Humboldt and me

Yes, as mentioned in my previous post, I’m back in Germany! Last September, after a selection process of about six months in which around 240 young professionals from developing countries participated, I was chosen as one of the 20 fellows for the “International Climate Protection Program” of the Alexander von Humboldt Foundation.

Coincidentally, the Nicaraguan organization for which I was working until last December also bears the name of this renowned German scientist, who undertook a long journey discovering and describing “Spanish America” (1799-1804). Humboldt’s drawings, annotations and publications from that time – over 200 years ago – describing the Chimborazo, are being used today to assess the change in the ecosystems covering this Ecuadorian volcano and also serve as a basis for identifying the effects of global climate change at the local level. So now for many reasons, Humboldt is an important figure in my professional life.

The “International Climate Protection Program” allows grantees to work for one year in a German institution/organization of their choice. The profiles of these institutions/organizations range from research centers and NGOs to think tanks that influence climate policy at the international level. In my case, I have the opportunity to work as a “fellow researcher” in the center where I developed my Master’s thesis, the Climate Service Center – Germany (GERICS). This meets the objective of the program: the exchange between fellows and German institutions, enabling both to learn from and contribute to each other’s work.

 

The topic I’m working on is related to decision-making and planning for adaptation to climate change, an issue of utmost importance for developing countries, which usually have limited financial resources and therefore must make efficient use of the ones available.

But the program is not limited to the work of each fellow with his/her host institution. As part of the fellowship, the Humboldt Foundation organizes an introductory seminar, which allowed me to share three weeks with my fellow colleagues: a group of 20 young professionals, all with experience and leadership in their countries in various issues related to climate change. It was very interesting to hear their views, encounter different socio-economic contexts and learn from each and every one of them. They are just awesome!

The fact that climate change is related to a wide range of themes and sectors is reflected in the work that each of the fellows will be developing during the fellowship: energy efficiency, renewable energies, international politics, adaptation, carbon markets, risk management disaster, and agriculture to name just a few.

The introductory seminar also gave us the opportunity to learn from the experience and work of a variety of German institutions and organizations. Those working on topics related to the science of climate change include the Alfred Wegener Institute in Bremerhaven, which has been organizing expeditions to the North and South Poles since 1980, and the GIZ, which is the leading agency for German development cooperation. We also visited the eco-district “Vauban” in Freiburg.

This new professional experience confirms my belief that Germany is a country which offers many opportunities not only to realize ideas and achieve goals but also, and more importantly, to grow professionally and personally. Institutions such as the DAAD, CIM (which also supported me while I worked in Nicaragua), and the Humboldt Foundation, make these great experiences possible for young professionals like me. My personal commitment is to ensure that these opportunities result in more than just my own personal benefit, that they also strengthen my resolve to work for my country and region.

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