Financing Climate Change Adaptation: insights from Sustainable Development in Latin America and the Caribbean

This piece is part of a series of posts looking to highlight the Global, Interdisciplinary and Entrepreneurial character of F&ES. It’s hard to keep track of all the initiatives students are involved in, and we hope to provide a spotlight for them. For prospective students who wish to know more, and current students who wish to have their work featured in this series, please email:


At a time when global climate change negotiations are aiming to determine the world’s priorities, 2018 and 2019 have become landmark years to decide on the future of finance, adaptation, technology transfer, capacity-building, nationally determined contributions, and the future of the Paris Agreement as a whole.

Camila Rodriguez Taylor ’19 M.E.M. (Argentina) and Nicholas Fields ’19 M.E.M. (Barbados) are seizing this opportunity to bring international speakers and mainstream the climate finance discussions in F&ES, through the IV Sustainable Development in Latin America and the Caribbean Conference (SDLAC), which will take place on February 22 and 23, 2019.

SDLAC is a student-led initiative that was started in 2016, out of a need to promote a more inclusive space for discussing and highlighting countries in the Latin America and the Caribbean (LAC) region within the context of sustainable development. The conference has been running yearly, with every edition focusing on specific sustainable development goals (SDG), from the context of LAC.

The conference theme is “Catalyzing Adaptation and Climate Finance. Why did you choose to talk about Sustainable Finance? Is there a particular reason why it became relevant this year?

  • Camila: “We want to raise the visibility of climate change adaptation and lead a discussion on the needs of climate finance for adaptation solutions. Through our studies and activities here, we found this niche, this topic that is untapped at FES”.
  • Nicholas: “There is rising interest in climate change at the school, which provided a great opportunity to lead SDLAC with this particular focus – building upon the climate change conversations at FES, and realizing that sustainable finance deserves to be highlighted, creating more spaces for discussions on resilience and adaptation at a global level”.
  • Camila: “This is the right moment to talk about sustainable finance. Beyond F&ES, efforts are being made in the same direction, such as the Global Commission on Adaptation recently launched by Ban Ki-moon and Patricia Espinoza”.

How did the two of you start working together?

  • Camila: “We first met at the F&ES international students orientation session in the Summer of 2017. We learnt that we have many shared interests, such as the love of dancing, and it later became clear that working together was a natural fit: we are both interested in the LAC region and climate change, we are also closely following the negotiations taking place at the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) and interested in the outcomes regarding adaptation and climate finance – that will ultimately make the implementation of the Paris Agreement real in our region. We knew SDLAC would be the perfect place to showcase the importance of these issues”.
  • Nicholas: “After last year’s conference, we decided to take up the torch and lead SDLAC in 2019. We also started coinciding in different projects: we both spent the Summer of 2018 in Washington D.C.,  doing our summer internships with The Nature Conservancy (TNC) and the World Resources Institute (WRI), which allowed us to start thinking about conference content. That same summer, Camila interned for the United Nations Development Program (UNDP) in Barbados–my home country– and now we’re both getting ready to attend the UNFCCC Conference of the Parties (COP24), both as members of national delegations for small island states.

What are your favorite aspects of running SDLAC? How many students are in your team, and in which ways are they able to get involved in the planning process?

  • Nicholas: “Each conference is entirely student-led, typically by a mix of first-year and second-year students, which helps ensure continuity for the coming year. Getting involved with conference organizing provides us with networking opportunities and a chance to hone our leadership skills”.
  • Camila: “We are making it so that every member of the organizing committee focuses on panels that are specific to what they’re interested in, that way they can provide their vision of how the panel could move forward. By working together with second-year students, first-years can learn from the experience of those who were involved the year before, and get the experience of going through the entire thought process of designing the conference, which is a learning that can be taken into next year’s editionAside from that, the SDLAC conference is well known for its diversity of speakers: ranging from local indigenous communities to senior officials in government, non-government organizations and development agencies, which provides an enriching opportunity for students organizing and attending”.

What kind of support are you getting from F&ES, its faculty, alumni and/or other institutions around Yale?

  • Nicholas: “On the logistics side, we’ve received substantial support from F&ES and the Council of Latin American and Iberian Studies (CLAIS), which has joined as a co-host. They have been increasingly supportive, through their contributions and facilitation of the event. This has allowed for the conference to solidify, and gain recognition for its impact bringing new discussion topics to the school”.
  • Camila: “In addition, the alumni network has been extraordinarily helpful to reach out to speakers. They have helped us contact professionals working throughout LAC and across sectors and organizations. Recent graduates involved with past years conferences have also provided valuable resources and mentorship. F&ES Faculty provided their feedback on the concept note, the theme, and suggesting contacts through their network”.
  • Nicholas: “It has also been helpful to work with alumni in the Environmental Leadership Mentoring (ELM) Program ran by the Career Development Office (CDO). Camila’s mentor has been incredibly helpful, and the CDO has been supportive helping us navigate the alumni database, to bring in resources and people from that network, plus supporting networking opportunities for F&ES students to meet with speakers once they get to campus. The team at Student Services has also been of great help, especially Prof. Gordon Geballe, our faculty advisor”.

Finally, who can attend SDLAC? What is your intended audience and is the conference open to prospective students?

  • Camila: “We are targeting a broader audience, and prospective students are certainly welcome! We hope that those interested in climate change adaptation, resilience and climate finance issues can attend. The conference is designed to be useful for professionals of all regions, by providing examples of success and failure in the LAC region, and sharing insights for professionals working in the Global South”.


Nicholas Fields ‘19 M.E.M. (Barbados) is a Fulbright Scholar interested in climate resilience for small island states, specifically climate change manifestations in the Caribbean. Before coming to F&ES, he worked for national and regional NGOs in climate resilience, sustainable development and environmental conservation and protection.

Camila Rodriguez Taylor ‘19 M.E.M. (Argentina) is an environmental engineer and an Argentinian Presidential Fellow – a fellowship administered by Fulbright. Her work focuses on climate change policy and climate finance – with a particular interest in climate resilience, disaster risk management and private sector engagement to catalyze climate action. Camila is the Climate Change SIG co-leader and a Student Associate at the Climate Change and Health Initiative at Yale. Before coming to F&ES, she worked in the design and implementation of climate change mitigation and adaptation projects, with a particular focus in rural development.