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IU Northwest News

Notes of Distinction: November 2016

Tuesday Nov 01, 2016

Kalim Shah invited to panel by Wilson Center, nation’s premier forum for tackling global issues

When The Wilson Center, one of the top five public affairs think tanks in the world, recently assembled a panel of international experts to discuss  global climate change policy, it included  Indiana University Northwest’s Kalim Shah, Ph.D., assistant professor of public and environmental affairs.

Together with the United States Agency for International Development (USAID) and the World Bank, Shah, served as a panelist at a forum presented by the Washington, D.C. center in October, “Developing Climate Resilience: An Island Perspective.” The Wilson Center is the nation’s key non-partisan policy forum for tackling global issues through independent research and open dialogue to inform actionable ideas for the policy community.

Shah discussed how to develop climate-resilient island economies through effective agent interactions. Coincidentally, the talks took place as Hurricane Matthew was pummeling the coast.

“The backdrop of Matthew and worried thoughts of friends and family in the eastern Caribbean, Haiti, Florida and elsewhere in its path, served to accentuate the urgency of our talks,” Shah said. “The aftermath of Matthew's impacts again, unfortunately, splashed vivid color on the sometimes gray but necessary policy talks.”

During the discussion, Shah focused on islands as complex socio-ecological systems.

“Building climate resilience from this systems perspective requires us to examine the actions and interactions of two systems components: agents and institutions, as these are the components that create systems changes, both positive and negative,” Shah said. “While we work on optimizing the effectiveness of government, laws and regulations, as well as civil society, academia and the private sector, many innovative gains in efficiency and effectiveness can be derived from optimizing inter-agency relationships.”

Shah referenced case studies of this happening in island economics and summarized his findings of the critical characteristics and features that make these inter-agency relationships work to deliver sustainable positive results. These include: legitimacy, trust, responsiveness, resource dependencies and learning capacities, among others. Based on his research, Shah strongly advocates for more creative leveraging of private sector agents, their capabilities and resources, and incentives for their alignment to national development in ways that simultaneously increase competitiveness and build climate resilience.

Shah said that island nations are on the frontline of climate change impacts. He points to the hundreds of lives lost and the destruction left in the wake of Hurricane Matthew.

Kalim Shah, Associate Professor of Environmental Policy, IU Northwest

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