Sustainability Spotlight

This month, we're putting the #SustainabilitySpotlight on...

Clarisse Estebar

Clarisse Estebar 

Finance and Program Officer, International Development Institute and Humber Alumnus 

From a young age, Clarisse Estebar has always felt strongly about environmental and social issues and spent her time volunteering to help her community. Clarisse explains that in high school she surpassed her 40 volunteer-hour requirements with over 1,500 hours completed. “You can submit it all, but the computer stops inputting the data,” Clarisse added with a chuckle.

“I worked for the Ministry of Natural Resources and Forestry and the Ministry of Environment, Conservation and Parks for about six or seven years. I started out doing trail maintenance, campground maintenance, and then eventually awareness campaigns, environmental programming and research and administration,” Clarisse said.

Clarisse’s role with the Ministry of Environment was the reason she pursued a degree in Environmental Studies. However, later discovering through her program that social sustainability has a role to play, Clarisse transitioned to pursue Humber’s Bachelor of International Development. Clarisse has also received a Certificate of Achievement in Project Management at Humber College.

Currently, Clarisse is the Finance and Program Officer at the International Development Institute, part of Humber’s International Centre. In her role, Clarisse supports and manages the customized training portfolio, which includes writing proposals and creating relationships with potential partners for international development programs and experiential learning opportunities for students. Clarisse is also in charge of community engagement and events between the local community and Humber.

Sustainability has always been important to Clarisse, as she explains, “it's something that you become aware of depending on the environment that you grew up in. But I think it's important to me because being aware of what's at stake makes it real.” She believes a lot of people in North America don’t understand the impact of climate change because they don’t see the impacts on their front door. “I think recently with all the wildfires, [climate change] has become more apparent and real to people,” said Clarisse.

As a child growing up in the Philippines, Clarisse experienced climate refugees and poverty firsthand, “I've always been conscious that everything we do impacts [others] elsewhere. If people don’t see the impact firsthand, it’s hard for them to make the connection,” she said. Clarisse credits that sustainability is important in everything she does. “Frankly,” she said, “I just want to live beyond tomorrow.”

Clarisse says that it’s important to do your research beyond what mainstream media sources are sharing. “Especially with social media,” she said, “a lot can be misconstrued. We’re in the age of misinformation.” Clarisse strongly believes that part of contributing to environmental and social causes is ensuring that proper information is communicated.

Being a part of the Ontario Council for International Cooperation has allowed Clarisse to receive credible sources of information, attend relevant webinars and obtain the information to have impactful conversations with the people in her life.

“I think being in a social group or an activist group is great, [as] it's good to be with like-minded people, but I think that it's important to have hard conversations with people that don't necessarily share your point of view because you're able to kind of help them talk things through and understand why things are the way they are.”

Clarisse emphasizes that it is important to ensure people are sharing facts not opinions and to do your research because the more you learn about different issues, the more you become aware of different opportunities available to you.

Clarisse says that the transition in her academic studies to international development from environmental sustainability showed her the disconnect from people’s understanding of social and environmental sustainability and how they are so closely connected. Clarisse concludes by emphasizing that environmental sustainability is very important, but so is social action. Everything’s connected and that’s evident in what we’re seeing around the world right now.

Read Clarisse's full feature story here. 

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