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Climate Change & SIDS: Navigating Resilience in Place in an Age of Retreat

April 19, 2018 @ 6:30 pm - 8:30 pm

Small Island Developing States (SIDS) are a group of countries that face unique sustainable development challenges; one such challenge is their vulnerability to climate change and susceptibility to natural disasters.Currently SIDS are facing loss of land in low-lying coastal areas, as well as loss of ecosystem services and livelihoods.

With the devastating effects of climate change, intertwined with other trends such as population growth and globalization, the question thus lies – should whole populations of SIDS retreat, in/out-of-country migration, or can they create resilience strategies in order to adapt in place to the challenges they face? This panel discussion on Resilience in Place in an Age of Retreat aims to explore this question while promoting interdisciplinary dialogues amongst the Columbia community.

The panel consists of:

Lisa Dale, our moderator for the evening, joined the Earth Institute this past year as a lecturer for the Undergraduate Program in Sustainable Development. With a Ph.D in environmental policy, Lisa has worked with the UN on climate change adaptation and most recently directed the Yale Center for Environmental Law & Policy. This past fall, Lisa taught Environmental Policy & Governance for Sustainable Development, examining policy frameworks at the national and international levels through a sustainability lens. She also serves on the Steering Committee of Columbia’s Adaptation Initiative.

Angela Burnett, one of our panelists, was born and raised in The Virgin Islands. Her passion for the future sustainable development of the Territory led her to pursue a career in the environment. In 2007 she graduated from Brandeis University with a Bachelor’s Degree in Environmental Studies and Sustainable Development. Angela also holds a Master of City and Regional Planning (M.C.R.P.) from the Rutgers University Edward J. Bloustein School of Planning and Public Policy with a dual focus in Environmental and Physical Planning and Housing and Real Estate. Having recently lived through the devastation of Hurricane Irma, the most powerful Atlantic hurricane to ever make landfall, Angela feels compelled to act on a global stage in the fight against climate change.

Radley Horton, one of our panelists, is an Associate Research Professor at the Lamont-Doherty Earth Observatory. His research focuses on climate extremes, tail risks, climate impacts, and adaptation. He currently Co-Chairs Columbia’s Adaptation Initiative, and is Principal Investigator for the Columbia University-WWF ADVANCE partnership, and the NOAA-Regional Integrated Sciences and Assessments-funded Consortium for Climate Risk in the Urban Northeast. Radley is also the Columbia University lead for the Department of Interior-funded Northeast Climate Science Center, and is a PI on an NSF funded Climate Change Education Partnership Project. Most recently, Radley has been a Co-leader in the development of a global research agenda in support of the United Nations Environmental Program’s Programme on Vulnerability, Impacts, and Adaptation (PROVIA) initiative.

Riad Meddeb, one of our panelists, currently serves as the Principal SIDS Advisor for the United Nations Development Programme. He specializes in trade, investment, migration, and technology innovation to address issues and facilitate decisions of policy makers with over 20 years’ experience working with UN agencies, such as UNDP, UNCTAD, and UNITAR. Riad has had extensive experience as an economic and policy advisor to the UN and foreign governments, such as providing assessment and policy advice on economic recovery and livelihoods to support country to mainstream and implement the Sustainable Development Goals.

Tearinaki Tanielu, one of our panelists, is the Kiribati representative for AOSIS (Alliance of Small Island States). Tearinaki is an environmental scientist and policy researcher, who has worked with local governments, international development organisations and with research institutions – focusing on social development and improving livelihoods in our local communities. His key areas of interest and speciality encompass issues that are most pertinent to social development, particularly in the Pacific Region, including: climate change, coastal management, water resources management, and oceans governance policy and marine law.


Columbia’s Adaptation Initiative


Jerome Greene Hall, Room 105
435 W. 116 St.
New York, 10027 United States
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