An SDG filled Summer

SDG–Sustainable Development Goals, were put forth by the United Nations (UN) in 2015 as part of a global development framework that interlinks environmental, social and economic wellbeing. 

Having learned more about the SDGs in Applied Conservation Science and Policy in the Spring 2023 term, it is exciting seeing them in action and how they are used to focus the work of the UN. 

Visually, reminders of the SDGs are everywhere–big blocks in the cafe, pencil holders, and coffee mugs serve as desk reminders of the SDGs. More than just visuals however, reports and presentations refer to what SDG they are supporting and which ones they are striving to include. 

The SDGs that I am working on primarily are SDG 13: Climate Action and 14: Life Underwater. In the first blog, I wrote briefly about the work I’m doing on NbS (Nature-based solutions 😉 ) in Kien Giang biosphere reserve, which is a part of the Mekong Delta. These NbS serve to conserve and preserve coastlines, increasing the biodiversity in and along the waters while improving the livelihood of the communities.    

While these are my primary focus, I have also been able to sit in, learn about JET. JET refers to the Just Energy Transition, making sure the shift to renewable energy includes socio-economic and equitable policy. I have also been tasked with incorporating NbS as part of the Climate-Health Nexus for Viet Nam which works on creating a resilient health system in Viet Nam while improving health outcomes, a critical project as Viet Nam is ranked one of the countries to be most affected by climate change.  

In the coming weeks my team will be doing a site visit, to better determine how NbS can be applied and the interests and needs of the community. I won’t be able to attend these site visits since I will be heading back to Monterey to start another semester at MIIS. I am incredibly grateful for this opportunity to work on NbS for coastal resilience in Viet Nam. I will continue to be in contact with my team at the UNDP and help them finalize the GEF8 proposal.

Supporting SDG 5 😉 as Viet Nam’s women’s team plays in the World Cup for the first time.

The SDG blocks set up for an IOM campaign on the day against human trafficking.

NbS: Nature-based Solutions alternatively, Notta-bad Summer

Ha noi means between rivers. That was clear when crossing over the bridge from Noi Bai International Airport into the capital of Viet Nam, Hanoi. While the location name of my fellowship was clear, the work I would be doing was less well-defined.

The Terms of Reference outlining the details of the project I would be working on were broad, though intentionally, as the project was just beginning. After a few days of UN onboarding modules, I got settled into a scoping project for the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) to submit to the Global Environment Facility (GEF) 8.

Read more: NbS: Nature-based Solutions alternatively, Notta-bad Summer

GEF finances projects aimed at mitigating the effects of climate change. The UNDP’s GEF8 proposal is looking to harness nature-based solutions (NbS) in the Mekong Delta. These NbS use “soft” or “green” infrastructure to leverage the power of healthy ecosystems to protect people and safeguard a stable and biodiverse future. It has been fun having the time to deep dive and focus on a project that has the potential to become a reality; accessing the tradeoffs and feasibility of different “blue carbon,” coastal and ocean ecosystems, such as mangroves, corals, seagrasses, and mudflats which are all endemic to the region and then synthesizing that information into reports. The proposal feels like the perfect intersection of my Environmental Science bachelors, my International Environmental Policy masters, and past research. In addition to the work, everyone is incredibly welcoming and supportive. It has also been exciting that, in Viet Nam, all of the various UN agencies are in the same office, so stepping into the elevator one can speak (briefly) to someone from UNICEF, UNESCO, FOA, etc. Being in this amalgam has allowed me to participate in UN-wide learning programs, webinars, and events.

I haven’t had too much free time; people here work late! But I’ve explored a bit of Hanoi’s food scene, become obsessed with <3 coconut coffee <3, and last weekend took a trip up to the northern region of Sa Pa. I stayed in a homestay and the two sisters (Mau and Sou) took me trekking through the rice paddies where we saw water buffalo, views of other villages, and some agroforestry with green tea!

All in all the CBE fellowship with the UNDP working on NbS has felt surreal. I’m so grateful that I have this opportunity and look forward to what I will learn the rest of summer. 

Hannah Ditty: Blue Carbon and Nature-based Solutions in the Mekong Delta

United Nations Development Programme (UNDP)
Hanoi, Vietnam
June 5th – September 1st, 2023

Coastal ecosystems – mangroves, coral reefs, seagrasses, and tidal marshes – are some of the most productive on Earth. In recent years, their significant role in sequestering and storing ‘blue carbon’ is also increasingly being recognized by policymakers. In addition to mitigation benefits, these coastal ‘blue carbon’ ecosystems are home to a wealth of biodiversity and provide communities with essential ecosystem services, such as coastal protection from storms and land erosion, and nursery grounds for fish. As such, they provide a full spectrum of mitigation, adaptation, and protection benefits. The conservation, protection, restoration, and sustainable management of these important ‘blue carbon’ ecosystems are therefore valuable climate actions, which can be achieved from the application of nature-based solutions (NbS).

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