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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.
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.
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.
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.
First, 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.
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.
I 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
At 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.
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.
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.
When I was walking from my bus to Fletcher this morning, I was struck by how lovely the campus looks. We’ve had a hot and dry summer, but this morning was cool and clear — a taste of what September and the fall will bring.
Though the weather and Orientation have us looking toward the fall semester, today I’m going to look back at some of the summer’s news that you may or may not have seen in other Fletcher sources.
I’ll start with something you won’t have read, but it’s pretty cool. Tufts will have an observer team at the United Nations climate negotiations (COP 22) in Marrakech, Morocco in November, and students were invited to apply to participate. The team at the Center for International Environment and Resource Policy will submit the nominations for official observer status.
And speaking of CIERP, the crew there is always busy in the summer. Mieke van der Wansem, F90, associate director for educational programs at CIERP, spent part of her summer with an international group of sustainability professionals at an executive education course organized by the Sustainability Challenge Foundation in the Netherlands. She co-led the faculty of the International Programme on the Management of Sustainability, which focused on negotiation and consensus building.
Not new CIERP news, but a new wrap up — check out this Tufts Now story on the Paris Climate Conference.
Continuing with the staff/faculty theme, Professor Cheyanne Scharbatke-Church told us about a new blog on corruption in fragile states that, she wrote, touches on many areas of interest to the Fletcher community, including “power analysis, systems thinking, aid ineffectiveness, good governance, fragile states etc.” She also explained that many of the posts are derived from work that Professor Diana Chigas and she are doing, “looking at the intersection of corruption, justice and legitimacy.”
In news from the Institute for Business in the Global Context, Dean Bhaskar Chakravorti, PhD student Ravi Shankar Chaturvedi, and MALD/PhD graduate Ben Mazzotta, have posed the question, “What countries would benefit most from a cashless world?” Their answer, which builds on the work of their Digital Evolution Index and the Cost of Cash research, can be found in their Harvard Business Review article that evaluates “the absolute costs of using cash around the globe to find what countries could unlock the most value by moving to a cashless society.”
And now some summer news about alumni.
Christina Sass, F09, is one of four co-founders of the two-year-old startup company, Andela, which is now backed by both Google and the Chan-Zuckerberg Foundation. So many of our students and alumni work with small organizations, and it’s exciting to see one receive so much love!
Since graduating, Patrick Kabanda, F13, has been busy writing on cultural development for the World Bank, including “Creative Natives in the Digital Age”, “Music for Development in the Digital Age”, “The Arts, Africa and Economic Development: The problem of Intellectual Property Rights,” “Mozart seduces the World Bank and the IMF” (a blog post), and just recently, for the Inter-American Development Bank, “‘The World Sends Us Garbage, We Send Back Music’: Lessons from the Recycled Orchestra in Paraguay.”
And finally, Fletcher has developed a series of video answers to the question, “Why Fletcher?” This summer, Elise Crane, F11, offered her perspective.
Even as I noted yesterday how quiet it is at Fletcher this month, there are a few things going on around here. First, there’s a group of diplomats on campus for a short-term executive program. And second, there’s a panel in ASEAN Auditorium this evening on women in the environment field. The panel will be moderated by Professor Barbara Kates-Garnick. Here are all the details.
“The Business of Getting to Clean Energy & Environment”
July 12, 2016 from 5:00-8:30 p.m.
New England Woman in Energy and the Environment (NEWIEE) is hosting the second-annual Women Shaping the Agenda Panel to share ideas and experience related to the practical and business aspects of our clean energy and environment future.
“NEWIEE’s panel series strives to provide a forum for the constructive and informative discussion of topics of interest today to environmental and energy professionals,” said Beth Barton, NEWIEE Board of Directors President and Partner at Day Pitney LLP. “NEWIEE’s goal is to bring together experienced and young professionals from across New England for an open conversation about clean energy and environmental issues for our region and beyond.”
Further information and tickets, if still available, can be found on the event page.
A couple of weeks ago, I highlighted the United Nations speech of Fletcher professor and alumna, Rachel Kyte. Shortly thereafter, another graduate, Cornelia Schneider, F06, wrote to make me aware of the signing ceremony speech of Dr. Cristiana Pasca, a 2014 graduate of the PhD program and 2006 MALD graduate, and currently the Environment Minister of Romania. Click on the photo below to watch the speech.
It’s always satisfying to see our graduates in action, and I also particularly appreciate how alumni watch out for each other, such as in this case when Connie took the time to make me and the alumni office aware of the great work her MALD classmate is doing.
I love hearing from alumni, and not only when they send me news for the blog. But if they happen to send something newsworthy, well, I’m certainly going to seize the opportunity to share.
On Monday, I was pleasantly surprised by an email from Atanas, a 2015 grad. He recently started in a new position at the UN’s Food and Agriculture Organization, working on climate resilience. I’ll let him continue the story:
Last week I was lucky to be working at the Executive Office of the UN Secretary General on the organization of the Paris agreement signature ceremony, and on Friday, I witnessed first-hand this historic moment. I met a few presidents, including Colombia’s President and Fletcher grad Juan Manuel Santos, and had a brief chat with Leo DiCaprio who is UN Messenger of Peace and delivered a speech during the ceremony. It was certainly a day to remember.
But one of the most powerful experiences I had was listening to a Fletcher alumna who spoke on a panel in the afternoon of the same day — Rachel Kyte, who is the CEO of Sustainable Energy for All (SE4ALL) and Special Representative of the Secretary General. She talked only for five minutes but completely captivated the audience and, according to everyone working in this area, hers was one of the best speeches given in a long time.
I’ll plug in a few details about Rachel Kyte. She’s a 2002 graduate of the GMAP program and, also, currently a Fletcher professor of practice of sustainable development, associated with the Center for International Environment and Research Policy.
The forum at which Atanas heard her speak was “Taking Climate Action to the Next Level: Realizing the Vision of the Paris Agreement.” Click the photo below to hear her comments following a question at about 1:47:00.
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