UN COP Delegation

Emory was accredited as an official observer to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) in 2014 and we have sent delegations to the Conference of the Parties (COP) to the UNFCCC since 2015.  Click on the tabs below to learn more about our delegations from previous years.

Emory Delegation to 2017 UN Climate Conference - Bonn, Germany

Fourteen students and faculty are representing Emory at the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) 23rd Conference of the Parties (COP23) November 6-17 in Bonn Germany. Two groups of six students each are attending the conference with the two faculty members. They are the third Emory climate delegation since 2014, when Emory became one of only 50 American universities accredited as an official observer to the UNFCCC.

Click here for updates from the delegation

Emory’s Delegation to the 2017 UN Climate Conference 

Eri Saikawa – Assistant Professor, Department of Environmental Sciences. Dr. Saikawa has developed and organized the Emory delegation to the UN Climate Change negotiations since 2015. She taught the CoLA course with Sheila Tefft and Wes Longhofer in 2015 and led the first Emory delegation to the 21st Conference of the Parties (COP21) in Paris that year. She was head of the Emory delegation to COP22 in Marrakech in 2016, and is leading the Emory student delegates to COP23 in Bonn in 2017. She is excited to have an opportunity to showcase Emory research on climate change and hopes to establish more links with other universities and NGOs for future delegations.

Sheila Tefft—Senior Lecturer, Department of English Writing Program. Sheila Tefft specializes in science writing about health and climate change, composition, and multimedia journalism. She was a reporter, editor and foreign correspondent for almost 25 years and served as Emory Journalism director 2000-2009. She spent 12 years in Asia where she was a correspondent and bureau chief for The Christian Science Monitor in Beijing, Bangkok and New Delhi and developed a special interest in environmental journalism. She has also worked for The Chicago Tribune and The Atlanta Constitution and freelanced for many other publications.

Lauren Balotin—Junior, Emory College. Lauren majors in environmental sciences and media studies and is interested in a career in science communications or environmental health. She is involved with the Emory Wheel student newspaper, the Emory Environment Senate Standing Committee, Pi Beta Phi, Hybrid Vigor, and Emory Eagle Runners. She is interested in climate change as a global issue and interdisciplinary study that affects fields ranging from economics to public health. Through her interests in science communications and environmental health, she hopes to mobilize the public for action on climate change and its impact on food supply and malnutrition, the spread of vector-borne diseases and other issues.

Claire Barnes—Junior, Emory College. Claire is pursuing a degree in religion and philosophy with a minor in sustainability and is passionate about food and environmental justice and interdisciplinary education. During her time at Emory, she has developed an interest in climate justice as it relates to indigenous peoples in the U.S., and is currently conducting research in the department of anthropology on these intersections. She has held leadership positions in Slow Food Emory, the American Mock World Health Organization, the IDEAS Fellowship, and Residence Life and Housing at Emory.

Zola Berger-Schmitz—Junior, Emory College. A junior majoring in political science and music performance, Zola is passionate about environmental advocacy and has testified on renewable energy at public hearings before government agencies such as the Georgia Public Service Commission. She is a co-president of the Emory Climate Organization and hopes to pursue a career in environmental policy and to run for political office someday on a green platform.

Jennifer Fundora—Senior, Emory College. Jennifer studies environmental sciences and international studies and is a Mellon Mays undergraduate fellow investigating rates of deforestation in Haiti and the Dominican Republic. She leads the Emory Climate Organization as co-president, and creates climate change advocacy events on campus and in the city of Atlanta. During the UN climate negotiations, she looks forward to learning more about adaptive capacity and resilience building within the more vulnerable communities in the United States and developing countries.
Orli Hendler—Senior, Emory College. Orli studies linguistics and sustainability sciences and engages in the Emory community in a variety of ways. Since her sophomore year, she has lived in the sustainability-themed first year residence halls. In her junior year, she participated in multiple projects to further Emory sustainability efforts, including writing Emory's sustainable history on green space and mapping invasive species in Lullwater Preserve. She currently serves as an intern at the Carter Center, captain of Emory’s women’s club soccer team, and a member of the mock trial team.

Maria Jolly—MSPH, Environmental Epidemiology, Rollins School of Public Health. Maria, an energetic leader with a last name fitting her personality, became interested in climate and health as an undergraduate studying environmental science and policy at the University of Illinois. The impact of dirty-burning cooking fuels on her family’s health in India also has involved her in issues of indoor air pollution. She was a fellow at the National Center for Environmental Health at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention for 2 ½ years. At Rollins, she is co-president of Students for Social Justice and is part of the HERCULES Exposome Research Center’s efforts to strengthen relationships between Emory and Atlanta community organizers and members.

Jamani (Roe) Montague—Senior, Emory College. Roe, a major in international studies and environmental sciences, conducts research on prison ecology or the intersections between prison facilities and the natural environment. She is interested in the relationship between prison labor and environmental pollution and climate change and is an active participant in multiple student organizations on campus, including the Emory Climate Organization, the Student Alumni Board and Emory SPEAR.

Aspen Ono—Senior, Emory College. Aspen majors in environmental sciences and international studies with a focus on developing a holistic view of international environmental relations, especially pertaining to climate and global environmental justice. She is co-author of a study on climate change research priorities in Georgia and has conducted research in the environmental justice field. She is currently focused on the impact of climate change on global migration patterns. At the Bonn climate talks, she intends to explore global plans for dealing with projected increases in climate change migration and attend meetings related to migration issues.

Cassidy Schwartz—Senior, Emory College. A major in environmental sciences and international studies, Cassidy is president of the Emory College Council and works to establish a culture of sustainability within student organizations. She also serves as vice president of solutions management for the Emory Climate Analysis and Solutions Team, a forum organized to advance climate-related student projects. Through this organization, she hopes to educate the student body about the benefits of clean energy and build a coalition of student support for increased solar deployment on campus. Cassidy aspires to a career in environmental policy to mobilize urban residents to take action against climate change.

Margaret (Meggie) Stewart—Senior, Emory College. Meggie describes herself as a sassy, sincere, and sustainability-minded senior studying environmental sciences with a minor in Arabic. She is passionate about environmental justice, agriculture, and local food systems in communities around the world. Her environmental interests also include ecology, especially mycology (studying mushrooms), and climate change mitigation efforts. As a student at Emory, she also enjoys riding bikes, gardening, playing ultimate frisbee, and tutoring children in the Clarkston area. After graduation, she hopes to pursue a career in law or public health to help people mitigate climate change and improve their lives.

Ken Wakabayashi—Senior, Emory College. Ken is studying environmental science and chemistry at Emory and focuses his climate-related efforts on air pollution, greenhouse gas mitigation, and adaptation. He has worked with the city of Atlanta Mayor's Office of Sustainability and Emory's Office of Sustainability Initiatives. He has experience working on the Atlanta Greenhouse Gas Inventory project and created an annual sustainability report for each Emory academic unit. His current interest is establishing an air pollution monitoring system at Emory.

Dillon Wu—Junior, Emory College. Dillon is interested in international relations and climate change as the most important issue in global politics. Climate change has significant impacts not only on global economic health but also on security relations among developing countries. He hopes to become a U.S. diplomat and play a role in addressing these intersecting challenges. At Emory, he is involved in the Emory International Relations Association (EIRA) and its associated Model UN team, Project SHINE, the East Asia Collective, and the Barkley Forum.

Emory Delegation to 2016 UN Climate Conference - Marrakech, Morocco

For the second year in a row, Emory sent a delegation to the UN Climate Change Conference. 

Emory delegation to COP22

A 10-member team traveled to Marrakech for the November 7-18 UN climate change conference, which serves as both the 22nd“Conference of the Parties” (COP 22) to the original 1992 UN Framework Convention on Climate Change and also importantly the first meeting of the Parties to the 2015 Paris Agreement (CMA 1).

The delegation was led by Environmental Sciences Assistant Professor Dr. Eri Saikawa and included four undergraduate students, two graduate students, and three staff members (see bios below). The 2016 talks started just days after the groundbreaking 2015 Paris Agreement on climate change officially entered into force on November 4.

The team posted blogs from Morocco at http://climate.emorydomains.org/posts/, and students tweeted at https://twitter.com/emoryclimateorg

Also in Marrakech, just before the start of COP-22, Dr. Carla Roncoli, Associate Director of Emory's Master's in Development Practice program, participated in Indigenous 2016, a conference organized by UNESCO and the Indigenous People of Africa Coordinating Committee. The conference brought together researchers and indigenous activists from around the world to share experiences and formulate recommendations for the inclusion of indigenous people's concerns in the upcoming COP22. Dr. Roncoli presented a paper on how local farming communities perceive and address climate-related water scarcity in Burkina Faso.

Emory’s Delegation to the 2016 UN Climate Conference 

Eri Saikawa – Assistant Professor, Environmental Sciences.  Dr. Saikawa is an assistant professor in the Department of Environmental Sciences. She taught the CoLA course last year with Sheila Tefft and Wes Longhofer and took the first Emory delegation to the 21st Conference of the Parties (COP 21) to the UN Climate Change negotiation in Paris last year. She is excited to have an opportunity to showcase research done at Emory on climate change at the COP 22 this year and is hoping to establish more links with other universities and NGOs for future delegations.

Maya Bornstein – Sophomore, Emory College Maya is passionate about social justice topics, especially those concerning inequalities. In 2015 she received the Break the Cycle Grant, which address poverty through health disparities, and focused specifically on the effects of urban gardening in the Metro-Atlanta area in order to combat food deserts. Climate justice is an issue Maya continues to learn more about, and she helped organize Climate Change Week and Emory Climate Organization (ECO) at Emory last year.

Mae Bowen ‘16C – Emory Scholars Program. Mae is a 2016 graduate of Emory College currently working on external relations for the Emory Scholars Program. She studied environmental sciences and political science and is headed to New York University next year to pursue her JD.  She was a member of Emory's first UNFCCC delegation to COP21 in Paris last year and co-founded the Emory Climate Organization. Mae is excited to attend COP22 to continue learning about the legal and language mechanisms used by negotiators, the effect of culture and values on diplomacy, and how small island developing states advocate for themselves at meetings like the COP. She also hopes to help build relationships for Emory to utilize for future COP side events, connect with Emory alumni in relevant fields, and create content to utilize in a development campaign to support future Emory COP delegations. 

Caiwei Huang – 4-year B.A./M.A. student, Political Science.  Mae is interested in how China's low-carbon development. She is currently researching on how China’s energy system can adopt a more low-carbon diet. At COP22, Caiwei will be presenting her current research at the 1-day Oasis venue. As an official observer, she wishes to focus on China’s role in international climate negotiation. She also hopes to interview some Chinese officials for her current research.

Jin Lee – Emory Law Student.  Jin is in her last year of law school at Emory University School of Law, and will be practicing environmental law upon graduation in Washington, D.C. During law school, she worked at the EPA and Coca-Cola’s environmental law department, focusing on federal water law. At COP, Jin will be presenting Emory Turner Clinic’s review of the Clean Power Plan in 8 Southeastern States, which evaluates whether state laws allow the states to implement the Clean Power Plan. She looks forward to learning about the legal frameworks behind enforcing the Paris Agreement, water conservation efforts, and climate justice issues.

Kate Lee, Clinical Fellow and Staff Attorney for the Turner Environmental Law Clinic and Policy Manager for the Southeast Energy Efficiency Alliance. Originally from eastern North Carolina, Kate is a graduate of UNC-Chapel Hill and Georgetown University Law Center. Since joining the Clinic in January 2015, Kate has worked on a variety of energy and environmental matters, focusing on climate and energy policy. Most recently, she prepared a report on Clean Power Plan compliance in the Southeast, and filed an amicus brief on behalf of three river protection non-profits in Florida v. Georgia, an original action in the U.S. Supreme Court. At COP 22, she will be participating on the panel titled Health: the New Paradigm for Local Climate Action with the U.S. Green Building Council in a side event on Wednesday, November 9 titled.

Emily Li – Senior, Emory College.  Emily is studying creative writing/English and environmental sciences with a passion for science journalism. As media chair of the ECO, she oversees the group’s digital media content. Last summer, she worked for the Smithsonian Environmental Research Center as the science writing and communications intern, and hopes to continue to engage the public in climate science at COP 22.

Geoff Martin – M.S. Candidate, Environmental Science. Geoff is a second-year master's student in the Department of Environmental Sciences and has worked in Dr. Eri Saikawa's lab group since Fall 2015. He received his undergraduate degree in Development Studies from Brown University in May 2011. Before coming to Emory, Geoff worked with Massachusetts’ energy efficiency program, MassSave, for a private company conducting home energy assessments. For his thesis, Geoff is analyzing the effectiveness of common state-level climate and energy policies on reducing carbon emissions from power plants. He is also interested in determining why states adopt effective climate policies, while others adopt ineffective policies or block climate action altogether. At COP22, Geoff will present on potential opportunities for U.S.-China collaboration on climate change, with an emphasis on the energy sector. He is also excited to share information about the COP with Emory students and faculty once returning to Emory.

Tyler Stern ‘16C - Residence Life Fellow.  Tyler graduated Emory last year with a degree in Applied Physics and played a key role in creating the Emory Climate Organization. He is looking forward to learning about different sustainable technologies whenever he's not assisting web technology or digital strategy while in Morocco. 

Jennie Sun – Senior, Emory College.  Jennie is a senior double majoring in Environmental Sciences and Economics. She is involved with the Emory Climate Organization and helped with planning and organizing last year’s Climate Week. She is also passionate about advocating sustainable food on campus, by which she helped with planning the Emory 2016 Sustainable Food Fair. As part of the Emory delegation attending UN’s COP 22, she is interested in hearing about solutions and actions to climate change from developed nations and looking forward to see a greater focus on major climate related issues happening in developing nations. She is excited to bring her experience back to Emory in the form of blog and photographs!

Emory Delegation to 2015 UN Climate Conference - Paris, France


In December 2014, the Conference of the Parties to the United Nations (UN) Framework Convention on Climate Change approved Emory University as an accredited, official observer to the UN climate talks. The accreditation allows Emory faculty, staff and students to participate in annual negotiating sessions such as those that produced the international agreements in Kyoto in 1997 and Copenhagen in 2009.

In November 2015, Emory sent its inaugural delegation to the UN Climate Change Conference in Paris. In preparation for this year’s conference, Emory faculty from Goizueta Business School, the Department of Environmental Sciences, and the Institute of the Liberal Arts created a new interdisciplinary course – “Paris is an Explanation: Understanding Climate Change at the 2015 United Nations (UN) Meeting in France.”

More information from the student delegation is available here:

A once in a lifetime opportunity to participate in the United Nations Climate Change negotiations...

Please consider supporting Emory's efforts to send students to the COP. You may make a secure donation by clicking here.

What is the UNFCCC?

Ratified in 1992, the UNFCCC is the first global treaty addressing climate change, which created this body and meets yearly to discuss progress and take bold action. The Kyoto Protocol and more recent Paris Agreement are other landmark treaties that have come out of these annual meetings. Emory has sent delegations to COP21 in Paris, France in 2015 and COP22 in Marrakech, Morocco in 2016.

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Why have a delegation?

Emory is one of only 50 American universities with official observer status at the COP each year. Emory and Duke University are the only schools representing the southeastern United States. As not only a peer of these schools, but a top institution for public health, scientific research, and law, Emory is a valuable addition to the RINGO (Research Institutions and Non-Governmental Organizations) constituency at the UNFCCC. After only two years attending the COP, Emory has gained new research partnerships and ideas, presented our research to large international audiences, and made connections with NGOs, businesses, and policymakers.

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The Emory Philosophy

Some schools send their faculty and researchers to collaborate and present their work. Others send graduate students working on specific climate-related projects. A smaller group still, including Emory for the past two years, focuses on creating a unique growth experience geared toward mostly undergraduate students. Some of these student delegations collaborate on one large research project, while others task each student with producing a report on a specific issue at the conference. Emory has taken a flexible and creative approach, by allowing students to propose individual projects based on their interests. The course offered in the Fall semester prepares students for the upcoming climate negotiation and delegations will have ample opportunity to take action on climate change after their trip on Emory campus and in Atlanta communities. Emory recruits an academically diverse group of students, with past delegation members having studied environmental sciences, creative writing, economics, business administration, political science, anthropology, music, sociology, law, history, and more.

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Experiential Learning and Climate Change

As part of the Emory COP delegation and related initiatives, participating students, partake in a year-long interdisciplinary course which emphasizes collaboration, science and policy knowledge, communication skills, and community advocacy. Taylor McNair 16B explains why the course was meaningful to him:

“Our projects leading up to Paris gave me the chance to talk to some of Atlanta's leading climate experts. And our class post-COP had the exciting opportunity to engage all of Emory's campus in meaningful and transformative climate discussions and action. All of this occurred with the most diverse group of students, in terms of backgrounds and academic interests, that I have had the opportunity to work with during my four years at Emory.”  -Taylor McNair 16B

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Outcomes (so far)

Following Emory’s first delegation trip to COP21, where the landmark Paris Agreement was signed, the participating students dove into the work of bringing the COP - and climate change advocacy - to Emory’s campus and beyond. The Emory Climate Organization (ECO) was co-founded in January 2016 by members of the inaugural delegation to educate the community on climate change science, policy, advocacy, and action. You can learn more about ECO at http://climate.emorydomains.org/ and listen to the podcasts and read blog articles by delegations. The delegation(s) have also participated in events held at the Carter Center and the Atlanta Science Festival, held a joint panel with researchers from Nanjing University, and brought speakers to campus, among other programming.

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Opportunity for All

We believe that opportunities like this should not be limited to those students with the means to finance an overseas trip. We aim to build delegations that are diverse in terms of socio-economic status, race and ethnicity, research interests, and other aspects of background and identity. This emphasis creates an eye-opening experience for the students and faculty involved as well as ensures that we are showcasing the best Emory has to offer. We believe that any student, should they be passionate about combating climate change and qualified to participate, should have the opportunity to represent Emory on the world stage with this opportunity. In order to fully fund the future delegations, we need your help!

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Program Goals

  • Send 10-15 students and 1-2 faculty to yearly COP meeting as part of Emory course
  • Organize annual events which bring the COP back to Emory and Atlanta

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Student Experiences at the COP

 Mae Bowen

“There is only so much you can learn about the process of negotiating an international agreement from a textbook. Attending the COP expanded my knowledge of the painstaking process of crafting these treaties. My appreciation for this process changed my entire academic and professional trajectory. I’ve always known that I wanted to enter public service and protect the environment, but this invaluable experience convinced me to enter law school on my way to combatting climate change on an international scale. It was truly inspiring to see that 195 nations, despite immeasurable differences, could come together and make progress on an issue which many believe to be impossible to fix. Now, I have hope.” -Mae Bowen 16C

 Taylor McNair

“COP21 in Paris was undoubtedly the defining experience of my Emory education. The opportunity I received to meet and engage with academics, activists, business leaders, and politicians across the world had a profound impact on my post-graduation plans, and gave me the drive and resources to pursue opportunities in the cleantech industry.” -Taylor McNair 16B


Jennie Sun

“The COP 22 experience was beyond any knowledge learning process in class. It was really impactful to see that people from different parts of the world are actually struggling with various problems caused by climate change and that they are advocating for their rights and a greater attention.” -Jennie Sun 15OX 17C


Emily Li

“COP isn't your average conference--it's not just attending talks (by NASA scientists and government policymakers), brainstorming in panels (about combatting climate skepticism, with youth activists from around the world), or networking (with global leaders in climate science research). The event is a testament to the widespread, prevailing nature of climate change, which is just as much ingrained in the feathers on the traditional garb of Native Americans discussing environmental justice, in the sculptures inspired by climate disasters, and in every bite of sustainable chocolate. For me, COP was all that and more--the opportunity to learn first-hand how world leaders, policymakers, and activists are approaching climate change so that in the future I, too, can be part of that solution.” -Emily Li 17C

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