Exchange Matters / April 25, 2023

Climate Change and the Importance of Global Conservation Efforts

Compiled by Julia Jones, Communications Intern, Global Ties U.S. 

This April, the Global Ties Network reflected on the impact of people-to-people exchanges like the International Visitor Leadership Program (IVLP) and how they can work towards spreading awareness about climate change, renewable energy, and different ecosystems. In the snapshots below, Global Ties Miami reflects on an IVLP project that took them to one of the largest mangrove swamps in the world in order to learn more about the conservation efforts in that area; Global Ties ABQ shares a project involving green building in urban areas; and the Vermont Council of World Affairs discusses a project focused on community-led solutions to combat climate change.  

Visitors pose for a group photo during their field tour of mangrove restoration sites at Biscayne Bay National Park. Image provided by Global Ties Miami

Global Ties Miami
IVLP: Mangrove Ecosystem Management and Environmental Protection 
NPA: Meridian International Center 
By Tamara Garcia, Director of IVLP Operations & Alexandra Ruiz, IVLP Program Manager  

With South Florida being home to one of the largest mangrove swamps in the world, naturally at Global Ties Miami, we are always thrilled to welcome visitors from countries where these unique shrubs and trees can also be found. Last December, we welcomed the “Mangrove Ecosystem Management and Environmental Protection” project for six experts from countries across Africa.  

The visitors had the opportunity to meet with mangrove researchers and experts at the University of Miami’s Rosenstiel School of Marine & Atmospheric Science, as well as at Biscayne National Park. However, we also wanted to give the visitors the opportunity to hear from other unique voices and discover their relationships with mangroves.   

The Seminole Tribe of Florida has been in the Everglades since the 19th century, maintaining an intricate relationship with the nature that surrounds them. At the tribe’s Big Cypress Reservation, the visitors learned about Seminole history and how they, as a nation, have had to constantly adapt their way of life due to the changes in the ecosystem and outside pressures.    

At another meeting, the visitors met Will Charouhis, a young environmentalist who founded the nonprofit Forces of Nature at age 13 to provide adaptations and mitigations for disaster-ridden coastal areas, including restoration of mangroves along Florida’s coastline. During their visit with Will, the visitors learned about his efforts to engage the young people of Miami to protect the mangroves. He walked them through his restoration process, from growing mangroves as seedlings to replanting them on the coastline. The visitors were touched to meet a young student working to protect the environment and encouraged him to continue with his efforts.   

Global Ties Miami is proud of our local resources and the vast network of professionals who are ready to say, “Yes, we’d love to meet with international visitors!” Climate resilience cannot be achieved without the collective efforts of these passionate voices, both in south Florida and around the world. Witnessing these lightbulb moments between visitors and community partners makes all the difference. 

IVLP participants of the Environmental Protection, Green Building, and Urban Planning: A Project for Arab Mayors meet with Saif Ismail, Energy and Sustainability Division Manager, City of Albuquerque. Along the wall is the B.R.A.I.N., an innovative data tool that allows the City of Albuquerque to monitor and optimize utility use across 600+ different facilities in real time. Image provided by Global Ties ABQ

Global Ties ABQ
IVLPs: Climate Exchange; Innovation in U.S. Energy and Transportation Sectors; and Environmental Protection, Green Building, and Urban Planning
NPAs: CRDF Global and Meridian International Center
By Michael Garlid, Programs Officer 

Here in the southwest, Global Ties ABQ is no stranger to climate change. New Mexico has seen increased destruction by wildfires, increased water scarcity, and greater flood risks brought on by the changing climate. Supporting global efforts to combat climate change starts at a micro level before reaching a macro scope of impact. At Global Ties ABQ, we have connected International Visitor Leadership Program (IVLP) participants with local climate activists, and engaged with businesses, NGOs, and impactful political leaders to discuss how our communities are adapting to climate change and working to heal our planet. 

Between December 2022 and March 2023, Global Ties ABQ welcomed three different IVLP delegations on climate and sustainability related programs. Climate Exchange: Adaptation & Justice in December 2022 supported by Meridian International Center; Innovation in U.S. Energy and Transportation Sectors in December 2022 supported by CRDF Global; and Environmental Protection, Green Building, and Urban Planning: A Project for Arab Mayors in March 2023 supported by Meridian International Center. Each of these programs hit different areas of Albuquerque and the region’s climate action through unique perspectives, including from the Navajo Nation’s Climate Change Program. 

New Mexico continues to stand out to our international visitors for its sense of community and authentic approach to collaboration. Nowhere was this more visible than in meetings between IVLP participants, Albuquerque’s Mayor Tim Keller, and the City of Albuquerque Energy and Sustainability Division Manager Saif Ismail. During a meeting with Saif for example, IVLP participants of our March 2023 Environmental Protection project learned about the B.R.A.I.N. Balanced Resource Acquisition and Information Network a first-of-its-kind tool for a municipal government, which allows the City of Albuquerque to monitor and optimize utility use across 600+ different facilities in real time. Visitors left the meetings impressed by Albuquerque’s dedication to sustainable city infrastructure through data driven improvements, and a renewed sense of global community. 

Global Ties ABQ is proud to be part of the capacity building efforts to empower local change at a global level. These IVLP programs represent the commitment of the greater Global Ties Network and the U.S. Department of State to sustainable development, and I am honored to be a part of this work. 


Participants gather outside with solar panels while exploring different ways to advance environmental conservation efforts. Image provided by VCWA

Vermont Council on World Affairs  

IVLP: Climate Change and Renewable Energy
NPA: Meridian International Center
By Marya Smith, Program Manager of Exchanges 

From March 2- 8, the Vermont Council on World Affairs welcomed an International Visitor Leadership Program (IVLP) delegation of experts from Europe participating in a “Climate Crisis: Working Together for Future Generations” project, organized with support from Meridian International Center. This cohort of experts are working to explore U.S. government programs, non-government strategies, and private-sector investments, programs, and initiatives being used to reduce greenhouse gas emissions, halt and reverse deforestation, pivot to clean energy, and support human and natural populations vulnerable to extreme weather disruptions and longer-term physical changes.  

Participants met with Glavel Inc, Former Burlington Mayor Peter Clavelle, SunCommon, U.S. Environmental Protection Agency Region 1, Burlington Electric Department, the University of Vermont Extension, One Tree Planted, the University of Vermont Rubenstein School, and Common Roots who shared their expertise and the tools being used to help combat climate change challenges and promote public engagements in environmental conservation. The group also had the opportunity to engage in home hospitality and join Vermont community members in their homes for a home-cooked Vermont meal! This was a wonderful exchange of culture, knowledge, and best practices that can be adopted to help combat the climate crisis.