16 Days to UN COP26 BITS Pilani Alumnus George Jacob Leads $600 Million Global Climate Living Museum Initiatives
The International Day for Disaster Risk Reduction observed on 13 October every year is an opportunity to acknowledge the progress being made toward reducing disaster risk and losses in lives, livelihoods and health. The 2021 edition focuses on “International cooperation for developing countries to reduce their disaster risk and disaster losses.” This is the sixth of the Sendai Seven targets. The year 2021 promises to be a make-or-break year when it comes to delivering on the policy agenda agreed in 2015.
16 Days to UN COP26 BITS Pilani Alumnus George Jacob Leads $600 Million Global Climate Living Museum Initiatives
Without real action on climate in the next ten years, extreme weather events will be overwhelming, especially for developing countries. For nearly three decades the United Nations UN has been bringing together almost every country on earth for global climate summits – called COPs – which stands for ‘Conference of the Parties’. In that time climate change has gone from being a fringe issue to a global priority. The year 2021 will be the 26th annual summit – giving it the name COP26
COP26 takes place in Glasgow with the UK as President in partnership with Italy during 31 Oct 2021 to 12 Nov 2021 with several pre-events scheduled before 31 Oct. The COP26 summit will bring parties together to accelerate action towards the goals of the Paris Agreement and the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change. San Francisco- a city that spawned the birth of United Nations is now leading the way towards ‘united nature’ with BITSian Museum Designer George Jacob unveiling the vision for world’s first comprehensive living museum dedicated to climate resilience and ocean conservation.
Proud to be BITSian George Jacob is the President & CEO of Bay.Org- the largest non profit watershed conservation group in San Francisco that oversees 7 institutions (Aquarium of the Bay, The Bay Institute, Sea Lion Center, Studio Aqua, The Bay Model- US Army Corps of Engineers, Eco Xpeditions and the Bay Academy) with a unified mission to protect and conserve the Bay and its fragile ecosystems from the Sierra to the Sea.
Trained at the Smithsonian, educated at the institution of excellence Birla Institute of Technology & Science – BITS Pilani Rajasthan, University of Toronto as a Canadian Commonwealth Fellow and Yale School of Management, he is known internationally for spearheading stellar museum design-build assignments and is one of the leading museum thinkers of our times. World’s youngest Science Center and Planetarium Director at 25, he went on to become the founding Director of four museums including the NASA-Ames funded Astronomy Center in Hawaii.
The $260 million transformation of the existing 25 year old Smithsonian affiliated Aquarium, was hailed by First Lady Dr. Jill Biden as an important generational step in the right direction for educating and inspiring Climate Action. The iridescent bio-mimetic architecture is inspired by fish scales, Ohlone shell-mounds and rippling ocean waves. Situated a mile away from the historic Alcatraz prison, the climate ecotarium sits on a 3 acre green complex embedded with exhibits and powered with batteries, photo-bioreactors, wind and waves.
Even as meta-narrative engages native American voices as the pioneers in environmental stewardship, the living museum engages the Silicon Valley tech talent in a string of learning platforms, machine learning and artificial intelligence tools, which has gained momentum in the post-covid contactless learning environments. At the heart of the climate museum is an enhanced salt-water aquarium that offers the ocean as a lens to a living lab. Meanwhile, in the Caribbean, Jacob recently unveiled a $132 million Oceanarium to Prime Minister Andrew Holness.
Inspired by ocean geometry, organic forms of coral reefs and sea urchins, this incredible 2.2 million gallon saltwater facility sits on the edge of the stunning ocean shoreline of Montego Bay in Jamaica. Another spectacular project is unfolding in the Ocean City of Bergen in Norway that will pay homage to Ocean Conservation, Climate Resilience and future technologies ranging from Green Shipping practices to irradicating ocean debris and plastics.
His portfolio of over 108 museums, nature parks, wetlands, aquariums, heritage destinations, wildlife and science center assignments, continue to be visited by millions in India, Singapore, Dubai, Abu Dhabi, Saudi Arabia, Egypt, South Korea, Hong Kong, Malaysia, Canada, United States, Jamaica and elsewhere- ranging from Dinosaur sites in Alberta to Ferrari World in Abu Dhabi to the Grand Tetons to the National Marine Corps Museum in Virginia.
In 2008, he was honored to be the Project Director for the production of the 1812 Star Spangled Banner permanent exhibit- Smithsonian’s most treasured national icon, that inspired the American National Anthem rededicated to the nation by President George W. Bush. In 2015, he delivered the fastest museum design-build project in Canadian history with helicopter rides over the world’s densest dinosaur bone-bed sites, winning 9 awards in 9 months.
He is the recipient of the first Environmental Secretary’s Award from the California Dept of Natural Resources and was honored with the Louie Kamookak Medal for Lifetime Achievement in preserving and promoting geography, heritage and culture, by the Royal Canadian Geographic Society- becoming the 5th person conferred outside Canada, following Sir David Attenborough, Sir Mike Palin, Alex Trebek and President Jimmy Carter. Just a few days back, he won the 2021 Sustainability Advocacy Award from the California Travel Association.
Jacob has authored 12 books and 150+ opinion editorials on tourism, destination development, museum design, civic reach, sustainability, public art, heritage and advocacy, for newspapers and publications, and has been featured in many Magazines. Champion of Green-Blue Impact Investment Economies, he has served on the Peer Review Council of the American Alliance for Museums, Board of Directors ICOM Canada, Canadian Association of Science Centers, Commonwealth Association of Museums and currently serves on the Boards of International Council of Museums US under the Chairmanship of the Secretary of the Smithsonian.
In 2019, he was appointed Chief Advisor to UN Environment programs on Climate and Ocean Conservation Museum initiatives (Caribbean). His latest books MUSEUM FUTURES: The Corona Conundrum and MUSEUM FUTURES: Climate Curatorship were released during the pandemic, winning critical acclaim from the museum industry. He is presently at Glasgow where 166 world leaders, 30,000 delegates and thousands of protestors would be descending in the next two weeks and had discussions with Dr Stephen Besler CEO of Glasgow Science Centre.
For more on BITSAA see https://www.bitsaa.org/
Prof BR Natarajan
BITS Pilani Alumnus
C/o Jamuna Mishra Academy – JMA
Pilani, Rajasthan India 333031
Email: firstname.lastname@example.org Website: https://www.bitsaa.org
About BITSAA: BITS Alumni Association (BITSAA) has emerged as one of the strongest alumni networks of any university. BITSAA International engages in charitable and educational activities by raising funds for setting up endowments, creating scholarships, rewarding teaching - research and generally promoting the development of resources at Birla Institute of Technology and Science at Pilani, Dubai, Goa & Hyderabad campuses. BITSAA International also aims to strengthen the ties, friendship and communication amongst former students, alumni faculty and friends of the Institute. BITSAA International provides a number of channels for people to stay connected with each other and with Birla Institute of Technology & Science. Notable other alumni initiatives for BITS Pilani include Prof SSR Memorial Teaching Excellence Award, Atma Nirbara multi crore Pilani Resource Centre by 75-80 batch alumni, Prashant Anuradha Palakurthi Research Endowment and many more. For more on BITSAA see https://www.bitsaa.org
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