How These North Texas Leaders are Spearheading a Sustainable Future With a New Regional Coalition

Directors from UT Dallas and UT Arlington are teaming up to launch RCE North Texas: one of just seven centers in the U.S. that will focus on focus on three of the United Nations’ 17 sustainable development goals.

The population of North Texas is expected to double by 2050. This is part of why university leaders are helping to lead a new regional coalition of experts to examine the area’s ongoing environmental, social, and economic challenges. 

RCE (the Regional Centre of Expertise on Education for Sustainable Development) North Texas—one of only 168 regional centers worldwide—will be focusing on three of the United Nations’s Sustainable Development Goals for the program: quality education, good health and well-being, and sustainable cities and communities. 

Gary Cocke, UT Dallas’ associate director for sustainability and energy conservation, and Meghna Tare, UT Arlington’s chief sustainability officer, are coordinating the center, which was approved last February by United Nations University. 

“It made sense to collaborate,” Tare said in a statement. “Gary and I work really well together. Being coordinators will help us advance sustainability education within our own institutions. Gary has a lot of engagement with students on the UTD campus, and that is a key part of the RCE.”

Five committees are expected to be set up this year for research and development, governance and monitoring, outreach and communications, education and events, and a youth network for members 25 and younger. Their responsibilities are going to include creating research projects, collecting data, and developing scholarships, which will be spread throughout the committees. 

RCE North Texas officially launched last month with a goal to have these committees up and running by the next quarterly meeting during the summer. On a regional scale, the intent is to accelerate more collaboration with sustainability experts from different fields. 

“As much as possible, we want to be focused on education, dialogue, and collaboration of ideas.”
Meghna Tare

“As much as possible, we want to be focused on education, dialogue, and collaboration of ideas,” Tare said. “Many businesses are designing their strategies around sustainable development, and we want to give them a chance to leverage our expertise and resources.”

There are currently 89 groups interested in the new coalition, including Toyota Motor North America, State Fair of Texas, Dallas Fort Worth International Airport, and the cities of Dallas, Plano, Lewisville, and Denton.

“My overall goal,” Cocke said, “is that through the network we’ll have structure so that all of the stakeholders in sustainability—that means higher education, K-12, nonprofits, municipal government, and corporate partners—all begin speaking the same language when we talk about sustainability.”

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