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You’ll recall that a group of Fletcher students joined the climate discussions in Morocco earlier this month.  The Tufts Institute of the Environment asked a few of these delegates to write about their experience.  Here are two reports from second-year MALD students.

Fatima Quraishi

FatimaI am a second-year MALD student interested in international environment resource policy and climate change. While at COP22 in Morocco, I had the opportunity to attend several interesting discussions seeking to scale up renewable energy deployment and meet the 2-degree target if not the more ambitious 1.5 degree. This is in no way enough, and should be necessarily supplemented by the controversial phasing out of fossil fuels. The fossil fuel industry is one of the most powerful industries in the world and has an existential stake at COP22. They are also the party that has a huge role to play in workers’ welfare.

At the “Fossil fuel supply and climate policy: Key steps to enhance ambition” side event jointly organised by Stockholm Environment Institute, Overseas Development Institute and Oil Change International, the speakers brought to light important research in the field of fossil fuels. They all stressed the importance of immediate action aimed at reducing carbon intensive lifestyles. It was stressed that if efforts are not made now, the world will lock in an even more heavily carbon intensive lifestyle thereby implying that the death of fossil fuels is certain. There is no greening of fossil fuel but only a complete phase out that will affect any change for climate.

Combustion of coal from federal lands accounts for more than 57 percent of all emissions from fossil-fuel production on federal lands. The Obama administration earlier this year ordered a moratorium on new leases for coal mined from federal lands which was heavily criticized by the fossil fuel industry and the Republicans. Expectedly this moratorium will be removed by the new administration.  China also placed a moratorium which most of the analysts believe is due to noncompetitive nature of coal than climate change.

Greg Muttitt, Senior Campaign Advisor, Oil Change International said that it’s necessary to affect a managed decline of fossil fuel which must be complemented by rapid increase in renewable energy production.  What wasn’t discussed was the need to reduce consumption as well. Behavioral change is the toughest to effect but forms an important component for responsible energy use. The Indian pavilion at COP22 can be credited to bring the theme of sustainable lifestyle to the fore. Indian Minister of Environment, Forest and Climate Change, Mr. Anil Madhav Dave opined that it’s important to adopt sustainable practices to battle climate change. In another side event organized by India, stress was placed on the importance of education that has a transformative role to play for climate action. Education, formal and informal will form the bedrock of informed choices that consumers will have to take to tackle climate change.

As discussed above, the need is to implement several measures simultaneously at the individual, national and international level to combat this catastrophe. At this point it is crucial to reiterate the need for a just transition because there will be winners and losers and inclusivity demands that nobody is left behind! Transition must take place without crippling development. Brian Kohler, Director for sustainability, Industrial Global Union spoke about the areas to be addressed for just transition from the perspective of workers with a focus on sustainable industrial policy, social protection and labor adjustments.

The road ahead requires robust data on vulnerable workers disaggregated by gender, age, skillsets, personal needs and requirements and education that would prove useful. Important questions need to be posed and answered like what kind of training and education do the workers need to undergo? How will they be trained? Is there chance of displacement? Would just transition conditions delay climate action? How would fossil fuel industry transition? A transitionary program  needs to be implemented to provide the workforce with education, skills, finance and whatever help they need in the interim. Lessons from the reconstruction of Germany after the fall of the Berlin wall could be the starting point of research for a sustainable future for everyone.

And finally addressing the question of whether the fossil fuel interests should be at the heart of the discussion of their future at COP22. In the past fossil fuel interests have lobbied heavily against any productive action against climate action and has also funded researchers and think tanks to come up with a counter discourse. But would that apprehension be enough to cut them off from the discussion? Important lessons were learned when the tobacco industry lobbied against WHO Framework Convention on Tobacco Control (FCTC). The lesson was in the form of Article 5.3 of this Convention that recognized the conflicting interest with tobacco industry and thereby limited its engagement and influence. This Article also prohibited accepting any funds from the tobacco industry. There are a number of opinions online which advocate similar provisions under UNFCCC for the same purpose. Last year, outrage was expressed at COP21 being financed by heavy polluters but the justification was need based as green companies did not have enough capital to fund the conference.

There are conflicting opinions shared by governments and civil societies about their inclusion in the negotiations for reasons of conflict of interest and on the other side openness and transparency.  World Coal Association and many coal oil and gas industries ride the backs of Business Associations and Council to get an entry to many negotiations. Currently their observer status batch does not allow them to attend most of the sensitive negotiations but is that an effective check on the power of these lobbies? Sovereign states are well within their rights to make them a part of their party delegation that gets them access to all negotiations. Saudi Aramco is heavily represented in the Saudi Arabia delegation. Therefore, only time will tell how much cooperation or disruption they cause.

Considering we need a dialogue with all stakeholders to craft solutions for the future, it is important that we refrain from forming an echo chamber where fossil fuel industry is not included. This may prevent them from lobbying to get their way with governments in clandestine way.


Julio Rivera Alejo

JuanAt The Fletcher School I am concentrating in international energy and environmental policy with a special focus on climate policy. Before Fletcher I worked for Sustainlabour, an international foundation that works with trade unions all around the world in sustainable development issues. As part of this work I actively participated at COP20 in Lima, the round of negotiations that laid the foundation for the Paris Agreement next year at COP21. At COP20 we mobilize and worked with Peruvian’s trade unions to take a leading role amongst civil society actors participating at the negotiations in Lima.

During last summer, I worked as an intern for the United Nations Global Compact’s Climate Team in New York. The UN Global Compact climate team closely works with businesses all over the world helping them to take climate action. Today I keep collaborating with them through my Capstone Project at Fletcher. I am producing for them a research paper on the role of the private sector in the implementation of the Nationally Determined Contributions (NDCs) submitted by the countries in the context of the Paris Agreement.

In this regard, attending COP 22 has constituted a great opportunity for advancing my research. More than closely following the actual negotiations, I was more interested in attending different side events addressing the link between non-state actors climate actions and the NDCs and the Paris Agreement. The presentations by different experts in the field at these side events provided me with insightful and valuable information and direction for my research.  Furthermore, my attending the conference granted me the opportunity to personally interview some of these experts. Interestingly, one of the persons that I ended up interviewing and whose contribution was most valuable for my research was not among my initially targeted experts. I met her by total chance at one of the events I was attending. She was in the public, like me, and I noticed her when she asked a question during the Q&A directly related with my research, a question that I was going to ask!

As for the actual negotiations, COP22 is about implementing the Paris Agreement. Carbon accounting, financing and the facilitative mechanism will be the main issues this. However, more than analyzing the negotiations in detail, I would like to focus on the Global Climate Action Agenda. Previously, COPs have eminently been an intergovernmental process with non-state actors playing an essential observer role. But in Lima, the Global Climate Action Agenda was launched (back then it was known as the Lima-Paris Action Agenda), which main goal was to empower non-state actors as a key player in climate action. At COP22 we can see how the Global Climate Action Agenda has flourished, where many non-state actors attending the conference and presenting their commitments and showing their commitment towards climate action. Personally, seeing this makes me very optimistic about the Paris Agreement. Signed and ratified, it is time for implementation, and non-state actors (cities, businesses, regions, civil society) have a key role to play here.

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A bleary-eyed community filled Fletcher yesterday, having followed U.S. election news late into the night.  And speaking of news, today I’ll share some items that you may have missed on other Fletcher sources.

First, for those who still want to read about politics, Fletcher alumnus and one-time presidential candidate Bill Richardson, F71, offered thoughts pre-election for what should happen post-election.

Among more recent alumni, Erik Iverson, F09, F13, has been selected as one of 16 White House Fellows this year.  Erik was a friend of Admissions during his years here, and I’ve enjoyed keeping in touch now-and-then since his graduation.

And, in one of those typically atypical post-Fletcher careers, Marina Pevzner Hennessy, F06, was recently the subject of a Tufts Now story about Plan Bee, her venture to bring bees to Myanmar.

Though he’s not quite an alumnus, Juan Manuel Santos, president of Colombia, has been awarded the Nobel Peace Prize.  President Santos spent a year at Fletcher as a research fellow in the early 1980s.

A new Fletcher scholarship has recently been endowed in the name of Harry Radcliffe, F73, an award-winning journalist with vast experience.

In faculty news, Diana Chigas, F88, has been named the University’s Associate Provost and Senior International Officer.  She will be responsible for engaging leaders across the schools to enhance Tufts’ outreach, impact and visibility internationally.

Retired professor William Moomaw, who maintains his connection with Tufts as co-director of the Global Development and Environment Institute (GDAE), recorded “How Restorative Development Can Address Climate Change” with WGBH, one of our local public radio and television stations.  In the interview, he discussed industrial agriculture, synthetic fertilizers and more natural approaches to farming that will revive the health of soil, water and air.

And here are two stories that interested me, and might interest you, though the link is to Tufts University more generally, not to Fletcher.

First, a statue of famed American abolitionist, John Brown, was discovered hidden at Tufts.  Beyond those basic facts is a tale of museum sleuth work and the historical connections between Tufts, its neighbors, and the Underground Railroad.

And second, the story of the creation of the Daily Skimm, by an alumna of the undergraduate program at Tufts.

Last of all, I’ll leave you with the recently-launched video introducing Fletcher to new audiences.  On a personal note, I’ll add only that Kaddu Sebunya, F02, was once a student member of the Admissions Committee.  And that’s what’s best about my job.  I get so much from interacting with folks during this brief pause in their careers.  Then off they go to do great things in whatever area they choose.

 

This is an exciting week for a team of Fletcher students and faculty members who are attending the COP22 international climate negotiations in Marrakech, Morocco, along with others from Tufts.  The Provost’s Office and Fletcher’s Center for International Environment and Resource Policy has provided funding to support the students’ travel to the talks, which will run from November 7 to 18, and where delegates will prepare for the implementation of the Paris Agreement.

Some of the travelers will be adding posts from Marrakech to a blog maintained by the Tufts Institute of the Environment, and I will also pick up the Fletcher students’ posts here.  Meanwhile, you can follow the delegation at #TuftsCOP22.  A highlight so far: Second-year MALD student from Indonesia, Angga, speaking to an Indonesian contingent.

Angga

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Gathering information about the graduate schools to which you apply is an important part of the application process.  And, though I hope you’ll stay tuned to the blog, I also recommend you take a look at what our friends in the Fletcher communications office are offering.  First, they consolidate materials, such as op-eds written by Fletcher faculty and students or longer publications including books and articles.  They also highlight print/radio/TV comments or interviews.  And my favorite offerings are Fletcher Features, stories written about the community and events at Fletcher.

Today, I’ll direct your attention to one of the features — an interview with Rizwan Ladha, PhD candidate and Admissions pal.  I love his reference to “a global circle of people who have been through this tiny school at the top of a hill in Medford.”  Rizwan has been a star throughout his MALD and PhD studies, and it’s great to see the spotlight shined on him.

 

At noon today, Kristen and I will be offering an information session for Tufts undergraduates studying international relations.  We enjoy connecting this way with our friends in the School of Arts and Sciences, one of the two main undergraduate programs, along with the School of Engineering.  We’ll be joined by two Double Jumbos, who will describe their path from when they graduated from Tufts to when they enrolled at Fletcher.  Though Kristen and I have been offering these sessions each fall for several years now, today’s blog post is about a new cooperative initiative, launched by two second-year MALD students, Rafael Loss and Suzanne Webb. 

Before you read Rafael’s report, I want to take a second to point out that students develop many new activities each year.  With a good plan and a little hustle, you can make any number of things happen.  And one brief explanatory note: Packard Avenue is the street running in front of Fletcher.  You’ll see the reference in Rafael’s story below.

Over the past months, Suzanne Webb and I have worked hard to create the inaugural Building Bridges Research Symposium, an undergraduate research symposium, which will take place at The Fletcher School this Friday, November 4th.

In conversations with students, staff, and faculty, both at Fletcher and at the various undergraduate programs at Tufts University, we heard time and again people lament the perceived “Packard Avenue gap”: the sense that there is little exchange between graduate and undergraduate students.  We know that Fletcher is sometimes perceived as its own little galaxy in the Tufts universe.  Likewise, Fletcher students usually encounter Tufts undergraduates only in Ginn Library during finals, when everyone is fighting for study space.

Given the vast experience of Fletcher students in all areas of international affairs and beyond, and Tufts students’ equally diverse research interests, we thought that a research symposium would be a great forum for exchange to bridge the gap.  We approached Fletcher administrators and established contacts with Tufts undergraduate degree programs and Tufts institutions including the Jonathan M. Tisch College for Civic Life and Tufts’ Institute for Global Leadership.  Everyone we spoke to enthusiastically supported our idea and made valuable suggestions for the event.

In addition to the great advice, we were also extremely fortunate to receive funding from the Tisch Fund for Civic Engagement.  Thanks to their generous support, our presenters and audience members will be well caffeinated and fed at the event.

On September 16th, we sent out the call for applications for the inaugural Building Bridges Research Symposium and only a few days later we received the first submission.  By the end of the deadline, roughly a dozen Tufts undergraduates had submitted proposals.  On November 4th, ten of them will present their research in front of their peers and Fletcher students in three panels chaired by Fletcher PhD candidates Megan Rounseville and Rebecca Tapscott, and MALD candidate Rachel Porter.  Fletcher’s Professor of International Humanitarian Studies Kimberly Theidon will deliver the welcoming remarks.

After months of planning, coordinating, and advertising, we are thrilled that our event is around the corner.  We hope that this first research symposium will spark continued exchange between Fletcher and Tufts students on academic research, that it will be further institutionalized, and that the conference will become an annual highlight on the Tufts and Fletcher calendars.

You can see the full Symposium schedule here.

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Debate WatchHere it is, folks.  The final debate of the 2016 presidential election cycle.  And you’re probably thinking that you’d like to connect with Fletcher for the event.  Well, you can.  Several groups have put together a Fletcher Debate Watch.  Once it gets rolling, you can follow along on Twitter at #FletcherDebateWatch

Engage the debateWondering what other debate-related activities are happening at Tufts?  Engage the Debate is a watch party for the general University community.  Featuring Fletcher professor Katrina Burgess, the event kicks off with a panel discussion, which will be available via a live stream.

In fact, the University has a bunch of different election-related events coming up.  Check them out!  And the Tisch College’s JumboVote 2016 site is a great resource for other election news.

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Even if you’ve only been reading the Admissions Blog for a short time, you may have noticed that I have trouble keeping up with everything happening at Fletcher.  Sigh.  Alas, there’s no easy solution to that problem, but I’m always happy to make lemonade out of lemons!  I can help you catch up with the news after it happens!  With that in mind, and in case you missed it, I’m delighted to point you toward the places where you can read up on a couple of big events at Fletcher this month.

Last week, Fletcher’s Institute for Business in the Global Context hosted a huge conference, “Greece’s Turn?”  You can catch up with much of the happenings on Twitter at #GreecesTurn.

And earlier this month, Professor Daniel Drezner organized The Ideas Industry conference, which you can also review on Twitter at #FletcherIdeas.  Even better, you can watch many of the sessions.

And now, back to my regular admissions work.  I’m due to present an information session to some of our 50+ participants in today’s Admissions Visit Day!

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While the rest of us enjoy a long weekend in the local area, a group of students, faculty, and staff are in Reykjavik, Iceland for the annual Arctic Circle AssemblyProfessor Rockford Weitz, who heads the Fletcher’s Maritime Studies Program describes the Assembly as “the world’s largest gathering of Arctic-oriented policy makers, business people, and other stakeholders.”

This is the second year that Fletcher has participated, and our students, professors, staff members, and alumni represent the largest non-Icelandic academic delegation at the Assembly.

Here are the details, courtesy of Professor Weitz’s email in which he invited students to apply to participate:

The opening Arctic presents a myriad of interdisciplinary challenges and opportunities that demonstrate the unique value of a Fletcher education.  No other graduate school could prepare you to understand the truly interdisciplinary nature of the geopolitical, diplomatic, scientific, environmental, sustainable development, national security, international law, macroeconomic, global trade, technology, shipping, energy, migration, human security, and international business implications of an opening Arctic.  Here’s the Arctic Circle Assembly’s program.

The Fletcher-organized panels are:

♦  Rethinking Shared Interests in Arctic Oil and Gas: Can We Actually Manage More Effectively?, Professor Bill Moomaw
♦  Reimagining the Arctic as the World’s Data Center, Fletcher Institute for Business In the Global Context Research Fellow Caroline Troein, F14
♦  BlueTech Innovation for a Sustainable Arctic, Fletcher Maritime Studies Program
♦  Status of Earth Observations in the Arctic, Professor Paul Berkman
♦  Arctic High Seas: Building Common Interests in the Arctic Ocean, Professor Paul Berkman

As you can see, Fletcher has deep expertise in Arctic topics.  In addition to Fletcher’s contributions at the Arctic Circle Assembly, Fletcher students will be organizing — for the sixth year in a row — the Fletcher Arctic Conference on Saturday, February 18, 2017.  It’s always a great event and conveniently located right here in Medford.  Please mark your calendars!

I meant to publish this post yesterday (Thursday), but my reward for procrastinating is a photo of the Fletcher delegation, courtesy of second-year MALD Angga.

Arctic

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It has taken me a while to get to it, but I promised to share details on the questions I was answering at last week’s Idealist Grad School Fair in Washington, DC.  As it happens, not too many discrete themes jumped out at me, but I did answer a lot of questions about studying environment issues at Fletcher.  Quite a few times, I took my business card and scribbled CIERP on the back, before passing the card along with instructions to Google it.

Fletcher has had an international environment program for as long as I can remember and the program has become stronger by the year.  The faculty and staff are regularly getting out there and making important contributions to environment discussions on the international stage.  I encourage everyone to check the Center for International Environment and Resource Policy website for details on recent scholarly works and upcoming special events.

Meanwhile, a recent Tufts Now update provided the following news on CIERP faculty and staff members:

Kelly Sims Gallagher, F00, F03, an associate professor at the Fletcher School, and her team have won a Minerva Award for their study “Rising Power Alliances and the Threat of a Parallel Global Order: Understanding BRICS Mobilization.”  The three-year project will develop a multidisciplinary framework to address the changing definitions and compositions of global alliances and coalitions.  The Minerva Initiative is a Department of Defense-sponsored, university-based social science research initiative focusing on areas of strategic importance to U.S. national security policy.

William R. Moomaw, co-director of the Global Development and Environment Institute (GDAE) and professor emeritus of international environmental policy at the Fletcher School, was lauded for his trailblazing research in global climate change and his influential teaching career at an event at Tufts on Sept. 12.  The event also highlighted the Center for International Environment and Resource Policy (CIERP), which Moomaw founded in 1992 to advance international environment and resource policy as a field of study at Fletcher.  The celebration concluded with a presentation by Avery Cohn, the inaugural recipient of the William R. Moomaw Professorship of International Environment and Resource Policy, about his research examining how policies can promote sustainable global land use and the natural resiliency of tropical forests.

Mieke van der Wansem, F90, associate director of educational programs at the Center for International Environment and Resource Policy (CIERP) at the Fletcher School, led a one-day training workshop on “Reaching Sustainable Solutions Through Effective Negotiation” in partnership with the International Union for the Conservation of Nature (IUCN) and the Sustainability Challenge Foundation at the IUCN World Conservation Congress in Oahu, Hawaii.  The goal was to help conservation professionals achieve nature conservation goals through effective stakeholder engagement and negotiation with other sectors and neighboring communities.

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In case this passed you by, last Saturday Tufts was the host for a meeting of U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry and the Quintet of Foreign Ministers (from the European Union, United Kingdom, France, Germany, and Italy).  The student-run campus newspaper, the Tufts Daily, covered the event, as did the Fletcher communications team.  And the University’s communications group provided photos.

Kerry

Plus, there was all the usual tweeting, including from Secretary Kerry (who, I’ll note, was the senator from Massachusetts for many years and still has a home in Boston).

Kerry with students

Some of the people in the photos are Fletcher students who had the opportunity to meet with the six diplomats at the on-campus home of Tufts president Anthony Monaco.  Rafael (second from the left in the back row), a second-year MALD student from Germany, told me that a mix of U.S. and international students with relevant language skills or geographic origins were the ones chosen.

My favorite tweet on the subject came from a student who needed to split her attention between Saturday’s dignitaries and her own foreign language proficiency exam, which was offered for the first time of the year.

Kerney

I think Kerney’s comment perfectly sums up the time-management challenges that students face every week at Fletcher!  So many exciting events!  But also…school.

 

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