UMass Boston Delegation Travels to Ethiopia For Environmental Diplomacy Workshop and IGERT Engagement
February 5, 2016  //  By:   //  Blog Post, Event  //  No Comment

DSC_0397UMass Boston, the Global Environmental Governance Project, and the Center for Governance and Sustainability continue to strengthen their ties to Ethiopia through Addis Ababa University and the Horn of Africa Regional Environment Center and Network (HoA-REC&N). From January 11th to 23rd, a UMass Boston delegation traveled to Addis Ababa (Ethiopia) for a series of activities related to the University’s institutional partnerships with Addis Ababa University (AAU), HoA-REC&N and the IGERT Coasts and Communities program. Six colleges and schools were represented: the McCormack Graduate School of Policy and Global Studies, the School for the Environment, the College of Science and Math, the College of Liberal Arts, the College of Management, and the College of Education.

During the first week of the trip, the Umass delegation delivered the Regional Environment Diplomacy Institute (REDI), a three-day workshop co-organized by the Center and HoA-REC&N. Dean David Cash, Professors Maria Ivanova and Jeff Pugh, and several doctoral students delivered the workshop. Intended to augment Ethiopia’s capacity to effectively negotiate environmental issues at international agreements and treaties, the workshop trained past, current, and future members of Ethiopia’s environmental negotiating teams. Participants included public servants from the Ethiopian Environmental Protection Authority, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, and representatives from civil society.

Over the course of three days, participants learned advanced negotiation techniques, studied Ethiopia’s role in numerous multilateral environmental agreements, and engaged in a mock negotiation on a fabricated environmental treaty. The workshop was lively and much appreciated by the participants, many of whom have been part of Ethiopia’s negotiation team at existing environmental agreements.


In the second week of the visit, the delegation of IGERT fellows arrived and began engaging with our Ethiopian partners. UMass Boston’s IGERT program on Coasts and Communities is designed to train the next generation of interdisciplinary problem-solvers, equipping them with the skills necessary to tackle problems in human-natural systems. In Ethiopia, the fellows engaged with human-natural systems in a country with very different institutions, a fundamentally different economy, and a closer relationship with the health of its environment.

Fellows first met with environmental and political leaders at HoA-REC&N’s main office at Gulele Botanical gardens. Attendees included representatives from the Ethiopian Chamber of Commerce, the Institute of Biodiversity, the U.S. State Department, and more. There, they heard presentations on Ethiopia’s relationship to climate change, economic growth, and more. After hearing presentation, fellows met with presenters and attendees in breakout groups designed to connect the fellows with research opportunities in the Horn of Africa. Later in the week, the fellows spent the day at AAU, exploring potential collaborations with the College of Development, the management faculty, and more.

The UMass Boston delegation also met with Dr. Osamu Saito and graduate student Sileshi Degefa from United Nations University’s Institute for Advanced Sustainability Studies (UNU-IAS). The UMass Boston team and the UNU-IAS team discussed potential collaboration between the two universities and AAU. Additionally, everyone traveled to Lake Ziway together to learn about Dr. Saito and Sileshi’s research site on the impacts of industrial agriculture on food security and biodiversity. Though they were not able to visit the research site directly due to road conditions, the delegation did get the opportunity to experience the surrounding environment and learn about Ethiopian life outside of Addis Ababa.

The trip to Ethiopia accomplished a number of key objectives for UMass Boston. The success of the first REDI laid the groundwork for future collaboration between UMass Boston and Horn of Africa environmental negotiators. The IGERT Fellows were exposed to research and collaboration opportunities for their dissertation and future projects. And UMass Boston strengthened its connections to Addis Ababa University, HoA-REC&N, and UNU-IAS.


About the Author :

Gabriela Bueno is a PhD student in Global Governance and Human Security at the University of Massachusetts Boston, and a research associate at the Center for Governance and Sustainability.

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