Growing up in a coastal community, I had always been interested in the environment, especially in marine biodiversity. This interest eventually branched out to research topics I pursued and even organizations I joined. During my undergraduate years, I wrote several papers focusing on the role of environmental movements in policymaking. Meanwhile, for my undergraduate thesis, I explored the effect of foreign capital on developing countries’ environmental commitments. Recently, the ongoing pandemic has made me better realize the direct interlinkages of the environment and human health. This is because the COVID-19 pandemic is widely regarded as a zoonotic disease and has been framed as an environmental issue. Since last year, I have been reading up on environmental diplomacy and international environmental cooperation. It is important to note that environmental degradation does not recognize state boundaries and, as such, requires a global concerted effort. Finding people to discuss these ideas was my main motivation for applying to the Digital Dialogues program.
I have learned a lot from the speakers and my co-delegates. I found the lecture of Richie Merzian, Director of the Climate and Energy Program at The Australia Institute, insightful as it delved into the political economy aspect of environmental issues. Moreover, I also enjoyed the Policy Ideation Board activity. I think it gave the delegates an avenue to get to learn the environmental situation in different countries and collaborate in coming up with solutions. It’s also interesting that many parts of the region are experiencing similar environmental impacts highlighting the transnational nature of environmental degradation.
Environmental problems are global problems that require global solutions to be properly addressed. The recent report by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) revealed that climate change has already affected every inhabited region across the globe. Moreover, it is also expected that human-induced climate change will make way for more extreme climate and weather disturbances globally. Among other things, the report highlights the universality of the effects of climate change. As such, there is a need to respond immediately and effectively to environmental and climate issues based on a fair share pathway. I believe that international conferences like the Digital Dialogues bring us closer to more concerted and better-coordinated climate plans and action. I am pleased to be a part of the Digital Dialogues because it allowed me to hear the different delegates talk about how environmental problems are affecting their respective milieus and brainstorm solutions to address environmental problems. Lastly, I would like to extend my deepest appreciation to the organizers, delegates, and guest speakers for making the Digital Dialogues a successful event.