Oceans Angels: F&ES Course Work that Matters

Oceans Angels:
F&ES Course Work that Matters

Growing up, I thought that Charlie’s Angels were the epitome of hard-core. I never would have guessed that I would be on a team very much like my childhood heroines — minus the kung fu and tight leather getup! Meet Yale’s Oceans Sustainable Development Goal (SDG) Alliance, fighting the good fight with nothing but passion and good research.

Connie Vogelmann is a fourth-year joint J.D. and M.E.M. student with the Yale Law School and Yale School of Forestry & Environmental Studies (F&ES). She has a background in biology and an interest in conservation biology and environmental law.

Maria Rojas is a second-year masters student in the Yale Jackson Institute for Global Affairs. She has a concentration on China and research experience with environmental policy in the international realm.

I am Mariah Gill, a second-year masters student at F&ES with an emphasis on water resource management in island systems and research experience with marine biology and protected areas.

Our trio of brilliant young women is working with the support of teaching fellows Rob Fetter and Lia Nicholson and Professor Gordon Geballe through the International Organizations and Conferences course at F&ES, to assist Stuart Beck, Palau ambassador of the Oceans and Seas, in his quest to get an oceans-focused Sustainable Development Goal (SDG) onto the UN’s international agenda by 2015.

The team will also report to Palau President Tommy E. Remengesau, Jr. and Umiich Senebau, Palau’s minister of natural resources, both of whom will host the team in Palau early next year.

2015 is a critical year because it marks the expiration of the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs), a UN-created mechanism that is largely credited with setting the tone of international aid priorities as well as national agendas for the first part of the 21st century. What were the results of the MDGs? A huge reduction in poverty, AIDS, child mortality, and hunger, improvements in education, and essentially the improvement of hundreds of millions of lives worldwide. In 2015 the UN will be looking for new Development Goals to set the tone for the next twenty years or so, and the theme is “sustainability.” SDGs will address economic, social and environmental issues and will beg the attention of 193 sovereigns.

What does this mean for Yale’s Oceans SDG Alliance? Well, like Hollywood’s Angels, our boss, Ambassador Beck (not Charlie), tasked us at our first briefing early this September in New York City to back up the proposed Oceans SDG with research. We are to look into target success indicators and relatedness to the three stems of sustainable development: economic, social/cultural and environmental. The proposed oceans goal is to achieve healthy, productive, and resilient oceans and seas with a target to ensure that all fish stocks are being fished sustainably and to ensure a healthy marine environment.  We are to write a research paper and then morph this paper into an advocacy based “White Paper” to be presented to the UN General Assembly in February 2014. The overall objective for our team, therefore, is to convince 193 countries that our common future, even that of landlocked countries, depends on the health of the oceans.

Good luck, angels…