Mining for the clean energy transition

November 9, 2022
The MIT Conference on Mining, Environment, and Society convened academics, industry, government officials and NGOs to discuss the environmental and social challenges of supplying the materials for solar, batteries, the electric grid and more, and to identify opportunities for future collaboration.

In a world powered increasingly by clean energy, drilling for oil and gas will gradually give way to digging for metals and minerals. Today, the “critical minerals” used to make electric cars, solar panels, wind turbines and grid-scale battery storage are facing soaring demand—and some acute bottlenecks as miners race to catch up. According to the International Energy Agency, by 2040, the worldwide demand for copper is expected to roughly double; demand for nickel and cobalt, to grow at least sixfold; and the world’s hunger for lithium could reach 40 times what we use today.

“Society is looking to the clean energy transition as a way to solve the environmental and social harms of climate change,” says Scott Odell, visiting scientist at the Environmental Solutions Initiative, where he helps run the ESI Mining, Environment, and Society Program, and a visiting assistant professor at George Washington University. “Yet mining the materials needed for that transition would also cause social and environmental impacts. So we need to look for ways to reduce our demand for minerals, while also improving current mining practices to minimize social and environmental impacts.”

This past September 7 to 9, ESI hosted the inaugural MIT Conference on Mining, Environment, and Society to discuss how the clean energy transition may affect mining and the people and environments in mining areas. The conference convened representatives of mining companies, environmental and human rights groups, policymakers and social and natural scientists to identify key concerns and possible collaborative solutions.

“We can’t replace an abusive fossil fuel industry with an abusive mining industry that expands as we move through the energy transition,” said Jim Wormington, a senior researcher at Human Rights Watch, in a panel on the first day of the conference. “There’s a recognition from governments, civil society and companies that this transition potentially has a really significant human rights and social cost, both in terms of emissions […] but also for communities and workers who are on the front lines of mining.”

A keynote conversation from the second day of the conference. From top left: Prof. Deanna Kemp, University of Queensland Centre for Social Responsibility in Mining; Rohitesh Dhawan, President and CEO of the International Council on Mining and Metals; and Scott Odell of ESI

That focus on communities and workers was consistent throughout the three-day conference, as participants outlined the economic and social dimensions of standing up large numbers of new mines. Corporate mines can bring large influxes of government revenue and local investment, but the income is volatile and can leave policymakers and communities stranded when production declines or mineral prices fall. On the other hand, “artisanal” mining operations are an important source of critical minerals, but are hard to regulate and subject to abuses from brokers. And large reserves of minerals are found in conservation areas, regions with fragile ecosystems and experiencing water shortages that can be exacerbated by mining, in particular on Indigenous-controlled lands and other places where mine openings are deeply fraught. “One of the real triggers of conflict is a dissatisfaction with the current model of resource extraction,” said Dr. Jocelyn Fraser of the University of British Columbia in a panel discussion. “One that’s failed to support the long-term sustainable development of regions that host mining operations, and yet imposes significant local social and environmental impacts.”

All these challenges point toward solutions in policy and in mining companies’ relationships with the communities where they work. Participants highlighted newer models of mining governance that can create better incentives for the ways mines operate—from full community ownership of mines, to recognizing community rights to the benefits of mining, to end-of-life planning for mines at the time they open.

Many of the conference speakers also shared technological innovations that may help reduce mining challenges. Some operations are investing in desalination as alternative water sources in water-scarce regions; low-carbon alternatives are emerging to many of the fossil fuel-powered heavy machines that are mainstays of the industry; and work is being done to reclaim valuable minerals from mine tailings, helping to minimize both waste and the need to open new extraction sites.

Increasingly, the mining industry itself is recognizing that reforms will allow it to thrive in a rapid clean-energy transition. “Decarbonization is really a profitability imperative,” said Kareemah Mohammed, managing director for sustainability services at the technology consultancy Accenture, on the conference’s second day. “It’s about securing a low-cost and steady supply of either minerals or metals, but it’s also doing so in an optimal way.”

The three-day conference attracted over 350 attendees, from large mining companies, industry groups, consultancies, multilateral institutions, universities, NGOs, government, and more. It was held entirely virtually, a choice that helped make the conference not only truly international—participants joined from over 27 countries on six continents—but also accessible to members of nonprofits and professionals in the developing world.

“Many people are concerned about the environmental and social challenges of supplying the clean energy revolution, and we’d heard repeatedly that there wasn’t a forum for government, industry, academia, NGOs and communities to all sit at the same table and explore collaborative solutions,” says Christopher Noble, ESI’s Director of Corporate Engagement. “Convening, and researching best practices, are roles that universities can play. The conversations at this conference have generated valuable ideas and consensus to pursue three parallel programs: best-in-class models for community engagement, improving ESG metrics and their use, and civil-society contributions to government/industry relations. We are developing these programs to keep the momentum going.”

The MIT Conference on Mining, Environment, and Society was funded in part by Accenture, as part of the MIT/Accenture Convergence Initiative. Additional funding was provided by the Inter-American Development Bank. Questions about the conference and ESI’s Mining, Environment and Society Program can be directed to esi-mine@mit.edu.

 

Three questions on music and climate engagement with Supreetha Krishnan and Sara Wilson

The MIT Climate Machine, an ESI program to bring climate knowledge and engagement to arts experiences, has been busy this summer and fall creating interactive exhibits at music festivals across the United States and Europe. With our partners at Anjunabeats and the Involved Group, the Climate Machine has set up augmented reality posters to probe festival-goers’ level of concern about climate change and readiness to take new action.

We’ve also brought on two new team members, Supreetha Krishnan and Sara Wilson, to participate in design and research for the Climate Machine. To introduce Supreetha and Sara, we asked them three questions about music and climate engagement.

Why are music festivals promising places to reach people with climate knowledge?

Sara: The strong ties within music fanbases (that I’ve both witnessed through our research and experienced as a fan myself) are an incredible launch-point upon which climate engagement can develop. Our aim is to connect people within these communities to others who share similar interests in climate action, thereby building upon their preexisting bond as fans to evolve into climate communities.

Supreetha: Music festivals are spaces where a wide variety of people from different backgrounds come together to enjoy music; to listen to someone else. We believe there is a huge opportunity here to reach people with climate knowledge and we are trying to find creative ways of doing so. We want to understand what can drive this group of people to live more sustainably and to learn from them how music festivals can become more sustainable. For music festivals to survive and stay relevant, they will have to address their emissions and waste and the live entertainment industry is starting to realize its responsibility towards the planet. Can a shared interest in music and in artists unite all these people to change their habits? And as a result, can attendees demand climate conscious decision making from festival organizers?

Do you come to this work from a background in climate communication? Music? Both?

Supreetha: My involvement with this project is driven by the urgency of climate change and my love for attending live music events. I have a background in design: design of products, services, and installations. Climate action and sustainability have always been close to my heart and central to my work. I also grew up learning music, and I’m currently trying my hand at making music.

Sara: While my research experience is focused in climate communication, I believe my background in music (as a pianist, composer, and—most importantly—a fan) will be essential to this research. As climate education is the first step to building climate communities, the MIT Climate Machine is exploring artistic strategies to increase engagement with and retention of this information. This includes translating our data into music compositions, through which we aim to spur curiosity and discussion around climate action.

What have your first projects with the MIT Climate Machine taught you about effective climate engagement?

Supreetha: When dealing with a public audience, in our case music festival attendees, I feel it is important to provide information at different levels, using different media, whether it is augmented reality, music, film or a written piece. Different kinds of messaging can reach different people. With the Climate Machine, we are experimenting with different and yet interesting ways to engage people, visualize information and motivate them to engage with climate research.

Sara: Our first experiences have been inspiring, and I’m increasingly optimistic about the potential of climate engagement within fan communities as a consequence.  So many people care about the climate, but they don’t necessarily know what to do or how to start. With the Climate Machine, I believe we can begin developing methods to connect these communities with essential resources that will catalyze their engagement in climate action.

Afro-Interamerican Forum on Climate Change meets to set direction for its second year

October 26, 2022

The Environmental Solutions Initiative celebrated the first year of the Afro-Interamerican Forum on Climate Change (AIFCC) at the Colombian Embassy in Washington, DC, this October 12 with leaders from across the Americas.

Originally launched at COP26 (the 26th United Nations Conference of the Parties) last year in Glasgow, the AIFCC seeks to elevate the voices and contributions of Afro-descendant communities in climate mitigation and adaptation. Across the Americas, Afro-Descendant populations such as the Garifunas in Central America, Quilombos in Brazil, and Afro-Descendant populations in Colombia’s Pacific region are stewards of some of the most biodiverse and carbon-rich lands on the planet. However, they are largely invisible in global and international conversations on climate, and experience social and economic exclusion within their own countries.

Members of the Afro-Interamerican Forum on Climate Change at the Colombian Embassy in Washington, DC

Members of the Afro-Interamerican Forum on Climate Change at the Colombian Embassy in Washington, DC

The creation of the AIFCC was spearheaded by Luis Gilberto Murillo, former MIT ESI Fellow and current Colombian Ambassador to the United States. ESI continues to work to develop and grow the Forum, with efforts led by Marcela Angel, Research Program Director, and Angelica Mayolo, Fellow at ESI and former Minister of Culture for the Government of Colombia.

In the past year, AIFCC leaders have grown the effort to span multiple countries in Latin America, building a stakeholder base of Afro-descendant leaders to contribute to research and data collection, build awareness of the role of Afro-descendant communities in conserving some of the world’s largest natural bulwarks against climate change, and support community innovation.

This October’s gathering at the Colombian Embassy included forum founder Kelvin Alie, Senior Vice President at Conservation International; remarks from Sandra Vilardy, Colombian Vice Minister of Environment, and Phil Thompson, Professor at MIT’s Department of Urban Studies and Planning; as well as members of the AIFCC’s Coordinating Committee, a group of community leaders from Colombia, Panama, Honduras and Brazil. Within this committee are youth organizers, researchers, community advocates, and longtime champions for Afro-descendant communities.

Gathered around the table were longtime collaborators and newcomers alike. Julio Guity-Guevara presented the AIFCC’s plans for representation at COP27 in Egypt; Robert Asprilla discussed the Forum’s larger values; and Raisa Banfield, Heiny Palacios and Josefina Klinger shared work around environmental education, youth engagement and other community-based work in Panama and Colombia.

AIFCC leadership discusses the Forum's work and future direction

AIFCC leadership discusses the Forum’s work and future direction

The Forum also welcomed representatives from the Waverley Street Foundation, Rights and Resources, and the Center for American Progress, in addition to the Open Society Foundation, which has been a key supporter of the AIFCC’s work. Online and in the room, leaders discussed the confluence of environmental stewardship and economic democracy, and the need for data and research to tell the story of these communities’ stewardship to the world.

Most importantly, participants set out an agenda for the future of the Forum’s work—including the need to increase support for community-level pilot projects, participation at COP27, and the formation of hubs across the Americas to bolster local climate advocacy.

 

Learn Climate with Open MIT Resources

October 20, 2022
By Sylvia Scharf, ESI Climate Education Specialist; with input from Curt Newton, MIT OpenCourseWare Director, and Dana Doyle, MITx Program Director

Climate change spans all disciplines: science, engineering, economics, policy, humanities. It touches every part of human life. And it demands that we freely share and develop knowledge together to take it on.

That’s why ESI and our colleagues across MIT are building a collection of freely available, open resources to both learn and teach about climate change, from many angles and in many fields of knowledge:

  • Dipping your toes into new climate topics with engaging introductions from trusted sources;
  • Deepening your knowledge with resources for flexible, self-paced learning;
  • Building expertise with credential-granting complete courses.

As an introduction to climate change science and solutions, look no further than the MIT Climate Portal. There you will find well-researched Explainers understandable to a general audience, get caught up with our award-winning TILclimate podcast, explore the Climate Primer, and ask your own questions at Ask MIT Climate. All these resources are free to share and adapt under a broad Creative Commons license.

Are you an educator? It can be hard to find high-quality, ready-to-use climate resources, no matter what subject you teach. Explore our Educator Guides for classroom-ready high school activities across all topic areas. All the resources on the Climate Portal are also ready to be assigned to students. At the upper high school and college level, delve into the SCALES project for sustainability pedagogy and activities from MIT OpenCourseWare.

If you’re looking to dig even deeper, either to help your professional understanding or to support your own engagement as an active citizen and community member, MIT OpenCourseWare (OCW) shares materials from more than 150 climate-related MIT courses at all levels. You can learn at your own pace, working through a complete course or easily sampling topics among many courses. All OCW materials are free to download, reuse, and remix for educators or others who want to share their learning.

Want an in-depth MIT Course experience with the opportunity to earn a certificate?  MITx Massive Open Online Courses from across MIT are offered via MITx Online and edx.org.  These rigorous courses are designed, built and offered by MIT faculty. These are are offered asynchronously, online for free (exams and certificates usually require a small fee). There are new and newly-updated climate and energy-related courses available on a regular basis.

As part of International Open Access Week, we are highlighting multiple ways that interested people from all walks of life can learn about climate change from MIT. Join us Tuesday, October 25 at 10am to learn more about all these free, open modes of climate learning.

No matter where you are in your climate learning, MIT has open-access resources to help you learn about climate change, apply what you learn, and share your understanding with your community. Join us!

Get to know Marcela Angel, ESI’s Research Director for Natural Climate Solutions

To start, can you share a bit about the journey that got you to where you are today professionally?

I started working on environmental planning while doing my Master’s at the MIT Department of Urban Studies and Planning. My background is in architecture, and I began my planning career working at the intersection of green infrastructure and public spaces. I also became involved in a project that touched on climate risks, monitoring, and community-based adaptation, which expanded my work into environmental topics more generally. Our work in Colombia started with a deep engagement process, and allowed us to build both institutional relationships and a research agenda that became the starting point for multiple research projects leveraging technology development and community-based planning . Through working with local groups in two strategic ecosystems in Colombia – the Amazon and Chocó – we identified local priorities and opportunities for MIT to collaborate combining topics like climate change and risk management, deforestation reduction, sustainable development, and biodiversity management in urban areas, among others. This is the origin of the pipeline of projects that became the program that I manage, the Natural Climate Solutions (NCS) Program at the MIT Environmental Solutions Initiative (ESI).

Read the full interview at Kyanite Partners.

Letter from the Director: “A note on free and open expression,” October 2022

Hello friends of the ESI,

I have reserved my privilege to address you through this newsletter primarily, and often narrowly, on topics of the environment and sustainability. Today, I write on a subject that is central to our work here at the ESI, but also extends well beyond our mandate.

The free expression of ideas is why I became a professor. I welcome controversial perspectives and uncomfortable discourse. I welcome disagreement and challenge. Free and open expression is essential to learning and therefore to the academy. I applaud the current effort to articulate and adopt a set of principles for free expression. Thank you to all at MIT who are engaged in this effort and I look forward to recommitting to this essential element of academic life.

In this spirit, I offer the words of two wise people.

In a 1959 interview Bertrand Russell was asked about his advice to future generations and said, “love is wise, hatred is foolish. In this world, which is getting more and more closely interconnected, we have to learn to tolerate each other, we have to learn to put up with the fact that some people say things that we don’t like. We can only live together in that way—and if we are to live together and not die together—we must learn a kind of charity and a kind of tolerance, which is absolutely vital to the continuation of human life on this planet.”

And in a 1963 profile of James Baldwin in Life Magazine, he was quoted as saying, “You think your pain and your heartbreak are unprecedented in the history of the world, but then you read. It was books that taught me that the things that tormented me most were the very things that connected me with all the people who were alive, who had ever been alive.”

All of us are gathered at MIT to learn more about the world through books, experiments, engineering analyses, design proposals and so much more. Learning is a beautiful and sometimes difficult, and occasionally deeply uncomfortable experience that can connect us with all who are alive, who have ever been alive and—for the sake of a sustainable, equitable and biodiverse future—all who will be alive.

 

John E. Fernandez, Director
October 7, 2022

Three questions on teaching environmental justice with Chris Rabe

ESI has a new team member: Chris Rabe, who is being brought on as a Postdoctoral Associate in Environmental and Sustainability Education. Chris is a longtime teacher with a doctorate in higher education, who will help us administer and refine our expanding programs in the MIT undergraduate curriculum—beginning with our new grants for faculty to infuse sustainability teaching into their classes, and more rigorous study of how students receive this learning.

To introduce Chris, we asked him three questions about teaching climate and sustainability at the college level.

What draws you to education as a lever for supporting climate and environmental solutions?

I have been an educator for my entire career.  For most of my career, I have taught English as a second language, and composition to immigrants and international students.  However, around 2010, I became personally interested in environmental issues, especially in relation to sustainable agriculture and food justice.  During the courses I taught, I began integrating environmental content and realized that it was resonating with my students. I believe sustainability, environmental, and climate justice content is culturally relevant among students from different racial, linguistic, and cultural backgrounds, as it speaks to many different experiences around the world that deal with the intersections of environment and social justice.  I see this kind of education as a tool to find common ground across geographic and cultural borders and share our own unique experiences.  We need everyone from around the world engaged in the climate crisis to find realistic and context dependent solutions.

What kinds of content or approaches have you found to be effective for teachers creating environmental justice classes at the college level?

In my dissertation research, which sought to understand environmental justice instruction at the undergraduate level, the main finding was that all faculty participants espoused and implemented community engaged instruction in their courses. Different methods for community engaged teaching included: the invitation of guest speakers, site visits/collaborative projects with community organizations, and even participation in activist events. Students would often have to present, write essays, or develop useful material for local organizations as course deliverables.

When observing classes with community engaged instructional approaches, there was a noticeable increase in student engagement, and faculty were able to show clear examples of how student projects created impactful social change outside of the classroom.  This kind of instructional methodology allows for students to meaningfully experience how their learning can impact real world change through participation with local, or global community members.

What aspects of the student experience of environmental justice and sustainability lessons do you think it’s important to learn more about as you undertake your work at ESI?

Although I learned a lot about faculty instructional practices in environmental justice courses during my dissertation work, there is still very little work on student learning in relation to environmental and climate justice, and not much is known about student learning in activist and community engaged contexts.  Related to this, I am interested in understanding much more about how students develop climate justice literacy during coursework, the experience of climate activist student groups on campuses, and learning more about climate justice curriculum and teaching resources in general. I am also interested in learning about how faculty across disciplines can incorporate sustainability or climate justice instructional practices into their courses.

 

Artificial intelligence for urban biodiversity mapping

by Aaron Krol | September 16, 2022

The MIT Environmental Solutions Initiative has received a seed grant from the MIT Climate and Sustainability Consortium (MCSC) for the ECO-LENS project, a framework using artificial intelligence (AI) to produce accurate maps of urban biodiversity.

Biodiversity is declining worldwide, driven by the intensification in land management and the transformation of natural areas for agriculture, industrial-scale forestry, and human settlements. Yet data on the variety and abundance of species in urban areas is often limited. Biodiversity in and around cities is typically measured through occasional surveys by human observers, a time-consuming and error-prone process especially when trying to map biodiversity at scale and in areas of rapid change.

With ECO-LENS, ESI plans to develop a system that can quickly and automatically interpret biodiversity data from satellite imaging and unmanned aerial vehicles, at scales ranging from the overall vegetation coverage in and around a city, to maps of the urban tree canopy, down to identification of individual tree species. The intent is to develop a rich picture of cities’ trees in closer to real time, at a fraction of the cost of human surveys, to inform urban and peri-urban forestry efforts to enhance species conservation and benefits to residents.

Members of ESI and MIT students visit the La Esmeralda neighborhood of Quidbó, Colombia, for a previous urban biodiversity project. Photo: Yujie Wang

ECO-LENS will begin in two Colombian cities with which ESI has already developed close relationships: Quidbó, in the Chocó region and the Tumbes-Chocó-Magdalena biodiversity hotspot, and Leticia, within the interior Amazon forest. Both cities are located inside highly biodiverse and carbon-rich tropical forests, where biodiversity conservation is of high importance to both the local economies and the course of global climate change. Alongside developing the AI systems to interpret data from these regions, ECO-LENS will focus on deep engagement with stakeholders within these cities, including municipal governments and community groups, to ensure the resulting data is put to use in locally meaningful ways.

“Acquiring this biodiversity data is very exciting from a scientific perspective, particularly for cities in the Global South that often lack detailed inventories of their green infrastructure, but it is only meaningful if we are thoughtful about how to turn it into action,” says Marcela Angel, one of the co-PIs of the project. “What we really want to do is strengthen participation of local stakeholders and citizen science, so that urban planning and biodiversity conservation reflects local needs informed by advanced computational tools.”

ECO-LENS has hired a graduate student, Enrique Montas of the Department of Electrical Engineering and Computer Science, to implement the first phase of the project by developing a machine learning pipeline for interpreting data on urban vegetation from satellite imagery. With this large-scale picture in hand, fieldwork in Quidbó and Leticia is anticipated to begin in spring 2023.

“We’re proud to be one of the first recipients of an MCSC seed grant for this project,” says co-PI Norhan Bayomi. “ECO-LENS reflects our shared goal of preserving the world’s vital carbon sinks, and it also reflects an ethos we share with the MCSC—that state-of-the-art technologies can empower local communities to protect the climate and the natural environment, and not be exclusive to wealthy institutions like MIT.”

Three questions on climate justice with Briana Meier

This September, ESI welcomed a new post-doctoral associate, Briana Meier, to explore partnerships under the umbrella of climate justice, where ESI’s expertise can make significant contributions to efforts of marginalized communities to adapt to and help mitigate the impacts of climate change. She is currently partnering with the Indigenous-led nonprofit organization Se’Si’Le on an initiative to build place-based, cross-cultural solidarity across urban spaces and Indigenous territories.

Briana’s background is in urban and regional planning and social science, and in her doctoral dissertation and work with Landscape for Humanity, she has focused on “temporary urbanisms,” the informal and transient ways that communities build connections in public spaces, especially after natural and human-made disasters. To introduce her, we asked her three questions on the concept of environmental and climate justice.

How does a focus on justice help effectively address environmental problems?

Environmental problems are inherently about the distribution of benefits, burdens, and decision-making power among humans — and between humans and the nonhuman world. A justice lens brings greater specificity and nuance to our analyses, and reminds us that all research and researchers are situated within particular contexts and conditions. This orientation recognizes that environmental problems are collective problems which require systems of accountability to the nonhuman world as well as shared participation among divergent human groups. While justice is often conceived as a matter of rights and equity, a focus on justice can also entail a celebration of our fundamental interconnectedness. Justice, then, can be a joyful and respectful approach to addressing difficult circumstances.

What’s the biggest lesson you too from your research on temporary urbanisms?

My dissertation research examined the potential for participatory, informal, temporary urban interventions to instigate communities of solidarity across cultural and political difference, particularly in situations of disaster and disruption. This work demonstrated to me that it is possible to live well together across divergent and even conflicting worldviews. People do it all the time out of necessity and by choice. Disaster and disruption bring great suffering, and these situations also open pathways for new ways of living. Seemingly simple collective activities of music, art, ceremony, preparing food, and gathering together in public spaces can instigate lasting and resilient communities. One of the biggest insights from this research has been how building shared connections to everyday places can support community building among diverse groups.

What’s one thing to keep in mind when exploring new partnerships with a climate justice angle?

In my work, I try to remember and celebrate that justice means very different things to various communities and cultures. Climate justice means more than making sure that burdens and benefits are distributed fairly and that harms are addressed. For me, good partnerships for work on climate justice require recognizing that we live in a world of many worlds (as discussed by Arturo Escobar, Maria de la Cadena, and many others). For instance, what are natural resources for some are homes and relatives to others. Climate justice involves respecting, recognizing, and protecting the many worlds in our world rather than trying to reduce these many worlds to a singular one. The diversity of life on Earth includes irreconcilable realities. These are circumstances to celebrate and strengths to build on.

Biodiversity and Cities Summer Fellows

Jimena Muzio, MCP ’23, and Daniela Castillo, MCP ’23, will join the ESI as Biodiversity and Cities Summer Fellows. The fellowship builds on the work developed for the client-based course 4.S23 Biodiversity and Cities: A Perspective in Colombian Cities, which aimed to identify strategies that help the city of Quibdó to incorporate biodiversity restoration and enhancement, climate change mitigation and adaptation, and socioeconomic development into their planning processes as the city continues to urbanize in the heart of the Pacific tropical forest. 

Jimena and Daniela will return to Quibdó to implement an engagement plan designed to discuss the local priorities, solicit feedback on the class work, and prioritize a series of solutions for city-led biodiversity management strategies at the urban, peri-urban, and non-urban levels. Additionally, the students will work with the Ministry of Environment and Sustainable Development of Colombia and assess the replicability of lessons learned in Quibdó for other cities within the BiodiverCities by 2030 framework.

Jimena has a BA and MA in Economics. Her work focuses on integrating informal settlements into the urban fabric in socially and spatially equitable ways. More recently, she has been exploring the link between Bioeconomy and urban planning to promote and increase support for biodiversity conservation through the development of bioeconomic strategies. “The city of Quibdó offers a unique opportunity because it is located in a biodiversity hotspot and urban policies and regulations have the potential to impact a highly valuable ecosystem. I will be conducting research at the intersection of biodiversity conservation and carbon markets in Colombia to inform my master’s thesis at DUSP” said Jimena.

Daniela has a B.S. in Environmental Sciences. Her previous research focused on the health impacts of particulate matter pollution in cities. She is interested in how different urban environmental aspects, such as air pollution, noise pollution, heat and green space, can impact health, as well as in the multiple co-benefits of climate change mitigation actions in urban settings. Through the Biodiversity and Cities class and fellowship, Daniela has started to inquire how the co-benefits can also positively impact biodiversity, particularly in a mega-diverse country like Colombia. With a focus on participatory science as an approach to co-create knowledge between communities and researchers, Daniela aims to strengthen data collection and monitoring practices, as well as to promote environmental education and community engagement in Colombian cities.