This summer, the Environmental Finance Center is taking its interest in how environmental projects are funded on the road through a three-week Applied International Environmental Finance program in Quito, Ecuador. The EFC, in collaboration with TripleSalto –a nonprofit organization that generates integral solutions to social, environmental, and economic needs through strategic alliances – decided to sponsor this course based on growing interest in applied international environmental finance projects among current Public Administration, Public Health, and Environmental Engineering Masters students at UNC-Chapel Hill.
The course consists of multiple components, all of which bring students, researchers and environmental professionals together to discuss financial aspects of environmental projects and services. First, students are introduced to fundamentals of environmental finance and governance while working hand-in-hand with volunteers and technical staff from CONQUITO, Quito’s municipal economic development agency, to plan and build a greenhouse and install a drip irrigation system in one of the highly urbanized neighborhoods of Quito. Following the service project, students will meet with a group of Ecuadorean students to learn about current environmental projects and services in Quito and beyond. Each student is also carrying out individual research on a specific environment finance topic. Student research ranges from how regulatory services like permitting and water quality monitoring are paid for, to the use of crowd funding to support distributed environmental infrastructure. Students will share their findings with governmental officials and local non-profits to establish a sustainable funding mechanism for future applied environmental programs.
Throughout the program, students explore financial, political, governance, and socio-economic challenges of financing environmental services. Check back soon to learn more about the students’ experiences in Ecuador and read MPA student Megan Garrett’s recap of the group’s first week in Ecuador.
Francine Stefan is the Assistant Program Manager at the EFC, and is an incoming MPA student at UNC-Chapel Hill.