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EPIC-N Expands into Asia

Author: Marshall Curry

Asia Expansion

EPIC-N has seen substantial network growth due to our international expansion. We’ve successfully extended into Africa and have celebrated our Africa partners taking the reins and leading their first training. To continue our progression, our international outreach will now continue into Asia.

“The EPIC Model, by its nature, is suitable to the entire world,” explains Joel Rogers, EPIC-N Chair and Secretary. “The Asian extension is a natural addition to what we’ve accomplished elsewhere. We have gone to Africa, now Asia, and we intend to continue to expand internationally into Latin America and the Caribbean. Eventually we’ll go to Europe as well. We want to increase the number and quality of EPIC programs worldwide and Asia is a very large part of the world.”

Jessica Barlow, EPIC-N Vice President, adds, “our international growth and expansion strategy has been in-part based on priorities of EPIC-N as well as partners and stakeholders who are particularly interested in the global south. We held a training event in 2017 in Bonn, Germany, that brought parties together that had a particular interest in the global south.” Primarily, support for the international expansion was facilitated by the Global Adaptation Network (GAN), a long-time partner with START; also ICLEI, the United Nations Environmental Programme (UNEP), the National Science Foundation (NSF) , the United States Environmental Protection Agency (USEPA), and the United Nations Sustainable Development Solutions Network (UNSDSN). Domestically, for example, support for EPIC-N originally came from our own members and now includes other kinds of support like that received from the Thriving Earth Exchange and Second Nature, among many other organizations and academic consortiums, both domestic and international.

Network Establishment and Program Management for EPIC Asia

Local Program Support

With this expansion into Asia, we’ll need to increase our administrative capacity to serve the area; therefore, EPIC-N is adding an Asia Program Coordinator to its staff. One of the main logistical reasons to have dedicated network support in the region is that the Secretariat is located in a time zone eight or more hours behind Asia. Additionally, there is fantastic variation across all these different countries, and we need to ensure that we recognize local context in terms of program and partnership structure. “We want someone with the best possible understanding of institutions of higher education and institutions of municipal and regional governance,” Rogers describes.

Having someone in an administrative position who understands the geopolitics, cultural nuances, and local business infrastructure will be beneficial to the success of the EPIC programs in Asia. Barlow continues that we are looking for “that visionary that can see how a regional network – and when we say “region” we are speaking of a very large region – fits into the bigger picture. We want someone who understands the power of resourcefulness and finding ways to grow.”

We have seed money built into the current international growth budget for the Asia Program Coordinator and will continue to garner additional monetary support from the broader network in Asia to fund the growth, expansion and administrative support needed.

We are working with our international partners in the acceptance and review of applications. The posting will remain open until May 15, 2021.

Training Event Scheduled for May 2021

Similar to the training event held in early 2020 in Durban, South Africa, and in Bonn, Germany, in 2017, EPIC-N will be facilitating a training workshop in Asia in mid-May 2021. We currently have 30 pairs of cities and universities from all across Asia participating in this significant upcoming training workshop. Although Community/University partnerships are not new, at the May workshop the participants will get the opportunity to learn and understand how the EPIC Model is unique. “Attending the workshop is so important because there is a lot to learn about launching and coordinating a program that is as large-scale as an EPIC program,” explained Barlow. They will discover that “there’s a way to run it in a very efficient and effective way that doesn’t get everybody confused or begin duplicating efforts.”

The EPIC Model is scaled for impact and uses existing city/community and university resources. Moreover, EPIC-N uses the UN’s Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) as the standard to measure the impact the projects have on communities. People worldwide are very familiar with SDGs. At the workshop, they will be learning about the model, how they can scale their programs, and how they can adopt and adapt the model in their own context-specific way using the SDGs as a guide. By giving the Asia programs the ability to build and execute “programs in their own context-specific way is critical,” says Barlow.