Global Justice Fellowship Program Highlights Work of F&ES Students

Note: Yale School of the Environment (YSE) was formerly known as the Yale School of Forestry & Environmental Studies (F&ES). News articles and events posted prior to July 1, 2020 refer to the School's name at that time.

Three students from the Yale School of Forestry & Environmental Studies (F&ES) — Ruth Metzel ’16 M.E.M./M.B.A., Hassaan Sipra ’16 M.E.M., and Sarah Tolbert ’16 M.E.M./I.R. — have received 2016-17 Gruber Fellowships in Global Justice and Women’s Rights for their work on projects in vulnerable parts of the world.
The Yale program, which is administered by Yale Law School, helps foster international understanding and dialogue in the fields of global justice and women’s rights. The fellowships enable recent graduates of Yale graduate and professional schools to spend a year working abroad on these challenges. 
It is the first time that the majority of the Gruber Fellowship recipients are from F&ES. 
2016 gruber fellows fes Ruth Metzel, left, Hassaan Sipra, and Sarah Tolbert
During her Fellowship, Ruth Metzel will work with the Azuero Earth Project in Panama, which connects smallholder farmers and landowners to the global climate finance landscape. The Azuero peninsula is one of the most drought-prone regions of Central America. But while its farmers are becoming increasingly interested in reforestation, national and international finance landscapes are difficult to navigate.
Metzel will develop a strategy advocating for the rights of smallholder farmers at the international level, enhancing understanding of current climate and reforestation finance policies and creating a vehicle through which these farmers can be part of this landscape and secure funding to help them mitigate and adapt to climate change.
Hassaan Sipra will work with the Lahore Waste Management Company (LWMC) in Pakistan to formalize the city’s informal waste pickers sector and streamline the waste management processes of the city through the development of a cooperative model. The project was inspired by successful cooperative models already established in other developing cities, including Curitiba, Brazil and Pune, India, Sipra says. With the government of Punjab giving the LWMC a mandate to expand their operations to six other major cities in the province, lessons learned in Lahore may be applied to that expansion process.
A well-structured cooperative model that involves all relevant stakeholders will raise the living standards of Lahore’s informal waste pickers while also increasing LWMC’s operational efficiency, Sipra says. He will work closely with LWMC, the city district government in Lahore, the United Nations Development Program, the Sustainable Development Policy Institute, universities, and other relevant stakeholders to implement engagement mechanisms for the informal waste pickers of Lahore.
Sarah Tolbert will return to the eastern Democratic Republic of Congo where she conducted research last summer as a Fellow with the F&ES-based Forests Dialogue. During her one-year Gruber Fellowship she will work with Strong Roots, a Congolese organization, on a pilot project to help indigenous communities apply for land tenure for their community forests. The work will involve collecting baseline data on the current state of the community forest alongside socio-economic data in order to set up conservation committees.
Strong Roots plans to apply the lessons learned from this pilot project to a broader landscape to help expand the land area under conservation while protecting indigenous rights. “It is a great and unique opportunity to help build a project from the ground up, a project that has the potential to redefine how conservation work is done not only in the DRC, but across the continent,” she said. “I am extremely grateful to Gruber Foundation for giving me this remarkable opportunity.”
The other 2016-17 Gruber Fellows are M. Mohsin Alam Bhat ’16 LAW, who will work to tackle religious and caste discrimination in urban housing in India, and Conchita Cruz ’16 LAW, the co-founder and future project director of the Asylum Seeker Advocacy Project (ASAP) at the Urban Justice Center, a new project to help Central American refugee families while in detention and upon release to win their asylum cases and stay in the U.S.
Since it was introduced in 2011, Gruber Fellows have worked on projects all over the planet, including Zimbabwe, China, Antigua and Barbuda, Myanmar, and the UK.