Category Archives: Conference

Stephanie Swinehart ’19 attends Sustainable Ocean Summit

This past November, IPED graduate student Stephanie Swinehart represented Fordham at the 5 th Annual Sustainable Ocean Summit sponsored by the World Ocean Council, held in Halifax, Canada. The conference theme, “The Ocean Sustainable Development Goal (SDG 14): Business Leadership and Business Opportunities” centered on the interconnections between sustainable development, scientific innovation, and stewardship of the global ocean.

Stephanie in front of Halifax Harbor.

The realities of climate change are particularly pronounced for the oceans. Rising sea levels, acidification, and declining fish stocks all pose significant threats to the billions of people living near the coasts. Combined with a rising global population and changes in climate patterns across the world, the implications of climate change for the world’s most vulnerable population in terms of food security and climate migration are immense. The variety of issues discussed at the conference included ocean energy, illegal fishing, indigenous community rights, extractive industries, ocean pollution, arctic exploration, and ocean mapping/satellite technology.

Presentation on how extractive industries can responsibility contribute to the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).

“Economic development and poverty reduction do not have to be zero-sum, but all the stakeholders must be at the table. Forums like this, where industry and community meet, are critical to ensuring that businesses take into account those that don’t have a voice on the international stage,” writes Stephanie. Organizations present included the United Nations system (United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change and the Food and Agriculture Organization), government representatives from Small Island Developing States, and major oil and gas companies in addition to marine scientists and academics from universities around the world.

Lynn Kavanagh of the Global Ghost Gear Initiative talks about the discarded fishing gear that makes up 1/10 th of the world’s marine debris.

Representing 70% of the earth’s surface, protecting the world’s oceans is of critical importance and something to which each one of us can contribute. “These are not issues for discussion only at conferences or on a global stage”, reminds Stephanie, “but are actions we all must take as development practitioners.” Reducing single-use plastics (straws, to-go containers), energy consumption, and eating sustainably-caught seafood are all ways to make an individual impact. For more information on what you can do, please visit National Geographic or the Monterey Bay Aquarium Seafood Watch.

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IPED at the 2017 Concordia Summit

2017 Concordia Summit

On September 18th and 19th five IPED students, Brian Harper, Robyn Emory-Murray, Mohammed Rahman, Kelsey Garcia, and Jessica Way, attended the 2017 Concordia Summit in New York.

EPA Administrator Scott Pruitt and Fox News, The Five Co-host, Dana Pruitt

The 2017 Concordia Annual Summit was a 2-day convening of over 2,000 leaders, influencers and decision makers working to drive transformative action by building partnerships for social impact. Each year the Summit takes place at the beginning of the United Nations General Assembly Week. Videos of the summit for Day 1 and Day 2 are on Youtube.

Current and former First Ladies: Michel Sidibe, Laura Bush, H.E. Monica Geingos, Lorena Castillo

Rt. Honorable Tony Blair, Former Prime Minister of the U.K., and Susan Glasser, Colunist for POLITICO

“Within the span of several hours, we heard presidents and prime ministers, several First Ladies, and leaders in the public and private sectors from all over the world. A remarkable range of topics were covered, from the refugee crisis and global conflict to farming, climate change, hyper-partisanship, and information overload. Concordia was a great way to get a sense of the most pressing challenges and opportunities facing the world and to hear from some of the people who are at the forefront of efforts to address these issues.” – Brian Harper

Rob Fraley, World Food Prize Laureate, speaking on modern agriculture

“I really appreciated the diverse approaches to solving the world’s challenges that were represented, ranging from art to science and technology to policy solutions, as well as the contrasting viewpoints that were shared from both sides of the aisle.” – Kelsey Garcia

Cherie Blair, Andrew Forrest, Scott Price, Stuart Pann, and Richard Edelman on Modern Slavery

“I really appreciated the opportunity to listen to thought leaders in specific fields, whether that be intergovernmental poverty initiatives, the reality of modern slavery, or ways to use music and the arts to meet and solve global challenges. Diversity of thought can only speed the road to possible solutions for the biggest issues facing our world today.” – Robyn Emory-Murray

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African Youth Leadership Summit: Carlos Baeta Shares His Experience

Carlos Baeta, IPED Class of 2017

“One of the distinguishing features of the summit, I believe, is the level of engagement and unity that it inspired in all of us.”

Carlos with Summit colleagues

Last month, Carlos Baeta (IPED ’17) attended the African Youth Leadership Summit in Marrakech, Morocco. Through its partnership with the MasterPeace Organization and a competitive screening process, the summit brought together 180 young people from close to 30 African countries in order to engage in workshops and seminars focused on developing entrepreneurship, leadership and African unity and integration. A veteran of other youth leadership conferences, Carlos said that “the different experiences and solutions that my colleagues had developed and actioned-out” was what stood out the most.

This was a unique platform for so many diverse participants with a common goal to come together and engage in actionable discourse. Carlos writes, “I believe one of the greatest services that we could do for ourselves, our countries that we represented and our continent, was to be as engaged and open minded as possible. The potential to learn and grow increases significantly when you have people from different backgrounds and with different skillsets collaborating on finding nuanced solutions to the plethora of challenges and opportunities my continent has.” His coursework and experiences with IPED, he says, have helped him to frame his thoughts in such a way that he could participate with his colleagues in a meaningful and impactful manner.

When asked about a specific experience he wanted to share from the summit, Carlos had this to say: “I have never been to North Africa before or rather embarrassingly enough, interacted with people from countries such as Chad or Sudan for example. I would be remiss if I did not say that this experience is something that will be embedded in me for the rest of my life.”

Carlos and fellow attendees to the Summit

Carlos came to attend the Summit through his personal network, but says that there are a plethora of platforms such as OpportunitiesForAfricans on Facebook as well. “I would suggest signing up to pages and platforms to stay abreast with the best and latest opportunities.”

Carlos is a native of South Africa and grew up in the small town of Vryheid in rural Kwa Zulu Natal. He says, “I have always dreamt about travelling and experiencing different cultures and seeing different cities. Since I have begun my studies at Fordham, I have been fortunate enough to have travelled to four different countries and attend countless different seminars. It has been a dream come true for me and I can’t wait to one day use my cumulative experiences and skills to extend these types of opportunities to other young South Africans back home.”

Contributed by Carlos Baeta

Edited by Robyn Murray

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The Holy See And The Fight Against Human Trafficking: Falling Prey

On February 23, 2017, the US branch of the Vatican Foundation Centesimus Annus Pro Pontifice and Fordham University co-sponsored the inaugural lecture of the Cassamarca Foundation Chair in Migration and Globalization, titled: “The Holy See and the Fight Against Human Trafficking.” The conference examined the realities of human trafficking today, what is being done, and what opportunities there are going forward. 

The audience listening to Archbishop Auza’s lecture

Falling Prey: Human traffickers set their sights on refugees

In 2015, nearly 250 million people moved across international borders. Of these, over 60 million people moved as a result of war (i.e. forced migration), and many of these asylum seekers are being targeted by traffickers.

“Human Trafficking has found an advantageous environment in which to work. Refugees are willing to take any risk. They are vulnerable.” said Archbishop Bernardito Auza, Pope Francis’ Representative to the United Nations.

On February 23rd, Fordham University’s graduate program in International Political Economy and Development (IPED) hosted a Consultation on Human Trafficking at which Archbishop Auza served as the event’s keynote speaker. “How many persons are victims of human trafficking?” he asks. “The honest answer is that the number is staggering, and nobody really knows!”

Archbishop Bernardito Auza
Apostolic Nuncio, Permanent Observer of the Holy See to the
United Nations

Although there can be no definite numbers, the Archbishop shared estimates from a well-cited 2012 study by the International Labour Organization (ILO) that there are “about 21 million men, women and children who are trafficked, sold, coerced or subjected to conditions of slavery in various forms and in various sectors.” These figures continue to grow, especially in recent years, and as millions of refugees flee their homes, human traffickers are capitalizing on the opportunity.

“The flood of trafficking victims has multiple tributaries”, said Archbishop Auza, who shared that Pope Francis identifies four different causes to be economic, environmental, political, and ethical.

The Archbishop then offered two brief points for reflection: “First, the importance of a faith actively manifested in deeds. Pope Francis wants those who are religious to find in their faith the deepest motivation for leadership and involvement in this fight.”

“Second, deeds sustained by the hope that, together, we shall overcome.” As an example of overcoming such a colossal crime against human dignity, Archbishop Auza made reference to the historical politician and philanthropist, William Wilberforce, who was a leader of the movement to eradicate the slave trade in Britain.

“It took William Wilberforce only 20 years to end the British slave trade and only 30 more to abolish the slave trade across the globe, at a time when slavery was as accepted as natural as birth, marriage and death.”

Human trafficking must never be accepted. It is “a crime that’s occurring in our own backyards, it’s under our noses, and we cannot ignore it” said Archbishop Auza. He then went on to quote Pope Francis: “We must raise awareness of this new evil which, in the world at large, wants to be hidden since it is scandalous and ‘politically incorrect’.”

The Archbishop then concluded his remarks by exhorting the audience: “Let us bring that Wilberforce in each of us to bear in our fight against human trafficking and others forms of modern slavery.”

A written summary of the presentations and discussions from the Consultation on Human Trafficking will be sent to Rome as input for an international conference on human trafficking, to be held at the Vatican on May 18-20. For a full transcript of Archbishop Bernardito Auza’s speech at Fordham University, click here.


Written by: Owen Fitzgerald

Owen is a first-year student in Fordham University’s Graduate Program in International Political Economy & Development.

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Recap & Response: Poverty and Violence

On September 23, 2016, CAPP-USA and Fordham University co-sponsored a conference called “Pope Francis’ Call for Escaping Poverty: Practical Examples and New Proposals.” The conference examined the definition and measurement of poverty and proposed specific, practical efforts which operationalize Pope Francis’ insistence that people “be dignified agents of their own destiny.” What follows is the last in a series of posts authored by graduate students in Fordham University’s International Political Economy & Development Program that offer a summary and response to a topic discussed at the conference.


The last panel of the conference was devoted to the problem of poverty and violence. This sphere is vastly understudied and sometimes misunderstood, mainly because the exact causal relationship and means of measurements of poverty and violence are still unknown.

In order to understand the problem, it is important to have a clear definition of violence. Statistics show that nearly two billion people now live in countries where development outcomes are highly influenced by fragility of the state (World Bank), and by 2030 almost 50% of the world’s poorest will be living in a region affected by violence. However, when we talk about violence and development we shouldn’t forget that wars are not the only form of violence. The violence of everyday life is one of the biggest obstacles today, resulting in nearly 45 million people, including children, subject to some form of modern slavery. Finally, violence can include economic abuse of power, any form of domestic violence, land-grabbing, among other things.

Nicholas Michael, a member of UN negotiation team on Syria, introduced essential steps required to overcome the violence. He pointed to ten steps on how to solve the conflict and associate people:

  1. construct an open dialogue with civil society organizations;
  2. include women in sufficient number in the process (in addition to official delegations’ women representatives);
  3. consistently remind the parties of the conflict their obligations under the international humanitarian laws, international human rights, and criminal laws;
  4. encourage and assist people in starting business processes;
  5. develop responsible a media environment;
  6. relate to religious communities;
  7. design adequate accountability, truth telling, and reconciliation mechanisms in order to deal with the past and create a sustainable situation;
  8. reshape sanctions regime by lifting the sanctions that have no impact to solving the conflict and adversely affect civilians;
  9. assist the parties to agree on principals of a new constitution that will effectively protect human rights;
  10. and create conditions for the safe return of refugees to the country.

Armando Borja, Jesuit Refugee Service North America Regional Director, talked about how poverty can contribute to violence as the poor often have no other way to protect themselves except to fight. The main focus of his speech was on refugees and their impoverishments. Refugees often find themselves in the bottom economic level, being pushed to the limit, without access to health services, education, adequate nutrition. They also suffer from other consequences of poverty and, tragically, repeated displacement. One of the ways to effectively help them is through the provision of education as it is a vital lifesaving intervention that can provide means for better future. Simple hospitality informs how we can integrate refugees into the new communities.

The problem of violence and poverty is one of the hardest for mankind to solve. What level of poverty in the particular region triggers the violence? If there was an accurate answer to that question, perhaps, it would be easier to predict possible conflict and try to solve it before it evolved. On the other hand, violence, being an abuse of any power, can be hidden from society and thus contribute to the development of poverty. While the Fordham Francis Index does a great job determining different factors contributing to poverty, it barely touched the problem of violence. It would be interesting to try to conduct research including different types of violence and analyze how it might trigger poverty and vice versa. However, this type of data is hard to aggregate and comparisons are difficult, which leaves this important question open.

Liya Khalikova is a first-year student in Fordham University’s Graduate Program in International Political Economy & Development.

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