An Ocean of Reflection

I started my CBE Fellowship at the Ocean Risks and Resilience Action Alliance (ORRAA) by the end of May, and not with an online onboarding meeting. It was a trip to the UK! They invited me to their all-staff meeting and I was super excited to participate. This organization was founded in 2019 to build a bridge between two worlds. The world of real projects on the ground – or “on the ocean” projects I must say -, led by local governments, non-profits, and communities; and the world of finance, which to me feels like the “deep sea”. Beautiful, scary and intriguing, but that I definetely want to learn more about.

Read more: An Ocean of Reflection

ORRAA is registered in Washington DC, but with a global scope of action, and a strong team based in Europe. Lucky me that I started my CBE Fellowship just when the whole team was going to meet for the first time after the pandemic. I didn’t have summer expectations of the English beaches, but there I was, happily surprised by the sunny and warm beginning of the summer in Poole, on the southern coast of England. I was eager to learn as much as I could about the work of the organization and I was ready to embrace an ocean of new acronyms!

I often think about myself as an introvert, but my next reflections will be more intimate. I’ve experienced so many things during the last 2 months that I cannot decouple my academic and professional life from my personal life.

On my second morning in Poole, I received a call from Nico, my younger brother from Chile. He told me “el papá tiene cancer y está muy avanzado” (“Dad has cancer and it’s very advanced”). I got paralyzed, to be honest. “What am I doing so far away when my dad needs the most powerful hug I could ever give?”, I thought. 

Running by the ocean has always brought me peace and helped me to organize my thoughts and explore my feelings. Before starting the activities of that day, I went for a run to the beach, and it did bring me the clarity I needed. I decided that after the trip to England, I would go back to California, organize my personal life and work, and then would fly to Chile to support my dad in all that I could. I had a conversation with my supervisor at ORRAA, Ariane, and I proposed to work remotely from Chile. She fully supported it. Given that ORRAA is a 100% remote organization, I felt so lucky that I could do my work from wherever in the world and with the flexibility that I would need. 

This was the intense beginning of my summer. Full of reflection but also enthusiasm, sad and happy at the same time. I am currently in Chile, multitasking with my dad’s cancer treatment, my personal life, and the work I’m doing for ORRAA. It has been a good time to reconnect with my country and go out to the nature that inspires me to work in this field. Nature that also heals. Thanks to the support that I’ve received from my partner, friends, the MIIS community, Fulbright Chile, and ORRAA, it was never an option to quit my fellowship.

I am intellectually curious to learn and contribute to what ORRAA does. It is a unique NGO because is the only member-based organization that focuses on the interface of ocean and coastal resilience, and blue finance.  NGOs, philanthropic organizations, corporations, financial institutions, and prominent governments share a formal and voluntary platform to advance investments that support our oceans and coasts. I’m contributing to the following workstreams (and here I go with the acronyms!): the HQBCP&G, the TNFD framework, and the External Affairs ongoing functions.

The High-Quality Blue Carbon Principles and Guidelines (HQBCP&G) are a joint effort to create standards for blue carbon projects that are appropriate for the climate, biodiversity, and communities. I am supporting a consulting team in Australia to advance the adoption of these principles. 

The Task Force on Nature-Related Financial Disclosures (TNFD) is a still-in-development framework anchored in Target 15 a) of the Kunming-Montreal Global Biodiversity Framework, that will allow the private sector to assess its nature-related dependencies, risks, and opportunities. I am working to guide ORRAA members to engage with this framework and strengthen it from the perspective of the ocean.

Within the External Affairs team, I am supporting the engagement of new members of the alliance (including Chile), consolidating a library of resources for the Sea Change Impact Finance Facility (SCIFF), and supporting the development of position briefs regarding critical issues such as seabed mining or ocean-related priorities for COP 28.

After these 2 months, I can only say that I feel extremely lucky despite what I’m going through, and I’m mobilized to continue learning and working hard. 


Leave a Reply