Conrad Buffier shapes future climate policy at a global student challenge

04 March 2024

Conrad Buffier, a PhD scholar from the Crawford School, recently embarked on a journey as a participant in the 2024 Raisina-IE Global Student Challenge. It is a prestigious challenge that is aimed to engage future leaders in global governance discussions with the 2024 theme “The International Climate Change Regime”. It is organised by the IE School of Politics, Economics & Global Affairs alongside the Observer Research Foundation (ORF).

During the Challenge, his team, comprising students from Spain, Chile, and Ethiopia, collaborated virtually for three weeks before converging at the Raisina Dialogue, India’s flagship conference on geopolitics and geoeconomics. Together, under the guidance of Assistant Professor Robert Mizo from the School of Social Sciences at the University of Delhi, they focused on “Systems Transformation”, proposing an enhanced global governance framework to address climate change and biodiversity loss. The team aimed to enhance the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) governance arrangements, including through proposals to better integrate climate and biodiversity financing, and establish better coordination via a new Regionally Determined Contribution (RDC) framework to support cross-border collaboration on emission reductions.

Despite not winning the first phase of the Challenge, Conrad’s team is excited for the next phase where the five teams cooperate to bring together a final integrated proposal, drawing on the best aspects of each team’s work.

Reflecting on his experience, Conrad highlighted the strength of interdisciplinary collaboration in tackling complex global issues. “I was really struck by the power of bringing together people from different backgrounds and different experience bases. We approached issues from different perspectives, which helped us to come up with innovative solutions,” he added. Conrad also noted the short timeline and young age of participants as catalysts for innovative solutions.

Representing the Crawford School among top institutions worldwide, Conrad shared his excitement, calling it a “real surprise and honour” to be part of such a significant initiative. Adding, “One of the best things about my PhD program at the Crawford School so far has been all the interesting and often unexpected opportunities I’ve had to participate in activities and initiatives that go beyond my PhD.”

Professionally, Conrad intends to integrate the ideas generated from the challenge into his work at the Federal Department of Climate Change, Energy, the Environment, and Water (DEECCW). With a keen focus on climate policy success factors, Conrad’s research at the Crawford School underlines his commitment to driving impactful change through climate policy design.

Conrad also shared his drive behind pursuing a PhD at Crawford, saying, “Having worked on climate policy development in the Commonwealth Government for the last 15 years, I’ve seen firsthand how the initial design of a policy can affect its trajectory. My sense is this dynamic will be really important going forward as countries start to ramp up their domestic climate change mitigation policy instruments to deliver on the recent wave of 2050 net zero commitments. So, when the opportunity emerged to undertake a PhD at the Crawford School on how initial climate policy design can support later upscaling, I didn’t hesitate. I’ve had a fantastic first 12 months of my PhD program under Professor Llewelyn Hughes as my primary supervisor, and Professor Frank Jotzo and Associate Professor Rebecca Colvin as my associate supervisors.”

Conrad offers a final message for any potential future PhD candidates, “One of the strengths of the Crawford School’s PhD program is the great coursework offered in the first year. It’s fully geared towards helping candidates refine their research questions and identify good research methodologies. I’ve never done coursework that is so immediately applicable!”

Congratulations, Conrad, from all of us at Crawford, for representing us on this global platform and contributing to meaningful discussions on climate change!

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Updated:  26 April 2024/Responsible Officer:  Crawford Engagement/Page Contact:  CAP Web Team