Meet the COP23 Student Delegation Team!

COP23 Week 1: Nov. 6- 11th, 2017

Siya Agarwal

SiyaHello! My name is Siya Agarwal and I am a 3A Planning Student in the Faculty of Environment.

This is a picture of me in Leh, located on the mountainous foothills of the Himalayas in Northern India. Over the recent years climate change has led to reduced snow fall and increased snowmelt in the region. As a result, there is less water available for agriculture, more occurrences of floods, and increased risk of avalanches. The question I how to gain a response to in COP23 is; how do we adapt to this changing climate? 

Planning and the Environment have a complex relationship where both impact each other. Environmental change impacts the types of planning initiatives undertaken, and planning initiatives determine our impact on the environment. Environmental planning faces serious obstacles due to its multi-jurisdictional nature and I am deeply interested to understand how this is addressed on a global scale.

I want to thank the University of Waterloo for this fantastic opportunity and am excited to represent UW at COP23 in Germany!

Sandra Biskupovic

SandraHi everyone! My name is Sandra and I'm an Environment and Business student in my 3B term. This is a photo of me in Cuba which is one of my absolute favourite countries to visit and one of the unfortunate countries to be impacted by the deadly hurricanes this year. For this reason, I am excited to be attending COP23 where Fiji (a small island developing state) is hosting this COP and there is a strong focus on protecting the areas most vulnerable to climate change

As someone passionate about corporate sustainability, I'm excited to see the role of the private sector at COP23 and how they're supporting NDG's because they play such an important role in achieving national and local goals but must take a different approach than governments and NGO's

I am also attending COP23 this year with the goal of learning how cities and communities around the world are implementing programs and policies at a regional level to adapt to and mitigate climate change. As a student member of the Region of Waterloo's sustainability advisory committee, I hope to bring my new found knowledge back to the region and provide some new suggestions on how we can not only become more resilient to climate change but how the Region of Waterloo can be a leader in carbon reduction and adaption. There is so much progress being done around the globe already to progress on the Paris Agreement goals and I am very excited to learn more about them at COP23 this year representing UW and use that knowledge back home to help make a difference!

Feel free to follow me on other social media, twitter: @SandraBiskupov1 instagram: sandra_biskupovic

Sanchi Sharma

SanchiI am Sanchi Sharma & I am a 3A Environment, Resources, and Sustainability student.  I am attending COP23 because I am interested in learning more about disaster mitigation and gender and climate change. As our weather patterns are drastically changing, natural disasters are on the rise. Disaster mitigation is an important topic to discuss because it helps one prepare for the worst situations during natural disasters. According to many readings, women are the most vulnerable to changes in climate ( e.g., flooding, hurricanes, tornados, etc.). It would be exciting to see how different countries come together to overcome these obstacles. Attending COP23 will be helpful because I will get the opportunity to understand how leaders from diverse disciplines come together to achieve goals that will help our society and help achieve the goal of having a sustainable planet. 

I am appreciative of this excellent opportunity and look forward to representing the University of Waterloo at COP23.

Tia Driver

TiaMy name is Tia Driver, and you've probably seen me around campus. I'm a second year MES student in the SUSM (sustainability management) program.  My research is looking at how market mechanisms impact the flooding risk of municipalities.  

In addition to being a grad student, I'm the vice-chair for the City of Kitchener's Environmental Advisory Committee.  As well, I am a member of the University's Senate. 

My interest in #COP23 is twofold. First, I'm interested in exploring ways to promote student engagement with international policy. Secondly, I would like to integrate municipal and international policy on a more local level. I'm am very grateful for the opportunity to attend COP23, and I look forward to representing UW at this year's conference.

You are able to follow me on twitter @earthsavvy 

Kristin Koetsier

KristinAs a Master of Climate Change student, I am interested in all things climate change but particularly in how climate concerns are communicated most effectively. I believe that making serious progress on climate change will require not just fine-tuning policies within our current system but also shifting to a radically different way of living our lives and seeing the world. I am curious to find out to what extent this need for deep, fundamental change is acknowledged at COP23, as well as to learn more about the ways in which marginalized peoples can take a leading role in creating change. I am grateful to the University of Waterloo for allowing me this opportunity to learn from and make connections with people working on climate change from around the world!

COP23 Week 2: Nov. 12- 17th, 2017

Steven Jia

StevenHi everyone! My name is Steven Jia and I’m going into my 3B term of Systems Design Engineering. Attending a Conference of the Parties has been a dream of mine ever since high school. It was back then that I first became involved with youth environmental groups and local environmental charities. This cultivated a passion for the environment that led to me serving as an executive of the Peel Environmental Youth Alliance, sitting on the Mississauga Environmental Advisory Board, and even travelling to the Canadian and Greenlandic Arctic on an educational expedition with the Students on Ice Foundation. 

Climate change is an incredibly complex problem and as such, viable solutions need to be interdisciplinary and systemic. I’m interested in learning about the role that technology plays in fighting climate change and seeing the work that technical professionals from other countries have done on this issue at COP23. One of the biggest challenges for engineers is effectively communicating technical information to non-technical audiences, so I want to know how others have adapted messaging strategies to achieve this. At COP23, I also want to become more well-versed in international policy, hold our government accountable to our emission reduction targets for 2030, and learn about how we can better protect the areas most vulnerable to climate change.

I look forward to representing the University of Waterloo in Bonn and I hope that you will follow us on our journey! Thanks!

Vanessa Corkal

VanessaMy name is Vanessa Corkal, and I'm a student in the Master of Climate Change program at Waterloo. My background is in documentary film and journalism, and I was most recently living in Montreal.

My academic interests include community development, food security/sovereignty, and indigenous rights. I'm looking forward to COP23 as a way to learn from people from all over the world about how they're dealing with the twin challenges of climate change and food security. I'm interested in this on two levels: what are NGOs and smaller, local organizations doing on-the-ground? And are policymakers tuning in to the need to better integrate local, regional, and national governance?

Looking forward to this adventure and to representing both the MCC and the University of Waterloo community at this global event!

Samantha Gray

SamanthaMy name is Sam, I'm currently studying for my Master's of Climate Change, and I'm a big fan of snow and keeping winters long.

I'm excited for COP23 to see how the developed countries build on commitments made in the Paris Agreement, like committing to higher emission reduction targets, and increasing adaptation funding for SIDS and LDCs. I'm interested in seeing whether climate engineering will be discussed as an actual mitigation tactic for the future, and also very excited for the Food and Climate side event to hear from experts about the link between climate change and diet in the Western world.

Overall, I'm excited to learn from, and meet, people from all around the world, from all backgrounds, who share the same passions as I do, and I'm grateful to UW for making that happen.​

Ena Ristic

Ena​I'm a former B.Sc. student in my beginning term of a Master of Climate Change degree at the University of Waterloo. I've never quite been able to answer where my interest in the environment began, it was just always something that intrinsically made sense to me. I remember learning about recycling in class in grade 2 and thinking that it was such an amazing idea that everyone was going to reduce their waste and help save the planet. Of course as I grew up I learned that the issues were considerably more complicated than that and that saving the planet would involve a little more than separating paper and plastics. When I got to my current program in Waterloo everything just clicked together perfectly- this is what I wanted to do. Going to this conference for me means the opportunity to see the forefront of what the world is doing to keep the planet, and humans, safe. I'm really looking forward to seeing events specifically relating to food security in the wake of a changing climate, the role of women in this changing world, and learning new perspectives on the problem which I've probably never even considered. 

Khaled Ibrahim

KhaledHaving completed my Bachelors of Science degree thesis in enhancing efficiency's of solar collectors, and working during my PhD on novel materials in PV solar cells, thus using my engineering background in green energy solution technologies has always been on the forefront of my research interests. And therefore, being part of COP23 team is a really valuable opportunity for myself to observe what the current state of the art technologies that are implemented amongst other key dialogues that one can have.

Benjamin Andrade

BenjaminI am a doctoral student in the Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering at the University of Waterloo and an Energy Council of Canada Energy Policy Research Fellow, at the Waterloo Institute for Sustainable Energy (WISE). My research explores the valuation and monetization of the environmental impacts of the residual life of building stock in North America. The first stage of my research involves adding a Life Cycle Assessment (LCA) perspective to the decision-making methodology involved in adaptive reuse of buildings. The aim is to contribute to the sustainability in construction and climate change through mitigation of negative environmental impacts such as energy demand, carbon emissions, and water depletion, among others. The second stage focuses on the optimization process to assist in maximizing the environmental benefits in the process of adaptive reuse. The final stage will extend the analysis across the building stock market in North America to determine the potential environmental benefits in a typical city.

I am a Civil Engineer with a Master in Engineering from the University of the Americas. I am originally from the city of Puebla in Mexico. Before initiating my doctoral studies, I worked as an Environmental Inspector of the State of Puebla. Puebla is the fourth largest state in Mexico with 6.1 million inhabitants. Some of my duties were to verify the fulfillment of the applicable laws inside of the environmental jurisdiction for new and existing buildings. Later, I had the opportunity to become Assistant Professor of the Faculty of Civil and Environmental Engineering at the Technological Institute of Monterrey (ITESM). My effort and dedication have allowed me to participate in research projects in collaboration with universities and investigation centers in Mexico and U.S.A.

By attending the COP23 event, I will gain a lot of value for my professional career and learning path, such as, field experience, creating international networking, and bringing me closer to the debate of sustainability in a multicultural approach. My research field is related and aligned to the objectives and vision of the Paris Agreement in the field of reducing carbon emissions in construction. It is very important to me to get involved in the most recent discussions on the topic, in order to have proactive participation as a researcher. This could bring a lot of value to my current research and it could make it even more significant.