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Three Cairns Climate Program for the Global South

The Three Cairns Climate Program for the Global South is an ambitious new initiative at the Yale School of the Environment aimed at supporting next generation leaders.

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    Established with a historic gift from the Three Cairns Group, the program expands access to advanced education and training for qualified students and professionals committed to working to address climate change. The cornerstone of the newly launched Three Cairns Climate Program for the Global South is Three Cairns Scholars, which is focused on Global South students who are committed to combatting climate change in their home countries and region. As Scholars, students will receive tuition and non-tuition support designed to help them succeed in YSE’s master’s degree programs and when they return home to work on climate solutions. Three Cairns Scholars will begin accepting applications on September 15, 2022, for admission to the 2023-24 academic year.

    Three Cairns Fellows, another scholarship opportunity provided through the Three Cairns Climate Program for the Global South, supports mid-career environmental professionals seeking to enroll in one of YSE’s online certificate programs — Financing and Deploying Clean Energy, offered by the Center for Business and Environment at Yale (CBEY), or Tropical Forest Landscapes: Conservation, Restoration and Sustainable Use, run by the Environmental Leadership & Training Initiative (ELTI). This year, both of these high-impact certificate programs will launch their fourth cohorts with inaugural Three Cairns Fellows.

    Please check back for news and updates about the Three Cairns Climate Program for the Global South at YSE as we begin our first year! We look forward to keeping you informed about the evolution of this transformational program and to introducing you to the first Three Cairns Scholars and Fellows, as well as some of the people who are working hard to make the program a success.

    Three Cairns Scholars

    For YSE Master's Degrees

    Three Cairns Scholars enables YSE to meet 100% of the demonstrated tuition need for qualified students from the Global South admitted as master’s degree students to one of its regular degree programs. As Three Cairns Scholars, students also will have access to non-tuition resources, such as funding to support summer internships in their home countries, mentoring partnerships with YSE alumni, and career development opportunities and counseling that are designed to help ensure their success while at Yale and when they return to their home countries and regions. Three Cairns Scholars is not an independent course of study, but an enhanced scholarship opportunity designed to support the next generation of climate leaders in the Global South.

    Three Cairns Fellows

    For YSE Online Certificate Programs

    Three Cairns Fellows allows YSE to expand access to two of its highly rated online certificate programs for mid-career environmental professionals — Financing and Deploying Clean Energy and Tropical Forest Landscapes: Conservation, Restoration and Sustainable Use. Respectively, these year-long certificates develop capacity for leapfrogging transitions to renewable energy and for managing the areas of highest potential for natural carbon sequestration: tropical forests. Individuals seeking scholarship support as Fellows must apply directly to the Financing and Deploying Cleaning Energy or Tropical Forest Landscape certificate programs.

    Leading on Climate Change: Global South Alumni

    Meet some YSE alumni from the Global South who are making an outsized impact. Through Three Cairns Scholars, YSE will be able to expand its global network of alumni with the knowledge, training, and agility to address the climate crisis and lead on solutions.

    Lia Nicholson

    Speaking for the Islands

    At the end of 2021, Lia Nicholson ’14 MEM traveled to Glasgow, Scotland, on a mission with existential stakes. As the lead negotiator for the Alliance of Small Island States at the U.N.’s annual climate change conference, COP26, Nicholson represented the bloc of 39 small island nations, which together comprise 20% of all U.N. member states. While the numbers alone can seem abstract, the difference between a global temperature rise of 1.5° Celsius over the preindustrial baseline and a rise of 2° is “existential” for the vulnerable AOSIS nations that were among the first to have to reckon with the impacts of climate change nearly 30 years ago, she says.

    Caroline Tasirin at Y20 Indonesia

    Empowering Young Leaders

    In July, Indonesia hosted the Y20 Summit, an annual gathering of youth leaders from G20 nations. This year's summit emphasized a sustainable and livable planet, and its recommendations will be presented at the upcoming G20 Summit in November. Caroline Tasirin ’19 MFS — a lecturer in the forestry program at Indonesia’s Sam Ratulangi University and co-founder of SULUT Semangat, a program that empowers Indonesian youths to connect with nature — represented the host nation and served as co-chair of the selection committee for Indonesia. “I'm proud to have contributed my insight and honored to collaborate with diverse youth leaders,” she says. 

    Hugh Brown under a canopy of bamboo

    Rehabilitating Ghana’s Forests

    After a decade as director of operations for Ghana’s Forestry Commission, overseeing the country’s commercial forest plantation development and land restoration, Hugh Brown ’10 MF was named executive director of the Commission's Forest Services Division in 2022.

    The Commission has begun the restoration of more than 450,000 hectares of degraded forests and planted millions of new trees under Brown's leadership — part of a major reforestation initiative by the Ghanaian government to contribute to global climate action.

    Rita Effah

    Financing Community-led Climate Action in Africa

    As a YSE student, Rita Effah ’12 MFS participated in COP 17 in Durban, South Africa. She says her experience at the annual U.N. climate change conference was the catalyst that sparked her interest in working to mitigate climate change impacts in Africa.

    Now a senior climate finance officer at the African Development Bank, Effah is managing the Africa Climate Change Fund, which implements small grant projects in 28 African countries.

    Dechen Dorji in the high mountains

    Keeping Bhutan Carbon Neutral

    To make good on its constitutional mandate to be the first carbon neutral country for its entire existence, Bhutan relies heavily on its forest cover. Dechen Dorji ’01 MEM led the Bhutan for Life initiative, which raised more than $40 million to finance the protection of the country’s pristine network of protected areas.

    Dorji continues to work on land preservation and protection of endangered species as the World Wildlife Fund’s senior director for the Asian Wildlife Program.

    Ki’ila Salas

    Restoring Belize’s Landscapes

    Ki’ila Salas ’19 MF returned to her home country of Belize to participate in its first landscape restoration initiative, helping to develop its National Landscape Restoration Strategy for the Belize Forest Department. The project is part of the country’s national restoration commitment to the Bonn Challenge, which has a global goal to bring 350 million hectares of degraded and deforested landscapes into restoration by 2030.

    “The project gave me great pride and joy in guiding the process of how the restoration strategies should be accomplished,” Salas says.

    My YSE education was a perfect primer for working in a small island, where you have to be a jack of all trades. I relied on everything from GIS (geographical information systems) to policy synthesis training, mock climate negotiations, and green finance coursework.”

    Lia Nicholson'14 MEM

    Knowledge into Action: Certificate Program Participants

    Beginning this year, Three Cairns Fellows will provide scholarship support to qualifying participants in two of YSE’s highly rated online certificate programs — Financing and Deploying Clean Energy and Tropical Forest Landscapes: Conservation, Restoration & Sustainable Use. Meet some past certificate program participants and find out how they put what they learned into practice — sometimes that same day.

    “I had been looking for years for a program like this, to progress professionally and broaden my skills and knowledge.... But ultimately, the biggest benefit of this program will be to Madagascar, where building our capacity to handle environmental challenges is a national priority and must be strengthened.”

    Herintsitohaina Razakamanarivo — 2020 Tropical Forest Landscapes participant

    “My background is in energy and transportation policy, and I liked how this program drew connections from policy to technology, finance and innovation. (It) helped me make the jump from government policy to utility strategy at a key inflection point for utilities.”

    Giselle De Grandis — 2020 Financing and Deploying Clean Energy participant

    Contact Master’s Admissions

    Introduce yourself to the YSE master’s admissions team.


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