Hi, I am Laura and I am currently in the last year of my postgraduate studies (Environmental Sciences) at Wageningen University. I hold a background in Biotechnology, but in Wageningen I learned that environmental problems are complex and to solve them we need both natural science as well as social sciences. This is why I decided to specialise in Environmental Policy in my current degree. I am especially interested in the role of local actors and NGOs, developmental questions versus the environment, and public awareness raising towards environmental issues.
Since October 2015, I am also involved in the Sustainable Development and Diplomacy track. What I really like in SDD is that it focuses on solutions and mutual gains rather than constraints and that it fosters the engagement of a wider range of actors. I am especially interested at the local level, how we can empower/engage local people in solving environmental problems. Here, environmental organisations play a crucial role.
For me, the world is a mosaic. We have many different environmental problems that require flexible and localised answers. Therefore, I think that participatory approaches with regards to local communities will play an ever-growing role in finding localised solutions. I also strongly believe that exchanges between those different communities/programmes/partnerships/organisations are very important in order to benefit from each other’s knowledge and to gain different points of views. Speaking four languages (currently learning my fifth, which is Chinese) and having lived in several different countries for a while, I would like to contribute in the facilitation and extension of those networks during my later connection with SDD in order to foster cooperation between different programmes/partnerships, especially with regard to water quality/quantity problems.
While working for a local environmental NGO in Beijing for my 4-months-internship, I noticed that in order to make participatory approaches work, local participants need to be educated appropriately. Mostly this was not the case. Environmental education and public awareness raising are one of the key stones of this century in order to face the environmental challenges of this time. In my thesis, I would like to combine my interest for NGOs and education by examining the roles of NGOs in facilitating the implementation of international treaties on the ground and their contribution to environmental education and awareness raising with relation to Article 13 of the Convention on Biological Diversity.