Four Arts & Sciences students are part of the delegation of faculty, staff and students attending the 23rd session of the Conference of the Parties (COP23) to the United Nations Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) this week in Bonn, Germany.
“My background is in environmental governance and sustainable development, so one of my main goals for the conference was to learn firsthand about how these play out on an international scale,” Christina Yin ‘19, a Biology & Society major. “How can we create a global agreement that will address the needs of the most vulnerable nations and incentivize not-as-vulnerable nations to take immediate action?”
The COP23 conference is an annual gathering of world leaders to assess their progress in dealing with climate change. Universities, corporations and non-governmental organizations are also invited to attend to share their climate change initiatives and implementation strategies.
“Fiji presided over the negotiations and served as the president of the COP for the next year,” Yin said. “As such, I was very interested in how a nation currently experiencing some of the very tangible effects of climate change, such as severe flooding and human displacement from sea level rise, would steer the discussions.”
Students at the conference had the opportunity to attend events and talks featuring speakers from various countries and sectors.
“I attended an engaging talk which featured speakers including ministers from Malawi and Bosnia and Herzegovina, as well as a finance officer from the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations,” said Yin, who is currently working with the U.S. Department of State on a project to profile country approaches to achieving the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). “The panel discussed climate finance contributions from the private sector, challenges and opportunities and case studies of projects in the two developing countries.”
Celina Scott-Buechler ’18, a College Scholar who is studying marine science and coastal sustainability, attended several discussions on nearshore ecosystems in the Caribbean and what transnational solutions are available for climate impact mitigation. Scott-Buechler is writing her honors thesis on coral bleaching in the Caribbean.
“COP23 was an impactful experience for me, personally and professionally,” she said. “Several Caribbean heads of state and heads of environmental agencies were on these panels or in the audiences, enabling me to directly discuss my work with them and gain firsthand insight on coral conservation and management in the region.”
Daniel Holod ’18, an economics major who conducted research in Indonesia this summer on climate smart agriculture for his honors thesis, attended panels focused on promoting sustainable farming practices. He was able to interact with researchers and policy makers with an interest in smart agriculture.
“One of the speakers I was able to hear from was a recipient of a Noble Peace Prize,” Holod said. “COP23 was an incredible time to get such a diverse level of expertise on the topic of my thesis, and this was just one of many experiences that not only bolstered my research, but allowed me to view international governance, especially regarding climate change, firsthand.”
Yvette Lisa Ndlovu is a communications assistant for the College of Arts & Sciences.