Alumni Highlight: Brighton Kaoma Helps Younger Individuals in Attaining Sustainability Objectives

by Alexis Earl
|February 28, 2022

The Alumni Highlight sequence contains interviews from Earth Institute alumni about their profession paths, how they turned involved in Earth Institute packages, and any recommendation that might be helpful to present and future college students.

Brighton Mukupa Kaoma

Brighton Mukupa Kaoma moved to New York Metropolis from his native Zambia to hitch Columbia’s Environmental Science and Coverage program in 2019. However his dedication to studying in regards to the local weather disaster, educating others, and defending susceptible communities started when he was very younger.

He grew up in a small group with out entry to roads or piped water. On one facet of his group, there was a river, and on the opposite there was an open-pit mine. Brighton’s group was straight affected by sulfuric acid mine runoff, in addition to different course of waste.

By way of conversations together with his grandmother, his dad and mom and sisters about their completely different experiences — for instance, with when to plant sure crops — Brighton gained perception into how the native atmosphere was altering over time. He remembers that as early because the age of 10, he was placing collectively how these adjustments could also be occurring. “I noticed local weather injustices, local weather refugees, and challenges associated to local weather,” he stated.

Brighton realized that there was a have to have an essential dialog concerning the results of useful resource exploitation on communities like his, and radio was essentially the most accessible and cheap approach to facilitate a dialogue highlighting these points.

At 14 years previous, Brighton began a radio program to teach his group about native environmental hazards and local weather change. He took the initiative to herald native professors with experience related to the local weather disaster. He additionally acknowledged the significance of numerous views and experiences; he made a degree of together with native ladies within the dialogue on his radio present, in addition to bringing kids into the dialog to share their very own experiences. Brighton’s podcast reached 2 million folks per week.

Brighton Kaoma recording a climate radio episode in his home town of Kitwe, Zambia.

Brighton Kaoma recording a local weather radio episode in his house city of Kitwe, Zambia.

Whereas operating the radio present, Brighton was additionally at school. It was a problem to handle the present together with maintaining together with his coursework and sustaining excessive grades. He knew that he wouldn’t be excused from his educational duties simply because he was a radio broadcaster. Nonetheless, his radio present and his education weren’t totally at odds. By way of his analysis for every episode, Brighton discovered new issues about science that supplemented his schooling at school.

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Due to his work in radio, Brighton had the chance to develop into a UNICEF little one ambassador. On this function, he supported curriculum growth for the coaching of over 1,200 Zambian kids as little one local weather ambassadors by means of annual local weather conferences. He additionally supported UNICEF in organising media hubs in under-resourced public colleges of Zambia to boost web connectivity, social media campaigning, and the digital engagement of younger folks.

Brighton delivering a commencement speech at Maastricht University's School of Management in 2012.

Brighton delivering a graduation speech at Maastricht College’s College of Administration in 2012.

Brighton receiving recognition from the German Minister of Family Affairs in 2014, after facilitating workshops at the G7 Pre Youth Summit.

Brighton receiving recognition from the German Minister of Household Affairs in 2014, after facilitating workshops on the G7 Pre Youth Summit.

Brighton went on to attend the College of Zambia to concentrate on environmental science and schooling. He graduated in December 2017, after which labored on the college as a educating assistant for a course on local weather and gender. The course gave him a deeper understanding and curiosity in how local weather change disproportionately impacts women in Africa and all over the world, and the significance of gender-sensitive options.

In 2016, World Wildlife Fund Worldwide acknowledged Brighton’s radio work by presenting him with its World President’s Award for Sustainability. On account of his quite a few management recognitions, Brighton had the consideration of being invited to Washington DC to satisfy then President Barack Obama.

Brighton with President Obama after an exclusive meeting on sustainable development in Washington, DC

Brighton with President Obama after an unique assembly on sustainable growth in Washington, DC

Brighton discovered this expertise extremely inspiring and motivating. He felt that President Obama acknowledged the power of kids and younger folks to create change. He remembers President Obama saying to him, “You are younger and you’ve got completed a lot. What do you wish to do together with your life?” Brighton defined that he was obsessed with youth empowerment. What higher approach to contribute to society than working with younger leaders? To supply some steering to Brighton, President Obama urged what he believed to be the perfect packages to check sustainability on the graduate stage within the US He advisable just a few establishments, together with Columbia College. Desperate to take the president’s recommendation, Brighton started wanting into the MPA in Environmental Science and Coverage program. Brighton rapidly realized that the MPA-ESP program would give him the perfect community of sustainability professionals to study from and advance his objectives.

When Brighton joined this system in 2019, he knew that he made the suitable selection as a result of he discovered himself studying an amazing deal about each science and coverage. This system offered Brighton with the latitude to develop stronger expertise in economics, coverage evaluation, and environmental science, with steering from the perfect educators round. He remembers taking a climatology course in 2019 that was “unbelievable,” he stated. “I feel it is essential for any sustainability practitioner to know the science of local weather as a result of they have to make the suitable suggestions to tell sound insurance policies.”

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Brighton appears to be like ahead to seeing his associates from this system change the world for the higher, and he hopes to make an actual distinction alongside them.

After graduating from the MPA-ESP program, Brighton labored with the World Wildlife Fund’s CEO for Africa as a guide centered on coverage evaluation and thought management. He labored on annual technical studies and helped talk the group’s achievements. WWF’s regional workplace for Africa oversees over 10 workplaces in Africa with over 600 employees members.

Subsequent, a member of the employees at Columbia’s Lamont-Doherty Earth Observatory reached out to Brighton to advocate he apply for an open place on the UN Sustainable Growth Options Community as the worldwide youth director. On this place, Brighton may apply his expertise that he had gained from his time within the MPA-ESP program to help younger entrepreneurs and activists working to implement the UN’s sustainable growth objectives.

At the moment, Brighton is serving as the worldwide youth director for the United Nations. It is without doubt one of the largest networks of younger folks supporting younger entrepreneurs, younger activists, and younger sustainability leaders to speed up sustainability options. This help includes bringing in these younger leaders to coach them and supply them with a community for sustainable growth, to create pathways of understanding, and to offer younger folks the abilities and sources to take motion. At the moment 3,700 younger persons are members of the community. They’re doing issues like elevating consciousness, operating campaigns, and planting bushes, amongst different actions selling the UN’s sustainability objectives. Subsequent month, the community will probably be launching a year-long fellowship through which younger folks from over 100 counties establish and work towards sustainability options of their cities.

On a day-to-day foundation, Brighton spends his time coordinating challenge leaders who work with groups all over the world to advance entrepreneurship and schooling for sustainable growth. On the similar time, he’s engaged on fundraising methods and partnerships throughout the UN, and talking at high-level, international UN occasions to characterize younger folks.

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Long run, Brighton want to proceed supporting UN efforts in several capacities, particularly addressing financing for the sustainable growth objectives. He’s obsessed with understanding how we will focus sources to cut back international starvation, empower ladies and younger folks, obtain schooling for all, and cut back emissions. Brighton want to be a essential participant in attaining these objectives, particularly for growing international locations and underserved communities. He would additionally like to show and contribute to the physique of information in sustainable growth all over the world.

Brighton Kaoma

To present and potential MPA-ESP college students, Brighton’s recommendation is to “be open-minded. This system does not solely give you technical expertise to outlive in company establishments. It additionally offers you with the area to satisfy folks from numerous social and financial backgrounds, and to make unbelievable associates. Whereas on this program, you possibly can meet individuals who change the way in which that you just have a look at life totally.” Brighton can also be nonetheless in contact with many Columbia professors.

Brighton needed to spotlight that “deciding to pursue graduate research is without doubt one of the most essential selections one could make.” He advisable the MPA-ESP program due to the character of how this system has been designed. “Columbia is an incredible place,” he stated. “Being in this system offers you the chance to concentrate on the issues that you just care most about.” Moreover, “New York Metropolis is effervescent!” He stated that residing in Morningside Heights allowed him to have nice experiences, eat wonderful meals, and actually take pleasure in life whereas pursuing his research and objectives.

Brighton will probably be publishing a ebook this summer time in regards to the worth of telling tales, highlighting how essential listening to every particular person’s distinctive story could be, and the way tales can change the world. Brighton was ready to make use of his radio program as a platform to inform the tales of others, and he believes that every little thing that adjustments on this planet will start with a narrative. Hopefully that story interprets to an concept, which interprets to an answer. “Each younger particular person ought to take into consideration how sustainability results them no matter their career,” he stated. “Storytelling permits us to increase this dialogue past our skilled circles.”

If you happen to’re involved in studying extra in regards to the MPA-ESP program, please contact assistant director Pearl Grey ( with any questions or to schedule a campus go to.


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