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It has been a pleasure to share the reports from students who participated in the Arctic Circle Assembly in Reykjavik last month.  The final report comes from Kevin, who is in the LLM program.

Over a long weekend in October, Fletcher’s Maritime Studies Program led a 37-person contingent to the Arctic Circle Assembly in Reykjavik, Iceland.  Hosted by a non-profit and non-partisan organization based in Reykjavik, the assembly brings together an interdisciplinary network of representatives from government, academia, NGOs, and indigenous communities to discuss development of the Arctic and its global relevance.  For students honing the skills required to address complex problems from a multi-disciplinary perspective, the Arctic Circle Assembly offered a robust opportunity to learn about issues that will demand growing international attention in coming years.

Kevin (far right), Harris, and Katrina (whose report appeared on the blog last week).

While the conference agenda included a broad range of topics, as an American attorney with a Navy background, I found three to be particularly compelling.  Each illustrates the multi-disciplinary nature of emerging issues: (i) East Asian Engagement in the Arctic, (ii) Legal Uncertainties in a Changing Environment, and (iii) The Role of the U.S. Coast Guard in the Arctic.

East Asian Engagement in the Arctic.  Diplomatic representatives from China, Japan, and South Korea spoke during plenary meetings of the Arctic Circle Assembly, taking advantage of the opportunity to discuss their nations’ respective records of Arctic engagement and cooperation.  The representatives emphasized their nations’ contributions to Arctic scientific research, while referencing their desire for an increased role in Arctic governance.  The Chinese and Japanese representatives also specifically addressed opportunities for shared economic development.  Taken together, the statements illustrated the geopolitical implications of opening Arctic sea lanes and prospective resource development in the central Arctic.

Legal Uncertainties in a Changing Environment.  A number of speakers present for the Arctic Circle Assembly addressed implications of a changing Arctic environment for relevant legal regimes, from application of environmental protections under the Endangered Species Act in Alaska to unresolved questions associated with the United States’ voluntary exclusion from the UNCLOS regime and development of its continental shelf.  Senior representatives from Iceland, Russia, and the United States also discussed questions related to fisheries management and migrating fish populations, a topic with significant implications for both domestic economies and international relations.

The Role of the United States Coast Guard in the Arctic.  On the second day of the assembly, the Vice Commandant of the United States Coast Guard, Admiral Charles Michel, spoke to the combined delegation from The Fletcher School and Harvard Kennedy School.  In a wide-ranging conversation, Admiral Michel discussed the size and significance of the United States icebreaking fleet, the Coast Guard’s support for scientific research in the Arctic, as well as the unique role the Coast Guard plays in building and maintaining relationships in the maritime domain.

On the whole, the Arctic Circle Assembly presented a vibrant opportunity to learn about matters of interest from people of differing experience and perspective, many of them at the forefront of their disciplines.  It also proved an opportunity to build relationships with counterparts both from Fletcher and around the world.  And, perks being what they are, many of us from the Fletcher contingent capped off the assembly with a drive over the Continental Rift.  On the whole, a productive weekend!

(Kevin notes that the statements in this post are his own and do not necessarily reflect the views of the Department of Defense, U.S. Navy, or any of their components.)

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I now know that I’ll be sharing four reports from the Arctic Circle Assembly.  Today, adding to the post from Ana last week, we’ll hear from two more students, Katrina (who is one of the active duty military officers at Fletcher) and Colin (who is one of the pioneers in Fletcher’s new Master of Transatlantic Affairs program).

Katrina

Attending the Arctic Circle Assembly in Reykjavik, Iceland sounded like a fantastic opportunity but one that required some prodding before I committed.  I wanted to attend and participate in every single thing the Fletcher community offered, and the Arctic Circle was no exception.  However, as a brand spanking new first-year MALD student, I was wary of missing classes since I was still (re)acclimating to the schedule and demands of academic life.  Matt Merighi, the Assistant Director for Maritime Affairs, quickly convinced me that this conference is the type of quintessential enrichment that Fletcher students must experience.  So, I prepared myself for what would become one of the best experiences I have had at Fletcher thus far.

The Arctic Circle is “the largest network of international dialogue and cooperation on the future of the Arctic” with participants including governments, organizations, academic bodies, and others from all over the world.  The Assembly gathers annually during three days in October.  Participants packed the sessions covering the range of issues facing the Arctic.  As a naval officer, I was keen on attending the sessions that dealt with maritime security.  One of the first sessions I attended was “Security and Insecurity in the Arctic and High North: Current Trends and Future Issues,” and I was incredibly impressed with the arguments posited.  I found the geographic and national lenses through which panel members framed the issues concerning the Arctic thought-provoking, and I kept them in mind as I listened to other speakers.  It was a humbling reminder that nations are affected by problems in different ways, and future solutions must account for all parties facing the challenges of maritime security, technology, trade, or any of the other issue in the Arctic.

Because about 2,000 people were in attendance from 50 countries, I was bound to meet fascinating people.  During the opening reception, a gentleman next to me gleefully gave me a Maine lapel pin after I told him I was at Fletcher.  When I asked where he was from, he casually replied: “I’m the governor of Maine.”  I never thought I’d meet the governor of Maine, much less 2,500 miles from home!  I also had the opportunity to engage with the Vice Commandant of the U.S. Coast Guard and the Deputy Chief of Operations of the Icelandic Coast Guard.  Listening to them discuss the most pressing problems they see in the Arctic, and the steps they are taking to address, them caused me to reconsider how I look at maritime security issues, not only in the Arctic but around the globe.  I conversed with academics, fellow students, government officials, and organizational representatives, and I walked away from each conversation having learned something new.

My time in Iceland was not all serious, however.  During the precious few hours I was left on my own, I wandered the streets of downtown Reykjavik and visited key sites and museums.  I went to the top of Hallgrimskirkja Church, where I took in the beauty of the city from 244 feet in the air.  I visited their Culture House, which featured a thought-provoking exhibition that explored how outsiders and Icelanders look at history and society in Iceland.  Yet, the highlight was visiting the world-famous Blue Lagoon, where I soaked in an outdoor hot spring and watched the sunrise while wearing a silica mud mask plastered to my face.  This was unquestionably a once in a lifetime experience.

One of the most important things I learned during the Assembly is that the Arctic embodies a new frontier of international collaboration.  In an increasingly polarized world, I am encouraged that the Arctic engenders discourse and a collective action among countries that would not typically interact otherwise.  It turns out Matt was right — this was an incredible experience.  I look forward to sharing the spirit of Arctic Circle with the Fletcher family and hopefully convincing them that Arctic Circle Assembly is a must-add to their list of Fletcher memories!

Colin

I have long been fascinated with the Arctic, and my time at Fletcher has only further cemented this interest.  As a student in the brand-new Master of Transatlantic Affairs program, focusing primarily on international security and the EU, the region represents a fascinating case study.  Will new opportunities in shipping and resource extraction lead to tense geopolitical competition, or to peaceful and cooperative development?  Thanks to the generosity of the Maritime Studies program, I was granted a chance to travel to the Arctic Circle Assembly, the preeminent conference for Arctic affairs, to find out.

My interest in the region began as a personal one, but was expanded through various research projects, including an op-ed I published while working at The Stimson Center, a think-tank in Washington, D.C.  As the article was about the possibility of militarization in the region, I kept a close eye out for Arctic conference events that discussed similar issues.  Fortunately, I was able to attend a talk by a researcher from the University of Saskatchewan who laid out the arguments for demilitarization in the region, arguing that, for the most part, countries have compatible interests in the Arctic, and that military investments should be seen as a misallocation of funding.  Instead, she urged Arctic nations to focus on confidence-building measures, particularly by creating a political forum to discuss security and demilitarization.  Our discussion with Admiral Charles Michel about the Coast Guard’s surprisingly diplomatic role in the region was another interesting perspective on Arctic security cooperation.

My interest in the EU was well-represented as well.  In a presentation on EU Arctic policy, I learned how Europe is approaching the region, particularly through the EU Arctic Cluster, a network established to link policy makers with other groups like indigenous peoples, civil society, and business representatives.  I was also fascinated to learn about the EU-Polar Net, the European Union’s consortium of science experts, which coordinates numerous European research projects.  It was impressive to see the degree to which the EU was already cooperating in the region.

True to Fletcher style, I also did my best to take an interdisciplinary approach to the conference, rather than simply focusing on my core academic interests.  Easily my favorite event was the Arctic Innovation Lab, where students from Fletcher, the Harvard Kennedy School and Reykjavik University presented their ideas for concrete improvements to the region, from transshipping ports to indigenous-run tourist businesses to an Arctic investment index.  I was very impressed by my fellow students’ ingenuity.  At another event, a professor from the Arctic University of Norway opened my eyes to the human security element of Arctic affairs by arguing that the common suicide crisis within Nordic countries actually constitutes a security issue in itself.  Another panel discussed environmental hazards in the region, in particular a fascinating presentation about the dangers of a particularly toxic fuel called unsymmetrical dimethyl hydrazine, which was recently used in a Russian satellite launch despite its dangers to human health and the environment being very well known.  I was also pleasantly surprised to see the variety of delegations from non-Arctic countries, especially Asian countries like China, India and Japan, and attended a number of events where they laid out their interests in the region.  As a student who primarily focuses on transatlantic affairs, it was a tremendous opportunity to be exposed to perspectives from other parts of the world.

The conference was not only fascinating from an academic perspective, however.  It also provided the opportunity to get closer to my fellow Fletcher students, and make some new connections as well.  Most memorably, two other Fletcherites and I were fortunate enough to befriend a student from the University of Reykjavik, who gave us a ride away from the light pollution of the city to see the awe-inspiring northern lights.  It was just one of several unforgettable experiences I had while attending the Arctic Circle Assembly.

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Following their return from the Arctic Circle Assembly last month, the Fletcher Maritime Program encouraged students to share their observations in a blog post, and then asked me whether I would be interested in including the posts in the Admissions Blog.  Of course I would!  I’m not sure how many I’ll receive, but today Ana Nichols Orians, a first-year MALD student, writes of her experience in Iceland.

“South Pole at Top of Earth” by Joaquin Torres García.

When I was in college, Latin American writer and activist Eduardo Galeano’s salient prose guided much of my thinking.  One message stood out: we must question the traditional narratives reinforcing colonial dynamics in global politics.  In his book, Upside Down: A Primer for the Looking Glass World, Galeano presents Joaquín Torres García’s map of an upside down Latin America.  From this viewpoint, the global south is emphasized by its proximity to the sun and the moon.

Prior to the Arctic Circle Assembly, Joaquin Garcia’s map was the closest I had ever gotten to thinking about the poles.  I remain dedicated to the idea of focusing on Latin America, especially in terms of reaching my professional goals of being a negotiator on topics pertaining to food, climate, and sustainability.  Attending the Arctic Circle Assembly might not seem like the most logical step towards professional realization.  Yet attending offered the possibility of discovering a more dynamic view of the Arctic while simultaneously learning from diverse actors considering global consequences of climate change and negotiating on policies for global cooperation.  And so, I went to Reykjavik, Iceland, to attend the conference with my internal global map reversed, as per Galeano’s guidance.

The Arctic Circle Assembly attracts some of the most important actors across the globe.  Within the first few hours in Iceland, I witnessed plenary discussions with Bob McLeod, Premier of the Northwest Territories, Peter Seligmann, Chairman of the Board of Conservation International, Nicola Sturgeon, First Minister of Scotland, and H. E. Prime Minister Henry Puna of the Cook Islands, and I even introduced myself to and shook hands with H.E. Ólafur Ragnar Grimsson, chairman of the Arctic Circle and former president of Iceland.  Over three days, religious leaders, scientists, artists, and policy makers led attendees through discussions about their priorities and opened the floor for creative responses.  It was exhilarating and, at times, intimidating.  Luckily, my role as moderator for the Arctic Innovation Lab gave me purpose.

Working with Ryan Uljua, second-year MALD candidate, on his pitch, “An Arctic Investment Index,” afforded me the opportunity to dive deeper into the idea of the Arctic as a new economic frontier.  Ryan presented a new type of investment index designed for the small-scale investor.  The roundtable conversation after his presentation incorporated the voices of students, bankers, and artists, and brought to light the importance of finding balance through corporate social responsibility and sustainability.  Vanessa DiDomenico, another first-year MALD student, pitched the idea “Navigating Vessels Through Compliance” at the lab and discussed the importance of determining safe operations with risk mitigation strategies for the emerging sea-lanes in the Arctic.  The lab provided valuable insight into a “young” perspective of how to manage the region in a sustainable and socially equitable way.

Inherent in the discussions at the Assembly was the question: whose interests will be at the table if the ice melts?  The Arctic narrative I was accustomed to proved limited.  Once again, it was a map that made my preconceived notions evident.  Looking at the map of the Arctic Ocean, one can see how the melting ice accentuates the role of the northern coastlines and the potential for additional sea-lanes, fundamentally changing the scale of global power relations.  Not all stakeholders value the Arctic for the same reason, or for that matter, have the same desired outcome for the region.  Depending on whom you ask, the Arctic provides grossly different services: biodiversity, opportunities for economic investment, pristine environments and glaciers, potential shipping routes, untapped energy, political power, and more.  As with the opening of any frontier, many actors are ready to exploit these resources for their own agenda.

A sustainable future may be a larger conversation than a single map can represent, but it is one that the Arctic Circle Assembly has been developing since its first meeting in 2013.  The future of the Arctic is a global issue and those with the closest proximity and with the most money should not be the sole decision makers.  Understanding the nuances of the political power and the diversity of interest regarding climate change will be fundamental to defining a strategic and sustainable approach to the Arctic.

 

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I was walking outside the building at about 4:00 yesterday and saw a cluster of students huddled around suitcases.  They were in the first stages of their trip to Iceland for this year’s Arctic Circle Assembly, the world’s largest gathering of Arctic-oriented policy makers, business people, and other stakeholders.  The Fletcher contingent, including students, faculty, alumni, and staff members, is organized by Fletcher’s Maritime Studies Program, in collaboration with Fletcher’s Center for International Environment and Resource Policy, Science Diplomacy CenterInternational Security Studies Program, LLM Program, Institute for Human Security, and Institute for Business in the Global Context, as well as Pan-Arctic Options and the Institute for Global Maritime Studies.  Having so many different organizations on board means that students were able to have their participation subsidized with a travel stipend, in hopes (expectation!) that Fletcher would (for the third year in a row) bring the largest non-Icelandic academic delegation to the Arctic Circle Assembly.

A key link between Fletcher and the Arctic Circle Assembly is Fletcher alumna Halla Hrund Logadóttir, F11, who is organizing the Arctic Innovation Lab component of the Assembly.  According to the Fletcher trip organizers, the Arctic Innovation Lab is a platform to bring young and entrepreneurial thinkers into the Arctic debate to help solve its myriad social, economic, and political challenges.  Each participant gets two minutes to pitch an idea, which can be related to anything, but the focus is on sustainable solutions, and then students participate in round-table discussions with experts on their idea.  The top three ideas will be selected as winners by the event organizers.I always feel an ongoing connection to students whom I meet before they apply.  Way back in (probably) 2008, I interviewed Halla before she applied to Fletcher.  It’s very satisfying for me to see the relationship she has built with current students and staff.And Fletcher’s connection to the Arctic won’t end with the Arctic Circle Assembly.  In February, students will organize the seventh annual Fletcher Arctic Conference.

Here is a short video that shows images from last year’s Arctic Circle Assembly and Arctic Innovation Lab and an article on the ideas presented at the Arctic Innovation Lab.  Of course I don’t yet have photos from this year’s Arctic Circle Assembly, but you can follow along on Twitter as Fletcher participants post their observations and the organizers tweet about each day’s panels and events.

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I struggle every year to capture much of what’s going on at Fletcher.  My primary mission is to focus on admissions updates, and there are other sources for Fletcher in the news, but realistically, how much time can any of us spend chasing down current information?  So I try to give blog readers a sense of what’s happening with occasional updates.

In that context, I was happy to find the 2016-2017 annual report from the Center for International Environment and Resource Policy in my inbox.  In addition to the basics, the annual report provides a great snapshot of an active center and opportunities for students.  From conducting research to attending international climate talks, students from all degree programs who focus on environment issues have great options to broaden their learning, and gain skills and experience that goes beyond the classroom.

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This week I’m going to share two updates from the Class of 2011, with my apologies to the writers for neglecting to publish their posts earlier in the spring.  Kimberly came to Fletcher from Jamaica, which given the country’s relatively small size, immediately made her stand out my mind.

Every so often I have a flashback to Commencement day — huddling together for group photos, and then each of my friends, with cautious optimism, sharing plans for our new lives that would begin in just a matter of days.  Was that really five and a half years ago?  So much has happened.  Our class has accomplished so much.

In high school I’d made up my mind that I wouldn’t be contained by the borders of my small island; I was one of those people that Dean Bosworth spoke about at our orientation, looking to “lead an international life.”

At first, the dream manifested as a desire to join Jamaica’s foreign service, and I was fortunate to receive very clear advice from two of Jamaica’s top diplomatic professionals.  They told me that if I was serious about the foreign service, there was only one graduate school for me.  And so, before I had even decided where I would pursue my undergraduate studies, I had accepted my mission: The Fletcher School.  Though it was probably obvious, I didn’t realize at the time that they were both Fletcher grads.

One bachelor’s degree and an embassy internship later, I was heading to Medford.  I had put all my grad school eggs in the Fletcher basket and it had paid off.

By the time I arrived in the Hall of Flags, my interests had shifted.  I’d spent a year in the Ministry of Finance, working on Jamaica’s program with the multilateral banks, and I had a new mission: I was going to work at the World Bank.

I never forgot about that mission, but it lay in the back of my mind while I was busy soaking up the whirlwind awesomeness that is the Fletcher School.  This update is my love song to Blakeley Hall, Fletcher Follies, Los Fletcheros, the annual Ski Trip, and so much more.  To Professor Block, who was a stellar advisor, and to Professor Moomaw and all of CIERP.

Kimberly notes, “When a project has been a success, it makes people happy, sometimes happy enough to plant trees named after you.”

It is five and half years later, and a lot has happened.  I’ve been to several Fletcher weddings, including my own, and I ended up at the World Bank, though in a different sector than I anticipated.  In the Global Water Practice, I work on policy, planning, and capacity building related to water resources infrastructure.  Given the scale of the global water and energy challenges, I can scarcely think of a sector I would rather be working in.

While I didn’t expect my job to take me to so many construction sites, the experience has been both exciting and rewarding.  There is, at the end of the day, something special about seeing a major project coming up out of the ground and knowing you had even the smallest hand in bringing it to fruition.  When I arrive at a client’s office and someone hands me a hard hat, I know it’s going to be a good day.

If I have one misgiving, though, it is that none of my projects to date have taken me anywhere close to Jamaica.  I won’t lie; it tugs at my heartstrings to spend most of my days trying to solve problems everywhere else but there.  I tell myself that there is time for that.

In the meantime, I am enjoying all the incredible Fletcher friendships I made during those two years and the ones I continue to make.  The Fletcher family is real, so real.  It can be hard to stay in touch with folks splintered all over the globe, but nearly everywhere I go, there’s at least one familiar face and it makes all the difference.

I haven’t decided yet what my next mission will be…but I think I’m starting to get some ideas.

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Today I’m happy to report on the latest accomplishment of 2006 MALD graduate Cristiana Paşca Palmer.  I can do so thanks to the outreach of her 2006 classmate Cornelia (Connie) Schneider.

Pasca PalmerFirst, the news.  Cristiana was recently appointed Executive Secretary of the Convention on Biological Diversity by UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon. Cristiana has a long record of accomplishment in the environment arena, and has been actively engaged in international climate talks.  After receiving her MALD, Cristiana stayed on at Fletcher for her PhD studies (receiving the degree in 2014), during which she had a fellowship with the Center for International Environment and Resource Policy.

This is the second time I’ve highlighted Cristiana’s accomplishments, both times because Connie, who is very accomplished herself(!), contacted me.  This is such a sweet tradition and finding Connie’s email message in my inbox this morning was a highlight of my day.  I love how alumni cheer for each other, both because such mutual support is wonderful, and also because it reminds me what a special community I am part of.

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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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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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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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