Latest Article: World Bank VP visits Tufts Fletcher School School of Law and Diplomacy

Journalism, Tufts Daily

This week was a busy one for The Daily. We’ve been operating out of a make-shift office (thanks to flooding in the Daily office!), and the execs of each section have been under a lot of stress. I’ve written a lot this week, after taking on 2 extra articles, with one being put on the backburner for the moment. Anyway, here’s the latest article, about World Bank’s Andrew Steer (kind of a big deal!)

Steer discusses World Bank’s efforts on climate control

World Bank Special Envoy for Climate Change Andrew Steer visited the Hill last night to discuss the World Bank’s initiatives and work concerning climate change and the intersection of policy and action in controlling its effects.

The lecture was part of Fletcher School of Law and Diplomacy Professor William Moomaw’s Sustainable Development Diplomacy course. Moomaw is also the director of the Center for International Environment and Resource Policy at the Fletcher School.

Steer’s position with the World Bank is equivalent to vice-president of the organization, according to Moomaw.

At the World Bank, Steer directs and implements plans in over 130 countries with regard to creating a more environmentally conscious attitude toward climate, overseeing the $6.5 billion dollar Climate Investment Funds. With more than three years of experience in the World Bank and in diplomacy concerning environmental and resource policy, Steer brought his expertise to Tufts and discussed the urgency of creating effective policy and supporting grassroots and national-level organizations.

“There are two worlds: negotiation and action,” Steer said. “We’re hoping to bring the action into negotiation to create something that gives us a chance.”

He noted that there is a distinct difference between policy and implementation.

“There are many dimensions to what the World Bank is doing,” he added. “We look at the science of climate change, and we can’t afford to wait … By 2015, we shouldn’t be getting [international] agreements to address climate change, but doing something.”

Steer began the lecture by drawing a distinction between present and past attitudes toward climate control. Nations and their leaders seek input from the World Bank when creating climate-related policies and providing financial backing for projects that research and take action to reverse issues such as global warming and rising sea levels.

“Fifty years ago, there was a belief that climate control was a problem for rich people,” he said. “Ten years ago, 10 percent of our clients worldwide said ‘climate control is so important; it should be one of the top four things we work on.’ Last year, 95 percent said ‘please make climate change one of the top three or four things you’re working on.'”

He noted that the goal is to limit global warming to two degrees Celsius, though he thinks that a more realistic expectation would be a four-degree increase.

“This is not about tweaking at the margins; we can’t gradually do it differently,” he said. “These are choices, and you can’t straddle between two paths very long.”

Steer cited successful endeavors in South Africa, Qatar and China but said that the organization still has a long way to go in stopping climate change.

“The bad news is, even with all of our plans added together, with the most optimistic agenda, we’re nowhere close to where we want to be,” Steer said.

Steer discussed the emotional and economic devastation that often accompanies unsuccessful planning and policy reform.

“To allow negotiations to throw away our futures … it’s a great tragedy,” he said. “It is important we do not lose that in our sophisticated diplomacy. Let’s not forget there are issues of justice here and issues related to our children, and our children’s children.”

The event drew approximately 50 attendees — a mix of graduate and undergraduate students along with residents of the surrounding communities.

Moomaw implements and arranges such events to provide students with a grounded image and understanding of the career opportunities and realities of those endeavoring to change and improve the global approach to climate change.

“The course plays back and forth between reading articles and discussions, and we’re having people here who are doing this stuff,” Moomaw said. “In the conversation surrounding climate control, there’s nothing about the World Bank, yet the World Bank is doing so much, and it’s working in many ways on the international level. We talk about this as a theoretical concept, but it’s actually quite different when you have someone like Mr. Steer here, because this is what he does.”

During the semester, Moomaw invites at least five high-level individuals in the field of sustainable development to speak to students.

“Having the vice president of the World Bank is a pretty big deal,” Moomaw said.

Esther Johnson, a Medford resident and student at Lesley University, was interested in learning about the intersection between finance and environmental sustainability.

“Sometimes it seems like ‘sustainability’ is just a buzz-word, a filler for ‘green’ or ‘environmentally-friendly,'” she told the Daily. “I can’t say I understand all of the specifics of Mr. Steer’s lecture, but it’s nice to know there’s work being done on the ground.”

Tallash Kantai, a first-year Fletcher student, recalled her experiences working for the International Institute of Sustainable Development as part of a team that often implemented the sort of policies Steer spoke about.

“It was very interesting to hear it from a financial perspective,” she said.

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