Change-Maker Interview: Lynn Wilson & UNCC

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MethodSpace is following and sharing news from the UN Bonn Climate Conference, now underway. We are particularly focused on the opportunities and implications for researchers and educators– and our students. To that end, we are interested in the upcoming launch of the Universities Network for Climate Capacity (UNCC). This series of posts includes background information as well as live feeds from the conference.

Dr. Lynn Wilson is a member of the UNCC launch and steering committees. She is the founder and CEO of SeaTrust Institute, and on the Walden University faculty.

Lynn recorded a video for SAGE, “Transformational Leadership in Sustainability: Challenges and Opportunities with the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).”

I interviewed Lynn for MethodSpace, to learn more about UNCC and her experiences.

JS: How did you go from an interest in ocean policy with a focus on the Northwest to involvement on the global stage with the UN?

LW: Oceans and climate are intimately connected; oceans drive the climate system so the link was natural.. Taking it to the policy arena allowed for working with my key areas the time which were the issues with communication, understanding and collaboration between global and local environmental scientists and  policymakers

JS: You founded the non-profit SeaTrust Institute 15 years ago. How did you become a recognized part of the UN– along side large NGOs and research institutions?

LW: We were credentialed as an official UN observer organization in 2008 and networked with those working with health as a key element of decisions about climate change. I started and ran a research consortium on health and climate change for several years which allowed for developing relationships among a number of key players in both systems and beyond.
SeaTrust developed alongside the UN efforts which eventually produced the Sustainable Development Goals and the Paris Agreement. We have grown in our research and educational contributions to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change and affiliated processes. I now sit on a number of committees and panels , working with those across issues that affect both the negotiations and the implementation on the ground.

JS: You are on the committees to steer and launch the UNCC. What do you see as potential roles for universities? Do you anticipate opportunities for individuals, independent researchers without academic affiliations or those affiliated with institutions not involved in UNCC? 
LW: Membership is being decided as part of the UNCC launch, but the idea is to include universities and any sort of viable research institute with a legitimate interest and possible contribution. Individuals likely would need to affiliate through a group.

JS: What do you personally hope to achieve at the Bonn meetings?
LW: To participate in the ongoing capacity building effort through education and research, helping to influence the dialogue for fairness and greater equity through empowerment by building the actual capacity of people on the ground, not just capacity for the negotiators. (Although we want to contribute to that too!)

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