Emily Dowding-Smith '11 (New Zealand), environmental lawyer

September 25, 2018

MESPOM is a super fun way to learn about different cultures, explore Europe, and get different perspectives on international environmental issues. 

"After graduating (MESPOM batch 5: 2009-2011), it took me eight months to find the right position for me, which was tough. I kept busy with volunteer and part time contracts in Sweden, where I worked on the Young Masters Programme www.goymp.org and founded a youth group and sent 120 bikes from Sweden to Cape Town, www.livscykel.org to empower high school students to take action on sustainability. It was worth the wait because I love my current job! And for those in a similar position you just have to keep at it and stay positive; the right thing will come your way!

Resilient Cities: About the Global Forum

In the Resilient Cities team at ICLEI we put on the annual Global Forum on Urban Resilience and Adaptation to climate change. My role is in developing the programme, where I work with the programme committee to select the contributions, create the sessions and panels. We have 400-500 participants and experts from around the world converge to discuss the role of cities adapting to climate change and resilience. It is a new and evolving field, which makes it educational and exciting. In 2013 I will also run a special forum on Resilient Urban Food Systems, looking at the importance of city-region food systems and their role in climate change adaptation. After the congress I wrote a report and published a paper on the event and then ran a series of six webinars showcasing experts from our conference in 2012. It is a fantastic job because I get to learn about all the amazing projects that cities around the world are working on in order to adapt and strengthen their resilience and I get to meet all the inspiring people that work in this field! There are great things happening and seeing this every day keeps me motivated and makes me want to work harder to make the world a better place.

A great aspect of MESPOM is the freedom of choice for your thesis topic. I wrote my thesis on the resilience of the seed systems in Havana, Cuba's city gardens. It was a novel and innovative topic. Having resilience as my theoretical framework gave me a thorough understanding of it for what I do now in this role and it helped set me up for running the food systems forum. Another great aspect is of course the multi cultural study environment and international nature of the program. This is similar in both my current work place, with colleagues from around the world, and the nature of my work, working with projects from different countries.

MESPOM is a super fun way to learn about different cultures, explore Europe, and get different perspectives on international environmental issues. These aspects are what set it apart from other programmes and help you develop and form a more global picture on current topics. That and the fact that you make amazing friends from around the world along the way."

Emily's current location, place of employment and position:
Bonn, Germany, World Secretariat of ICLEI - Local Governments for Sustainability, Urban Food Systems Forum Manager in Resilient Cities Team