Friday, September 30, 2011

SP to DC

One in an occasional series on a San Pedran working the Washington political machine

Jim Thebaut, a downtown San Pedro resident, recently spearheaded a major environmental conference at the United Nations in New York.

Through his South Bay-based think tank, Thebaut produces documentary films on domestic and international water policy and other related issues.

Thebaut’s Chronicles Group partnered with the Energy and Water Institute of New York to organize the International Water Forum at the United Nations on Sept. 16.

“The overall objective of the forum is to establish water as a critical focus of the UN delegates’ attention while educating the general public about the severity of water shortages, climate change, drought and their connection to energy, public health, poverty, hunger, groundwater and aquifer depletion, agriculture, food supply, population growth and ultimately international security,” said Thebaut. “This is a global crisis that will require the attention of the world community if a solution is to be found.”

Attended by more than 600 water experts and stakeholders, the forum was convened as the first step in a global, grassroots public education and awareness campaign to spur citizen activism towards policy solutions.

In introducing Thebaut at a Los Angeles City Council meeting, then-Councilwoman Janice Hahn referred to Thebaut as the “Al Gore of water issues.”

David Nahai, former head of the Los Angeles Department of Water and Power, was among the panelists at the UN forum. Nahai and Thebaut co-authored a LA Daily News commentary headlined, “Los Angeles has role to play in fixing global water crisis.”

David Nahai, left, and Jim Thebaut

Through his decades-long career as a political advocate, international humanitarian and documentary filmmaker, Thebaut has led and contributed to productions that have aired on CBS, ABC, HBO, the Arts & Entertainment Network and public television networks.

On Capitol Hill, he has collaborated with the late Sen. Paul Simon and other lawmakers to advance federal legislation on water issues. Last year, Thebaut held an invitation-only film screening and reception in the ornate Capitol Visitors Center, attended by members of Congress, private sector representatives and other leading figures.

Simon publicly praised Thebaut in a letter backing Thebaut’s films. “... I strongly favor creating a powerful documentary, under the experienced leadership of someone like Jim Thebaut, which can alert citizens in our nation and around the world to where we’re headed, and how relatively modest policy changes can avert disasters,” Simon wrote in 2001, while serving in academia following his Senate retirement.

This seven-minute video is a preview of Thebaut’s current film in progress.

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