December 15, 2014

A delegation of Columbia students, including four SIPA students and alumni, recently visited Lima, Peru, to take part in the 20th session of the United Nation’s Conference of the Parties (COP 20) focusing on climate change. The conference was held from December 1 to 12.

The students are members of the Columbia University Coalition for Sustainable Development (CUCSD), a student group formed in 2012 with the aim of engaging the University-wide community in conversations around sustainable development and increasing awareness around sustainable development.

“This year member states are supposed to agree… on the treaty that will replace the Kyoto Protocol at the next conference,” said Cassia Moraes MPA-DP ’15. “We expect a lot of negotiations.”

“The stakes are high,” she added. “Following the recent agreement between the U.S. and China, we have very important political momentum.”

As Moraes explained, the students who represented Columbia have a diverse range of interests and specializations related to climate change—with focuses on agriculture, energy issues, gender, and the impact of climate change on disasters. Joining Moraes at the conference were SIPA students Douglas Enrique Gómez Mendiburu MPA-DP ’15 and Cesar Penafiel MIA ’15 and alumna Laura Sundblad MPA ’14, IF ’14.

You can view CUCSD members’ blog posts from this year’s conference at The student group is also already planning on sending members to COP 21.

“That will be the most important COP so far because it will replace Kyoto with whatever they find,” Moraes said. “We hope it’s something better and not only ambitious with emissions reductions, but also an implementation plan that can be effective because that was the main issue with the Kyoto Protocol.”

This isn’t the first high-level conference that CUCSD members have participated in. Members have taken an active role in events including the UN Social Innovation Summit, the UN’s Conference on Sustainable Development Rio+20, and the Citizen Summit at Yale University.

Pictured above (L-R): Laura Sundblad, Douglas Enrique Gómez Mendiburu, Cassia Moraes, and Cesar Penafiel. Thanks to Cassia Moraes for sharing this and other photographs.