Last Friday, April 27, I had the honor of accepting a Leadership Award bestowed to me by the Young Americas Business Trust (YABT) and the Organization of American States (OAS) during their annual Spirit of the Americas celebration in Washington, DC. As I was accepting it, I thought how lucky I am to receive recognition for doing things I really believe in and enjoy doing.
Since we started the partnership with the OAS/YABT for the Eco-Challenge four years ago, we have had an incredible journey. What started as a small initiative is now becoming a broader and bigger idea and we are expanding our collaboration further.
I truly believe that the private sector needs to take a more active role in addressing the critical issues we face as society. I am a believer that sustainable development cannot be achieved until the public and private sectors and civil society move at the same speed and with the same energy to address the issues that slow down our progress.
Our responsibility as leaders is not looking into what we alone can develop. It is about fostering the environment for ourteams to flourish. It is about identifying and promoting partnerships. It is about letting go of the individual focus and having a holistic view.
Our Latin-American a region of contrasts; From having the richest individual on the Forbes list to people living on less than $2 a day; and from having a penetration of cell phones that is reaching one per head to a lack of safe water in rural and urban areas.
It is indeed our responsibility as leaders, to help address these issues. In our case we thought that trying to tie the ingenuity, creativity and resourcefulness of the Youth of the Americas and focusing them on addressing, in an economically viable way, the environmental challenges we face could be an excellent starting point. This is how the Eco-Challenge was born.
This year, in its third edition, the Eco-Challenge became the largest award category of the TIC Americas with more than 1,000 teams participating. This project that started in the Americas has now the potential of becoming a worldwide initiative.
This experience has confirmed for me that we must work with our youth. They carry the energy and the passion to make change happen, and if we properly motivate and nurture it, we can achieve amazing transformation.
It is because we believe in the power of youth, that we have developed another initiative aimed at educating our very young population, trying to shape their minds and hearts at a younger age so that when they reach the wonderful years of youth, they become the transformational that the Americas so badly need.
During the celebration I announced this new initiative – Aprendizaje Verde (Green Learning). It was developed by PepsiCo in partnership with the Tecnologico de Monterrey, the Young Americas Business Trust, the Organization of American States and Televisa to provide state of the art, virtual education, to train elementary school teachers on how to educate their students on Environmental conservation.
Our aim is to provide free environmental education for teachers across the region and offer them fun and simple tools that they can use in their classrooms to teach children about climate change, water conservation, waste management, recycling, etc. I encourage you to visit it at: www.aprendizajeverde.net
Imagine the energy and transformational power we can create, if we have a new generation of citizens that begin to understand environmental issues during their childhood. I have always thought that I may have been too old when I started to develop awareness of environmental issues impacting our daily life, and that somehow ignited the passion in me to address this issue since childhood.
It has been an amazing and humbling experience to watch groups of our youth, of that future of the Americas, working creatively to develop solutions that aim at achieving sustainable development. It has been really encouraging to see that we can find solutions that allow for environmentally sustainable, economic and social growth.
I am deeply honored by the recognition that YABT and OAS gave me, but believe me, the best recognition possible comes from seeing the smiles and progress achieved from those who we have touched and helped during these years.
This is the Spirit that we want to continue fostering in the Americas.
For more information please visit: http://www.myybiz.net/yabt/main/NEWS/dc042712