UA Alumni: Lyndsay Walsh
Lyndsay was the Global Winner in the Earth & Environmental Sciences category in 2018.
She is presently completing her Masters in Development Practice (MDP) in Trinity College Dublin, and finishing up her thesis which is on the topic of the possibility of a just transition in the agricultural sector of Ireland.
Can you explain a bit more on what a just transition is?
A just transition basically means ensuring that no community or person is left behind as we transition to a more environmentally-friendly and ‘green’ society. Climate justice is an area that I am super passionate about and while the just transition has been gaining increased attention in recent years, it is mostly discussed in relation to ending fossil-fuel dependence.
Another important activity we need to transition away from is industrialised and unsustainable farming, yet there is very little research on this topic – so I am super excited to be researching it myself! Particularly in my home country of Ireland, where over 30% of our emissions are from agriculture!
Where do your interests lie?
My main interest is environmental protection through environmental policymaking – the career I would ideally like to enter into.
During my studies I have had the opportunity to undertake a variety of research placements, such as conducting research for Oxfam Ireland on women’s economic empowerment programmes and researching sustainable fisheries in the Peruvian Amazon last summer!
I have just finished up a five-month placement with the United Nations Climate Change Capacity-building Team (long title – sorry!), who are responsible for helping low- and middle-income countries build their capacity to reduce emissions and adapt to climate change, which was really fascinating.
I also love being outdoors (sunshine helps), bingeing TV series (even pre-COVID) and birds! My Undergraduate dissertation (for which I won the 2018 UA for Global Winner) was on birds in a protected reserve in Mexico and as part of this I got to study birds in the Mexican jungle! I liked birds before that but this experience was next level – waking up at 4.30 am every morning was so worth it when we would be catching Toucans in mist nets beside Mayan ruins. One of the best experiences I have ever had!
What are you doing now and what has happened since the award?
I am finishing up my two-year Masters and then – hopefully becoming employed? Since the award, I have had the opportunity to do some pretty cool things. I was the inaugural winner of the IMF’s graduate essay competition and was invited to speak at the IMF-World Bank meetings in Washington as a 2019 ‘Young Leader’ on the topic of climate change and inequality.
Additionally, I was awarded the 2019 “Outstanding Achievement Award” for my work as an Irish Climate Ambassador, where I reached over one million people through written communications, workshops and speaking events.
I am currently part of the G20 ‘Young Global Changers’ program which brings passionate young people from all over the world together to debate current issues and come up with solutions to present to political leaders and policymakers.
Have you done something fun?
As part of my internship with the UN I moved to Bonn in Germany for a grand total of … 3 weeks. Sadly, COVID-19 hit pretty much as soon as I moved over and I had to continue working remotely for the majority of the placement but it was a great learning experience all the same.
Has receiving an award for your hard work helped?
Receiving this award gave me confidence in my research abilities and the opportunity to meet with some amazing young academics from all over the world! We also had the chance to listen to an array of fantastic speakers at the awards.
One that really stood out for me was Dr. Ebun Joseph, who gave the keynote address in my year on her experience researching racism in Ireland, I remember the whole room being encapsulated the moment she started speaking.
Why should students submit their work?
I would definitely encourage undergraduates to submit their coursework to the Undergraduate Awards – they really have nothing to lose from it! They have already done the hard part, the actual writing and analysis, and this is a chance to have that hard work recognised and to maybe even get to attend the amazing summit. In all of the interviews I have done since they have picked up on the award and been really impressed.