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EPSRC Centre for Doctoral Training in Future Infrastructure and Built Environment: Resilience in a Changing World (FIBE2)


Talk Title: Climate adaptation infrastructure in the Maldives

Talk Summary: The Maldives has made it into the international consciousness for being one of the most popular luxury tourism destinations — for offering visitors “the sunny side of life.” But it is also one of the most vulnerable countries to sea-level rise. In an effort to keep the country above water and thriving, the government is investing billions into land reclamation. This involves dredging sand from the ocean and piling it up to create new land. The justification is largely economic, but it’s also meant to help the vulnerable country defend its coasts against rising seas. However, many say that the costs aren’t worth the ecological and economic damage. I went to the Maldives in November to investigate one of the most recent land reclamation projects. This presentation will dig into these justifications and examine the consequences of massive infrastructure manipulation.

Speaker Bio: Jesse Chase-Lubitz is a freelance climate journalist based in London. She is a Pulitzer grantee and writer of Nature Briefing: Anthropocene, a weekly newsletter for Nature Magazine about the footprint of humans on Earth. Jesse also writes for Al Jazeera, Bloomberg, Yahoo News, Foreign Policy, The American Prospect and others. She recently completed an MSc in Environmental Policy and Regulation at the London School of Economics, where she conducted original research into Dutch sea-level rise adaptation architecture within the Netherlands and Indonesia. She also worked for the Department of Geography and the Environment at LSE, assisting with research on a project called Power and Equity in the Production of Climate Knowledge.

In 2019, she worked for a year at The Japan Times in Tokyo as a Henry Luce Scholar, where she wrote on immigration and climate change policies in Japan. She worked a short stint at Inside World Trade, where she covered the nexus of climate and trade policy. Prior to that, she reported on agriculture and trade for Politico, and researched corruption and human smuggling networks in the Balkans for the Organized Crime and Corruption Reporting Project in Sarajevo, Bosnia and Herzegovina. Her career began at Foreign Policy as an American Society of Magazine Editors awardee.

Jesse received her MSc in Environmental Policy and Regulation with distinction from the London School of Economics; and she earned her B.A. as a double major in evolutionary biology and history from Columbia University, where she graduated Summa Cum Laude, Phi Beta Kappa. In addition to independent freelancing, Jesse co-writes a weekly newsletter on climate change adaptation infrastructure called Edifice.

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