Current Yale F&ES Students with Dean Tony La Viña of the Ateneo School of Government and F&ES Professor Ben Cashore.

TGIF @ #COP19

Amidst all the madness at this year’s climate negotiations, the friendly faces of Yale delegates and F&ES alumni in the hallways of the Warsaw National Stadium are a welcome relief.  As tradition dictates, we held a TGIF (Thank God I’m a Forester) reception last Saturday to bring together Yalies and friends of Yale to share stories over drinks.

Speaking as a key note at the Yale TGIF reception, Tony La Viña (LL.M. ’92, J.S.D. ’95), dean of the Ateneo School of Government in Manila, reminisced about his time at Yale and his pathway through the climate change negotiations. La Viña has attended 15 out of 19 UNFCCC Conference of the Parties. And, the four years he took a break was during the middle of the Bush Administration, when he did a stint at the World Resources Institute.

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Current Yale F&ES students at COP19.

When La Viña began exploring his dissertation at Yale in the early 1990s, his advisor told him to select something “esoteric.” After some digging, he came across global warming – a topic with five pages of bibliographic sources (mostly climate science) and seemingly unrelated to his home country, the Philippines. After receiving his Ph.D. and LLM from Yale, La Viña became a major figure in climate change policy, serving as a member of the Philippines delegation, chairing the LULUCF project and helping to establish REDD+ safeguards.

La Viña brought some much needed academic reflections and personal observation to the negotiations, especially with the recovery efforts underway in the Philippines. To stay updated on ongoing relief efforts and debates around Typhoon Haiyan, follow La Viña on Facebook or Twitter: @tonylavs. He also contributes to the Eagle Eyes column in the Manila Standard.

In addition to La Viña’s talk, the Governance, Environment and Markets (GEM) Initiative at Yale launched two new publications: Issues and Options papers on forest policy in partnership with the International Union of Forestry Researchers (IUFRO) and the “Economic, Social, and Cultural Rights: A Manual for Climate Policy-Makers” with the Center on International Sustainable Development Law (CISDL).

The reception featured an impressive lineup of F&ES alumni including Kunal Sharma (M.E.S. ’00, M.A. ’00) from Shakti Sustainable Energy Foundation, Kelly Levin (B.A. ’02, M.E.M. ’03, M.Phil. ’07, Ph.D. ’09) from the World Resources Institute, Dustin Schinn (M.E.M. ’13) from the Green Climate Fund… the list goes on. The number of Yalies involved in the climate change negotiation process — as country delegates, researchers and non-governmental representatives — is impressive.

The night was capped off with an F&ES swag giveaway courtesy of the F&ES Alumni Office and packaging up of leftovers for late night snacking, #NoWaste #LeaveNoTrace.

A huge thank you to the generous sponsors of this year’s TGIF @ #COP19 including the Dean’s Office at the Yale School of Forestry & Environmental Studies, the F&ES Alumni Office, and the Governance, Environment and Markets Initiative at Yale, led by F&ES Professor Ben Cashore.