen and Government Involvement in a Watershed-Based Program.” Bell hopes that his EMECS contacts will foster more university exchanges and research opportunities for Washington College students, as well as promote a spirit of cooperation between nations.
“Like no other time in history, we have to think about other people in the world and be open to their concerns—sharing instead of telling and listening in a spirit of cooperation,” said Bell. “The world is getting smaller, and EMECS has set a tone for a cooperative approach to the world's challenges, in this case environmental.”
The biannual EMECS conferences are organized by the International EMECS Center in Kobe, Japan, first established to promote the preservation of Japan's Seto Inland Sea. The EMECS concept developed in the mid-1980s when environmentalists, researchers and policymakers involved with the Chesapeake Bay realized the Bay restoration program was being implemented with little knowledge of the information, methods and results gained by other estuarine and enclosed coastal sea programs in the U.S. and abroad. Concurrently, Governor Toshitami Kaihara of Japan's Hyogo Prefecture had similar concerns while developing initiatives for the environmental restoration of the Seto Inland Sea. Through the cooperation of these two groups, EMECS was founded and now supports a worldwide network concerned with preserving the health and environmental quality of the planet's enclosed coastal seas. The theme of EMECS 2003 is Comprehensive and Responsible Coastal Zone Management for Sustainable and Friendly Coexistence between Nature and People.
Alumna Jill Brewer received her B.A. in sociology from Washington College in May 2003 and was honored that year with the Margaret Horsley Award given annually to the graduating major who has shown in his or her work the clearest understanding of human behavior. She lives in Oregon.