By Matthew Kredell
USC Price School of Public Policy professors Frank Zerunyan and Dan Mazmanian traveled to Armenia in October to participate in a United Nations workshop titled “Developing Government and Governance Capacities for Sustainable Development.”
The UN Department of Economic and Social Affairs and the UN Development Programme, in cooperation with the American University of Armenia and USC Price, came together in an effort to develop the capacity of governments and other governance actors in countries with economies in transition. The conference, held in Armenia’s capital city of Yerevan, focused on enhancing knowledge about new trends and emerging issues in governance as well as exploring ideas about how governments might best address sustainable development challenges.
In attendance were senior government officials from Armenia and approximately 20 other countries, most of which, like Armenia, were relatively new independent nations formed during the breakup of the Soviet Union.
It is the fourth international trip by Zerunyan for UN events in the past year and a half, following voyages to Bahrain, Ethiopia and South Korea.
“Our aim is to build an even stronger USC Price brand in all parts of the world, including developing or transitioning countries,” said Zerunyan, director of executive education at the Bedrosian Center on Governance and the Public Enterprise. “In this regard, we certainly appreciate the support of our Dean Jack Knott, our colleagues and distinguished members of the USC Price community like Maria Mehranian, a member of our Executive Education Board of Advisors, who accompanied us to present at the conference as part of our curriculum.”
“Engaging with the United Nations provides an outstanding opportunity for USC Price to expand our global footprint, by bringing our governance capabilities to various networks of the UN throughout the world,” Zerunyan added.
Zerunyan, also a two-term Rolling Hills Estates mayor and city council member, led a workshop on the potential of collaborative governance and the role of facilitative leadership for sustainable development. He also gave a synopsis of the practicum research his USC Price master of public policy students produced in the spring exploring the implementation and sustainability of two UN Millennium Development Goals established in 2000 — the first being eradication of poverty and the second sustainable development. The work was produced for the UN Division for Public Administration and Development Management as the practicum client. This year, a new set of MPP students in the practicum will explore the sustainability of MDG in the post-2015 UN agenda.
With the additional focus on sustainable development in this conference, Zerunyan invited Mazmanian to share his extensive expertise in that area. Mazmanian, who serves as academic director for the USC Schwarzenegger Institute for State and Global Policy, detailed the strategy California has used for developing the nation in climate-change policy.
“I walked through how it would be possible for them to transition from where they are, which is the much more traditional fossil-fuel based economy, to a more sustainable one,” Mazmanian said.
“Based on the comments, they were having a hard time envisioning how they could readily replicate the California approach,” he added. “In response, I underscored the point that back in 2006, when our Global Warming Solutions Act was under consideration, there were a number of skeptics saying California was going too far too fast, and it was going to render its economy too costly and therefore uncompetitive. Yet, California is on track to meeting its climate policy goals, and at the same time today and this past year its growth outpaced that of the rest of the nation.”
In addition, Zerunyan and Mazmanian both descend from Armenian ancestry.
“For me it was a very memorable experience on a personal level to see Yerevan, and to experience much of Armenia firsthand,” Mazmanian said. “Given my heritage, I would be proud if Armenia pursued an aggressive transition to sustainability.”