Final Reflections: Climate Justice at the UN

Me after one of my planning meetings with the Mission and Blue Ocean Law for our upcoming conference in New York.

The Summer has come to a close, but my work with the Permanent Mission of Vanuatu isn’t over yet! As the school year is back in full swing, I have kept up my work with the team in New York managing our social media accounts and collaborating on our legal strategy. I’m looking forward to going to New York in October to join our team at our upcoming conference – make sure to follow our twitter account, @VanuatuUN, for more information! Until then, here are some final reflections on my time at the Mission:

What did you accomplish with your host organization? What was the impact of your work?

The work I did this summer with the Mission is ongoing and supported a lot of communication efforts with the campaign to bring climate change to the International Court of Justice. I hope that my work has contributed to the publicity of the campaign, and I know my blogs have been used as reference point for my boss when he explains the benefits of supporting this campaign in his bilateral meetings. By the end of my time with the Mission, I am also hoping that I can proudly report that we were successful in our endeavor to persuade the UN General Assembly to vote yes on an Advisory Opinion.

Describe the benefits of this experience for you professionally and personally?

On a professional level, this is the type I am interested pursuing a career in, so it was an incredible experience to be working on this campaign through the Mission. I’ve learned so much about international law and the inner workings of the United Nations, especially from a legal perspective. I’ve also been exposed to a lot of new organizations that I had never heard of before, many of which I may be interested in working for after graduation. On a personal level, this work was meaningful to me and I do feel like I am working towards a better future. I had such a wonderful experience working with the team at the Mission and I feel grateful that the CBE provided me with such a unique and fulfilling opportunity.

Did your experience provide any unexpected discovery, self-reflection, or epiphany?

My work centers around the humanity behind climate change, the real people and their stories. When we speak of the Pacific Islands being vulnerable to climate, we are speaking of people who are actively afraid of losing their home. We are speaking of people who have been fighting the western world for years to push for more drastic action through climate negotiations. And the western world has not listened. Time is of the essence. Working in the climate realm can be overwhelming; it is such a large problem and one that we cannot solve alone. It can be easy to get discouraged in this field. For me, it was reaffirming to be working with the Mission, to connect with people who continue to fight and have hope. It reminded why I am pursuing this degree, and why I want to work in this field.

Wrap Up at Wahine Project!

What did you accomplish with your host organization? What was the impact of your work?

This summer working for the Wahine Project, I worked to bring more environmental education to their summer programming. Throughout the summer I was able to design mini lesson plans (at the beach!) and present them to the campers. These lessons included the importance of kelp forests, how climate change is impacting the ocean, the issue of plastic pollution, and the importance of indigenous land acknowledgments. We also did lessons about female empowerment, mental/physical health, impacts of social media, menstruation, LGBTQ+ representation in surfing and more! It was incredible to talk to campers about such important topics. The overall impact of my work was educating girls ages 6-17 about marine related issues and topics, and hopefully empowering them to become ocean stewards. Also empowering them to be confident, self-loving and kind people. To love their bodies no matter what society tells them! I also wanted to show the campers that it is possible to use your career to help our ocean. As a young girl, I wish I had a role model who did this type of work! I always began lessons talking about what I am studying in graduate school and how I got here, to serve as a role model for them. I hope my time at the Wahine Project will also lead to more environmental education within its camps after I leave!

One of the kelp forest lessons! This was one of my favorite lessons to teach. Kelp is cool!
Continue reading

NOAA MPA Center: End of Fellowship Reflection

Hello everyone! My 11 week internship with the NOAA Marine Protected Areas Center has officially ended on August 19th. While I provided updates on my internship in my last two posts, I hope to do more of a reflection in this blog post.

What did you accomplish with your host organization? What was the impact of your work?

My primary accomplishment with the NOAA MPA Center this summer was the development of a guidance report for sanctuary staff on the potential role and deployment of marine Carbon Dioxide Removal (mCDR) technologies in national marine sanctuaries. The report categorizes the six technologies based on their level of environmental risk—low, medium, or high—and then by their likely acceptance in sanctuaries—allow or encouraged, considered with caution for experimental scale, and considered with the utmost caution with regard to the precautionary principle. This guidance report was developed since there is increasing Congressional interest in marine CDR and results from a survey conducted with select Office of National Marine Sanctuary staff indicate there are external inquiries for mCDR deployment in sanctuaries as well as an interest among concerned parties in learning more about the subject. The guidance report will likely be distributed internally to sanctuary staff and hopefully published in NOAA’s Conservation Series to expand its impact to MPA staff and beyond.

Describe the benefits of this experience for you professionally and personally?

There were numerous benefits I gained from this internship both professionally and personally. Professionally, this project has brought together my marine science background and my marine policy education that I am currently learning. This nexus has been a focus of my career goals and I am thrilled to have been able to conduct such research. It is my aim to be able to communicate marine science to a broad audience and generally have marine policy better reflect the sciences. Thus far, most of experience has consisted of local scientific research and interning with non-profits. Through this internship I was able to gain perspective on how our nation manages and protects our marine resources. Next, I hope to use my past experiences to learn more about marine resource management on an international scale.

Since I am still young in my career, this internship is one of the few longer term working experiences I have had. It took some adjustment going from a school schedule to a work schedule and I felt myself taking many breaks. However, I enjoyed the work-life balance I developed for myself and felt that it was actually possible to achieve. Additionally, I personally really enjoyed my co-workers and engaging with them on a day-to-day basis which made it easier to take on the work day everyday.

Did your experience provide any unexpected discovery, self-reflection, or epiphany?

During my internship, I had the great fortune of having incredible supervisors, Lauren Wenzel, MPA Center Director and Zac Cannizzo, Climate Coordinator. Lauren and Zac, along with her numerous responsibilities, gave much of their time and effort to the interns on both the intern’s projects and professional development. For my main project, they consistently highlighted the importance of my contribution and spent a significant amount of time providing suggestions and revisions. Lauren and Zac often looped me into NOAA meetings so I could learn about various projects and initiatives and would introduce me to different NOAA professionals. I am so fortunate to say that Lauren and Zac were great examples of truly good leadership. Moreover, it is great to witness inspiring woman in leadership in such a male dominated field. It is my only hope that everyone can have this positive leadership experience in their working career.

Thank you to The Center for Blue Economy, CBE donors, MIIS professors, and NOAA staff for a great summer internship!

Although my internship was remote, below are some images of meeting locations for my internship that were in-person:

I met with some Monterey Bay National Marine Sanctuary staff outside of the office in the heart of Monterey.
Also in beautiful downtown Monterey, I met with a retired NOAA MPA Center staff member from the Monterey office who was also a previous adjunct professor at MIIS

Seafood Analytics Software Update

Hi all! My summer has been very busy with work as I’m sure everyone’s has. Throughout the summer I continued my work with the Virgil Group as a Research Analyst. For context, the Virgil Group is an environmental consultancy and in this past spring semester I worked as a Policy Analyst Intern to research the connection between IUU fishing and transnational organized crime. I concluded my internship with an issue brief (which you can read here) and since then it has been extremely exciting to get involved with the rest of the work that Virgil does.

Continue reading

Final Reflection: in SEARCH of Arctic Solutions

What did you accomplish with your host organization? What was the impact of your work?

This summer I worked with the of Study of Environmental Arctic Change (SEARCH) on a variety of activities, but as my main project I organized and shared a database of sources which SEARCH participants will use as they research and write publications. While I assisted SEARCH’s directors and executive committee with meetings and other activities, this task was for the most part mine to lead. I collected articles, reports, essays, books, and other sources and entered them into the database to make them easily available to everyone involved with SEARCH. I also created an instructional video for all team members showing how to use the database, and presented my work to the executive committee. I hope that as they continue researching, writing, and publishing their products, SEARCH participants will benefit greatly from the convenience of the newly organized database.

Continue reading

Midsummer Update: Arctic Research from (mostly) Home

Mid-way through my summer fellowship with the Study of Environmental Arctic Change (SEARCH), I settled in to a routine of working and meeting with my supervisors to exchange updates with them on our work. Since I worked mostly alone on my project, and remotely (with the exception of a two-day in-person meeting in Anchorage), my supervisors and I decided to meet often to prevent me from becoming disconnected from them. Fortunately, SEARCH conducts meetings mostly online because its participants live at great distances from one another, so it felt easy for me to keep closely in touch with them throughout the entire summer.

Continue reading

EDF Reflection

The view of the Bay Bridge from the EDF San Francisco Office.

This summer has been such an amazing experience. I had a great mentor during my time at EDF and I joined a team that was welcoming and supportive since the first minute we met. I was given time to check in with other people from different teams across EDF who my mentor thought would be great to chat with based on what my interests were. I was given lots of advice and learned that there are organizations in the world that do what I dream of doing in my career.

I’ve learned the what kind of workplace I enjoy and also what kind of workplace I don’t feel is the best fit for me (remote work is hard). I think one of the biggest pieces I’ll be taking with me from this summer is just knowing that at least EDF is transparent about their work than I initially believed. I know organizations always say their transparent, but how do we really know? This has always been something I’ve been cautious about when looking at where I am getting my information and where I am considering working. Now that I have worked at EDF, I understand that the organization, or at least the Oceans teams, are incredibly transparent about what their doing and how their doing it. As well as simply how inclusive the organization is striving to become, not only internally with their employees, but how they go about projects and making sure stakeholder involvement is at an all time high.

From the weekly team meetings to the behind the scenes look into how EDF works, I’ve enjoyed every minute of my time at EDF and couldn’t have imaged a better place to learn and grow this summer.

EDF Presentations

Hello Hello! I had the opportunity to present my main projects during my time at EDF with the entire Oceans team. Was it nerve wracking? Yes. Right before my first presentation about my policy memo on the UN Shared Stocks Agreement, I realized who I was really presenting to. I was surrounded by a group of incredibly knowledgeable and experienced people who are out in the world doing important things. But once that initial thought came and went, I began to tell myself, everyone here is quite similar to me. We are all striving for new and innovative ways to protect our oceans and make sure people can use its resources for generations to come.

Once I calmed myself down a little, it was time for me to present. It was so exciting getting to share my analysis and how EDF’s Fishery Toolkit could be useful on a larger scale to help fisheries of all sizes comply with the Agreement and its recommendations. I received great feedback and even a few great questions!

My second presentation was to the Fishery Solutions Center team. I presented on my work to help the Capacity Development team with the creation of the new and improved Fishery Toolkit website. This was such a fun project! I had the opportunity to learn so much about a decent portion of the tools EDF shares with stakeholders, fishers, and fishery managers to help them in the transition to more sustainable practices. I even got to take one of the stories on how the tool had been used in the real world from beginning to end. I also learned how to use a web design platform called Drupal, which was the hardest part of my fellowship. I, by no means, have any design skills and the platform was incredibly technical. Overall, this presentation was met with such great responses and everyone was excited to see the website once it’s officially launched!

CBE Summer Fellowship Final Reflection

1. What did you accomplish with your host organization? What was the impact of your work?

In the short term, I helped EDF choose the Philippines as the focus country of their seaweed aquaculture program. Myself and two other interns chose selection criteria to apply to candidate countries. Then were each assigned countries to research and had to report back on how they graded out according to our criteria. The criteria included biological factors, environmental justice factors, and real world restraints. The biological factors were mainly how well species of seaweed would grow in the coastal waters of certain countries. The environmental justice factors were more complex. The hope is that eventually countries can use seaweed as a verified carbon sink in their nationally determined contributions (NDCs). Countries with low historical and per capita GHG emissions were favored, to give them a way to continue to develop their economies while still meeting mitigation goals. In a sense, we were looking for countries with a high marginal mitigation cost, that could benefit greatly from using seaweed and other blue carbon ecosystems in their GHG inventories. Real world restraints consisted of factors such as EDF presence on-ground, history of partnership between EDF and the country, and a cultural history of seaweed consumption. The Philippines scored well according to our criteria because it already grows and harvests the 4th most seaweed globally (strong cultural ties to seaweed), has a long working relationship with EDF, and has very low per capita and historical GHG emissions. The Philippines want to continue to develop its economy and infrastructure but also wants to commit to climate mitigation goals. Hopefully seaweed can allow them to accomplish both, while also providing a climate resilient source of food and income to local residents.

Continue reading