Hi All, the YSEALI Professional Fellows Program has been going great. Today, I am happy to share about my experience working with colleagues at the Washington Metropolitan Council of Governments (WMCOG) over the last 2.5 weeks to give everyone a sense of what COG does and what our research project here entails.
Melissa & Mai at COG
Skype call with Maia Davis before departing our cities for Washington, D.C.
When Mai and I first arrived at COG, our colleague Maia Davis (whom we had already Skyped before flying out to Washington, D.C.) showed us around and did some introductions. We met with colleagues from the water, transport and environment departments and found out a little about what they all were working on. On 3 May, we did our introductory presentations and shared with everyone about the work we do back home and our hopes and expectations for our time at COG. For me, this included gaining enhanced research skills and have a better understanding of U.S. local government’s role in addressing environmental sustainability efforts, and best practices for tackling issues such as climate change; and the role of bringing area leaders together to address major regional environmental issues i.e. the work of MWCOG. I expressed that I also wished to make some friends and to continue staying in touch with COG colleagues and to keep updated on the happenings here even after having gone home.
We also met with some of the HR personnel and those in communications, which put out a neat press release on the day we arrived!
Check out the COG press release about our arrival here: COG Hosts International Fellows to Exchange Environmental Sustainability Best Practices
Entrance to COG
On 3 May, we did our introductory presentations and shared with everyone about the work we do back home and our hopes and expectations for our time at COG. For me, this included gaining enhanced research skills and have a better understanding of U.S. local government’s role in addressing environmental sustainability efforts, and best practices for tackling issues such as climate change; and the role of bringing area leaders together to address major regional environmental issues i.e. the work of MWCOG. I expressed that I also wished to make some friends and to continue staying in touch with COG colleagues and to keep updated on the happenings here even after having gone home.
In my time spent here, I’ve been working towards all of these goals but definitely not without the help of COG colleagues Maia, Jeff and Steve who have been instrumental in setting up and driving us to meetings, summits, forums, conferences, site visits etc. and who have taken such care to explain issues and contexts to us.
DC Water Tour organized by COG
Melissa & Mai at the EE Global Forum 2016 at the Walter E. Washington Convention Center
As some of you know, when we first started our time here at COG, Washington, D.C. was hosting Climate Action Week. We had the privilege of attending the first day for the Climate Action Forum (see earlier blog post) and listening to Senator Ben Cardin and former Congressman and Senator Tim Wirth.
At the Energy Efficiency Global Forum last week organized by the Alliance to Save Energy, I also got to listen to Senator Chris Coons and Senator Rob Portman speak about bi-partisan energy legislation bills, which was for me extremely fascinating. I got to hear about the challenges it took to get the S.535 Energy Efficiency Improvement Act of 2015 passed and also about the Shaheen-Portman Energy Savings and Industrial Competitiveness Act which is said to spur the use of energy efficiency technologies in the residential, commercial, and industrial sectors of the U.S. economy, while also fostering job creation. So in fact, in a short span of 2 weeks, I've already heard 4 Senators speak!
Apart from attending external events over the last 2.5 weeks, we also have some research work to do here at COG. Our research project for COG is to find replicable best practices for Metropolitan Washington, with a focus on the Clean Tech Economy, Energy Efficiency, Renewable Energy, Resiliency and Finance as a cross-cutting issue. The goal is to present best practices from around the world to the Climate, Energy and Environment Policy Committee (CEEPC) Board on 25 May.
We have chosen to work on cities and regions in Asia and have also been assigned some by Maia. Mai and I chose Kyoto, Japan and Shenzhen, China respectively and we will also be working on some best practices from our own cities of Da Nang City, Vietnam and Singapore. The other cities and regions include the Australian Capital Territory, Wales, Lombardy Region in Italy, Quebec, Alberta, Province of British Colombia and the Aquitaine Region in France. We’ve created a template and are working hand-in-hand to fill in the aspirational goals and various policies and measures that these cities and regions have implemented or are in the process of implementing.
On our part, we have to take care to understand the culture and context of local governments and the jurisdictions under the care of COG so that our research will be helpful to them as they begin discussions in order to update the next edition of CEEPC’s Regional Climate and Energy Action Plan. At the meeting, COG will provide an overview on the status of goals and actions in the 2016 Action Plan and will review the status of work to develop consensus around Multi-Sector Work Group goals.
As International Professional Climate Fellows working with COG, Mai and I have been tasked to share our recommendations on replicable national and international practices that CEEPC could consider for the Action Plan update. Following this, CEEPC will be asked to adopt the 2017 – 2020 Action Plan by the end of 2016.
Just two days ago, we sat in for COG's regular Air and Climate Public Advisory Committee (ACPAC) meeting. ACPAC advises on air quality, climate and energy issues to policy committees of COG and also advises the Metropolitan Washington Air Quality Committee (MWAQC) on air quality planning and CEEPC on climate and energy issues and initiatives. So, much of the discussion in that meeting was helpful in setting the context for our presentation to CEEPC in a week. It was also great to meet some of the committee members and see and listen first hand to their conviction and commitment to ensuring that schools and the public are being provided with enough information and especially the process by which buy-in, ownership and credibility of policies and initiatives are created and built through this committee process.
So, with that I hope I’ve given you a better picture of what we are working on at COG. :)
And to all Fellows, enjoy your final week at your host places and looking forward to seeing everyone back in D.C. real soon!