7th Annual Environmental Leadership Summit 

September 23, 2023


The 7th Annual Environmental Summit was held Sat Sept 23, 2023 at SDSU and focused on “Stewardship”.

A Newcomer’s Perspective on the Seventh Annual Environmental Leadership Summit of 2023

This year’s Annual Environmental Leadership Summit served to unite the past, present, and future generations of environmental advocates in a day of promoting the stewardship of San Diego’s lands and coastlines. What is one’s responsibility to the areas we inhabit and towards the youth we expect to take up our place? It was questions like this that the Summit sought to answer. For two new volunteers of the Environmental Center of San Diego, it is a day we will not soon forget. The following are testimonials from Daniela Nelson, MSc candidate from King’s College London, and Abigail Irwin, current undergraduate student at San Diego State University. It highlights their experiences from the Summit and takeaways from a day filled with lessons learned.

“As a student returning home from finishing up a postgraduate program abroad, I was eager to find a way to become more involved in environmental advocacy in my hometown of San Diego. This is how I discovered the Environmental Center of San Diego and was introduced to Pam, someone who matched my desire to promote the maintenance and conservation of San Diego’s natural environments. So, when I was offered the opportunity to volunteer at ECOSD, I was prepared to both play my part and learn. The Leadership Summit, which took place this past September, was my first introduction to the world of environmental advocacy in San Diego. Walking into the Summit, you rather felt like you were attending a community getting together. One which has grown significantly over the years, for the room filled up to the point where we had to send for more chairs. The buzz in the room was palpable, which was refreshing coming from a more serious academic sphere. I sat and listened to conversations which went past the statistics and focused on the real community impacts of climate change. We listened to a diverse lineup including keynote speaker, assemblywoman Tasha Boerner, and two panels, which highlighted key issues including the Public Trust Doctrine approach to coastal lands and managing the balance between recreation/conservation. The final panel rounded out the entire day by asking the question: what opportunities are available for young people to get involved and how established professionals work to include them more in the sector. The litany of questions and comments that emerged during all the panels demonstrated how truly passionate everyone in the room was about ensuring the continued growth of their community and their fight for more environmental protections across San Diego. It is evident that the dedication displayed at the summit only scratched the surface of what is possible, and I am looking forward to my continued work with the Environmental Center.” -Daniela Nelson

“I have always had a deep passion for the environment, and with my upcoming graduation from San Diego State I was determined to find an opportunity to channel that passion and connect with like-minded individuals. My search led me to ECOSD, where I had the privilege of connecting with Pam. Working closely with her and the rest of the team has been an absolute pleasure, and I have thoroughly enjoyed my experience working with them on the Seventh Annual Leadership Summit. The Summit was full of interesting presentations that touched on important topics including California’s Granted Lands and Public Trust Doctrine, Public Tidelands Trust and coastal conservation, the climate resilience of San Diego, and the Port of San Diego Granted lands. All panelists were extremely knowledgeable and eager to share their research with the group. I greatly appreciated the insights from the researchers, but one aspect of the Summit that left a lasting impression on me was the final panel discussion on engaging the younger generation in conservation and activism. Their emphasis on encouraging the youth in the room to pursue their passions and highlighting the myriad of ways to get involved was truly inspiring. It reinforced the importance of education and outreach to bring more individuals into the conservation circle. The summit was not only informative, but also reminded us that each one of us can make a significant difference in preserving our environment. I had a wonderful time working on and listening to this Summit, and I am so excited to continue collaborating with ECOSD.” -Abigail Irwin

Keynote speaker: Assemblymember Tasha Boerner.

PANEL 1: Taking Care of What Belongs to Everyone:

In California, tidelands and navigable waters cannot be owned, they are held by the state in trust for everyone. That principle is known as the Public Trust Doctrine.

PANEL 2: Conservation and recreation: challenges needing solutions

What is the appropriate balance between enjoying and preserving nature?

PANEL 3: Caring for the Earth as a Career:

Employment Opportunities in Conservation.