Monthly Archives: February 2015

Daniel Bornstein ’14, Lombard Fellow in Geneva, Switzerland

Daniel Borstein pic

I am undertaking my Lombard Fellowship at the Secretariat of the United Nations initiative on Reducing Emissions from Deforestation and Forest Degradation (REDD), based in Geneva, Switzerland. REDD encourages developing countries to preserve their forests in order to store carbon, considered crucial to offset climate change. The goal is for partner countries to eventually receive payments for reducing forest loss, which in turn indicates that they have prevented carbon emissions. To be eligible for such payments, countries must develop capacity in a variety of areas, including monitoring forest cover change and respecting the rights of local communities. The function of the UN REDD program is to support governments in their efforts to curb deforestation, especially to invest in the upfront costs of this endeavor.

My function at the Secretariat relates to the social equity dimensions of REDD. In my academic work at Dartmouth, I came to understand that seemingly benign environmental projects in the developing world often ended up only exacerbating the poverty of farming communities. Paradoxically, despite being couched in the language of “sustainable development,” they may undermine local people’s conceptions of rights to land and food. A question that has guided my work at REDD thus far, then, has been: Is it possible for a global environmental program, whose primary interest is in maximizing the carbon stored in the world’s forests, to equip rural people with the autonomy to decide how land should be managed for their agricultural needs and other economic gains?

In this regard, I have been conducting an analysis of REDD funding disbursed to countries for the purpose of “Stakeholder Engagement.” This category is meant to ensure that forestry programs are inclusive of all the actors relevant to forests. It revolves around the idea that decisions shouldn’t be made simply by a minister in the capital city, but must be rooted in the participation of the people living in forested regions.

My review is timely for two reasons. First, the REDD program is re-evaluating the funding mechanism, called “targeted support,” that offers stakeholder engagement grants to countries. For example, questions have arisen over how to generate more country ownership over the process, and how to ensure that such grants are part of a coherent national REDD strategy. Second, as an outcome of the UN REDD biannual Policy Board meeting in November, the Secretariat encourages greater involvement by local NGOs and indigenous peoples in requests for funding. Under the current targeted support structure, the proposals are typically drawn up solely by a government ministry, without attention to the priorities of forest communities.

I am particularly excited to follow the trajectory of this Policy Board decision. It offers a real opportunity for farmers across the developing world to articulate their priorities. Beyond increasing their engagement in policy processes with their own governments, it may generate new thinking among aid agencies and large environmental NGOs about the value of including perspectives of local people within a global climate change program.

In the spring, I will get the chance to explore first-hand this nexus between agriculture and carbon forestry. I will travel to Ethiopia to conduct research on a World Bank-funded REDD project that has proposed new agricultural practices as a strategy to reduce deforestation. How exactly does smallholder food production become framed as a “driver” of forest loss? How are these producers induced to depart from their current practices? These are the questions that will lead me toward a more complete picture of whether carbon forestry objectives can be responsive to the priorities of surrounding communities.

Advertisements
Categories: Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Lauren Kwan ’14, Lombard Fellow in San Francisco

ladies_night

Last July, I started my Lombard Fellowship at Women’s Community Clinic in San Francisco, California, a women’s health and primary care clinic for underinsured and low-income women of the Bay Area. The Women’s Community Clinic’s mission is based on the principles of harm reduction, cultural inclusion, and client-centeredness, and I’ve had the opportunity to learn more about these principles and apply them in my various roles at the Clinic.

As a Lombard Fellow, I’m officially a member of the Clinic’s Workforce and Outreach Department. This department runs a program — the Western Addition Health Training Program (WAHT) — that combines education, mentorship, and leadership training to equip the women and girls of the Western Addition to directly address health inequities in their own communities. WAHT fellows, who are in the final stage of the WAHT program, facilitate health education workshops around San Francisco. As a Workforce and Outreach staff member, I am currently creating the curriculum that forms the foundation for these workshops. My goal is to create inclusive and informative workshops that empower community women and girls to both be well and help each other be well.

I also participate in our department’s Outreach program, which provides food, and safer sex and harm reduction supplies, such as condoms, hygiene kits, and safer drug use kits, to the homeless women of the Mission District in San Francisco. On Thursday nights, the Clinic partners with other amazing organizations in San Francisco to host “Ladies Night.” At Ladies Night, homeless women build a sense of community through fun activities, such as karaoke or bingo, get a hot meal, and have a safe space to have conversations with local service agencies about safer drug use and sexual activity, health, and well-being. The nights I get to help out at Ladies Night are inspiring, as I get to see and experience the supportive, joyful, and loving environment these women have created for each other.

charts

The other half of my week is spent on the clinical side. As a volunteer-based organization, the Clinic relies on around forty “Client Services Coordinator” volunteers to facilitate client registration, check-in, and scheduling. Roughly thirty “Health Educator” volunteers serve in a role similar to a medical assistant: they room clients, take their vitals, and have client-centered, nonjudgmental conversations about the reason for their visit, birth control, and sexually transmitted infections. After a couple months of intense training, I now work as a “back shift coordinator” managing the Health Educator volunteers, ensuring the smooth operation of the Clinic, and occasionally serving as a Health Educator myself. This role has been invaluable in learning how to communicate concisely and empathetically with clients and a team of volunteers. I am also very excited to be training to become a Certified Enrollment Counselor (CEC) for Medi-Cal, California’s Medicaid. As a CEC, I’ll be able to educate and help our uninsured clients and community members get access to the healthcare they need.

I can’t say enough positive things about my experience as a Lombard Fellow at the Women’s Community Clinic. Dartmouth and the Clinic’s staff and volunteers have given me—and continue to give me—so much by helping develop the deep knowledge, skills, and principles that will be integral to my ultimate plan of becoming a physician with an eye towards compassionate and educational community health.

Categories: Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Blog at WordPress.com.