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Stewart L. Udall’s Environmental Diplomacy Legacy: A Virtual Centennial Birthday Celebration

Posted: 10/16/2020
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Stewart L. Udall is best known for his eight-year tenure as Secretary of the Interior during the Kennedy and Johnson administrations. In those years (1961 to 1969), and in advance of the environmental movement of the 1970s, he had an enormous impact on the Nation’s public lands and helped enact legislation on water and air quality, endangered species, and sanitation. Later in his career he advocated for solar energy and for Indigenous rights, and wrote prolifically about the environment. He left a strong imprint on those issues, which resonates in the United States today.

All throughout his public career—both in and out of government—Stewart Udall traveled across the globe, meeting with political leaders, including those from Native nations, and with like-minded conservationists, environmentalists, and natural resources managers. Those encounters included exchanges on strategies for preserving and protecting natural lands and resources, reducing pollution, and encouraging sustainable practices, while addressing conflicting interests and perspectives. Without calling it that, Secretary Udall was a prototypical environmental diplomat.

This program will shed light on how Stewart Udall used his communication skills, his training in law, his political acumen and influence, and his expansive vision to promote shared environmental values across borders. After some opening remarks, the program will begin with a presentation by Secretary Udall’s son, Senator Tom Udall (D-NM). That talk will be followed by two substantive keynotes on the theme of the program: Stewart Udall’s public and private work as an environmental diplomat. The first speaker, Stewart Udall’s most recent biographer, Scott Einberger, will review Secretary Udall’s experiences in mitigating conflict by forging domestic and international linkages through pursuit of mutual environmental interests. The second speaker, The Honorable Diane Humetewa, U.S. District Judge, U.S. District Court of Arizona, will address Secretary Udall’s lifelong championing of American Indian Indigenous sovereignty.

The program will then turn to a moderated roundtable panel discussion featuring three individuals who will reflect on Secretary Udall’s legacy of environmental diplomacy. Andrea Gerlak, Research Professor with the Udall Center and at the School of Geography and Development, will moderate. The panelists include:

Karletta Chief (Navajo), Associate Professor in the Department of Environmental Science at The University of Arizona, and a member of the Navajo Nation. Prof. Chief has worked extensively on water issues in Indian Country.

Jennifer Pitt, Colorado River Program Director at the National Audubon Society. Originally with the Environmental Defense Fund, Ms. Pitt has been active for more than two decades as a nongovernmental representative on issues related to environmental and water rights for the Lower Colorado River and Delta.

Kartikeya Singh, Deputy Program Director at the SED Fund (based in the Netherlands), and 2006 Udall Foundation Scholar. Dr. Singh has experience engaging with government, research institutions, intergovernmental organizations, civil society, and private companies in the sustainable development sector.

The panelists will offer reactions to points made by the speakers and respond to questions by the moderator and remote audience members, who will have an opportunity to submit questions to the panelists.

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Organized by the Udall Center for Studies in Public Policy and The University of Arizona Libraries, Special Collections, in cooperation with the Morris K. Udall and Stewart L. Udall Foundation, and partially supported by the David and Eliza King Udall Guest Lecture Endowment.

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