“Our which I undertook in Milan, Italy. I had

“Our problems are
man-made, therefore they may be solved by man. No problem of human destiny is
beyond human beings.” (JF Kennedy,1963)

 

The above statement by J.F.
Kennedy captures my perception of the capacity of human endeavor in addressing
our sustainability issues, especially with public policy as a principal
facilitator As an outstanding Chinese student with a multicultural background,
and academic qualifications from Japan’s top international university, I have
developed an active passion for the need to overcome transboundary social and
environmental problems by employing political science perspectives that unlock
sometimes short-sighted national positions.  The Harvard MPP program
offers the best opportunity for me to scale higher intellectual heights to
fulfill this dream.

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Given the afrmentioned interests,
I have sought opportunities to better understand the most instrumental contribution
I can make to this field while also gaining comprehensive exposure to public
service. My academic program allowed me the option of an exchange program,
which I undertook in Milan, Italy. I had my first internship in Brussels,
Belgium with a non-profit organization focused on marketing social innovations.
There, observing how failure in effective coordination between government
policy objectives and business interests led to conflicting actions, my
interest was piqued to study more on principles and effective implementation of
public policy when I returned to my bachelor’s studies in Japan.  I then
worked as a civil service intern at a Japanese Regional Bureau of Economy,
Trade and Industry, a rare insider opportunity to participate in a rather internally
deliberative agency. . During my last semester of university, I served as a
research intern at the United Nations University Institute of Advanced Studies
(UNU-IAS) for half a year on a project to investigate the potential impact of
information communication technology (ICT) on sustainable development. 
Following my graduation I started on-job-training as a research and policy
assistant at the Japan-based think-tank called Institute for Global
Environmental Strategies (IGES), taking a key role in policy  analysis in
development of an international framework and co-benefit approach to promote
air pollution control in East Asia.

 

I attribute the success I had in
these roles to my strong quantitative analysis and problem solving
skills.  Through my experiences at the Bureau of Economy Trade and
Industry in Kyushu, UNU-IAS and IGES, I have exhibited and acquired strong
prioritization, organization and other management skills. In addition, from my
leadership experience at college, as shown on my CV, I have proven my ability
to build relationships and work collaboratively to identify solutions and
resolve problems. This acumen is further testified by the outstanding academic
excellence award for my bachelor’s thesis on the basis of data that I gathered
and analysed from numerous visits to some of China’s best-known bamboo product
manufactures and research agencies. I understand a certain amount of full-time
working experience is important as preparation for this academic program. In a
traditional sense of things, perhaps my CV does not reflect that much work
experience, however, the intense and comprehensive variety of defining work
experiences I have had, only surpassed by my determination and active passion
for using public policy as a means towards effective solutions are guarantees
that I am fully focused to be a part of the MPP program, and this time.

 

Born and raised in the world’s
largest emerging economy, I have studied and experienced firsthand the dilemma
faced by rapidly developing countries on the optimal tradeoff between
environmental quality and growth. But this is not always a tradeoff; the
either-or attitude often results from limited understanding of the nature of
the problem. In fact, research analyses demonstrate a clear correlation between
a healthy environment, social well-being and long-term economic health. Quite
often these issues are seen through the lens of national interest – where
immediate national paths seem to be at loggerheads with long-term global
interests.  Such views have influenced the way (national) public policies
are designed to respond to environmental problems.

 

The issue of severe air pollution
in Asia is a case in point. Due to the mobility of air pollutants, pollution
from one country can always affect populations in surrounding countries. Recent
events of serious dust and sand storms, and high concentrations of ozone in
East Asia suggest that an effective cooperative regional framework is urgently
needed. In reality, international frameworks for regional cooperation and
strategies for emissions reduction have been developed before: the Convention
on Long-range Transport of Air Pollution (LRTAP Convention) and its control
protocols for Europe and North America; the Acid Deposition Monitoring Network
in East Asia (EANET); ASEAN Agreement on Transboundary Haze Pollution;
Transboundary Air Pollution Management Initiative by Male Declaration for South
Asia, etc all served in ushering a new paradigm in international governance for
transboundary air pollution. However, faced with problems such as overlapping
frameworks, disagreements over data sources and calculation methods,
insufficient scope of activities and competition over leadership, the progress
of development in existing international cooperation frameworks are limited and
slow.

 

Critical to this failure is the
lack of understanding and reflection of participating countries’ domestic
administrative systems and capacities in order to design integrated, effective
international measures for monitoring and reducing  transboundary air
pollution. One such country is China, where I come from, notable for its unique
governance system and opaque decision-making processes, and yet a country with
one of the most severe cases of air pollution and contribution to global
greenhouse gas emissions. Yet China’s growing economic influence and
contribution to global environmental pollution requires it to take a leading
role in addressing these environmental problems. For China, however, the
either-or approach and the national-interest mindset present a bind: enforcing
stringent environmental standards (e.g. for pollution control) would exclude
small and medium size enterprises (SMEs) and the informal business sector – two
very important areas for developing countries – from participating in the
broader economic system, and rather favor foreign, transnational corporations
that often have the advantages of capital availability, experience and the
expensive technologies needed to address the problems. How can this duality of
national interests and global responsibilities be reconciled? Is it a win-loose
situation – and, if so, who is the winner and who is the looser – not only in
the short term but also in the long term?

 

As a Chinese representative who
has been fully immersed in research on Regional Air Pollution and Promotion of
Air Pollution Management in East Asia from Japan’s Ministry of the Environment,
and having been exposed to similar perspectives in Italy, and Belgium, I feel
honored working with and learning from motivated science and policy pioneers,
but I also feel frustrated by the simplistic sometimes inaccurate analysis of
China’s complex administrative architecture addressing air pollution.

 

Through rigorous training,
education, professional experiences, I have effectively integrated core
elements of business management, environmental policy, quantitative analysis
and research towards more effective models of policy design and practice. But I
also realize I am not well equipped; the Harvard MPP program is therefore key
to my aspirations. I firmly believe that armed with knowledge and skills
provided by this program, I can make a substantial contribution to China’ s
role in emerging environmental governance, and also serve as an active agent in
bridging it to the larger global aspirations of sustainability.   In
the long run, after having completed the MPP program, and having had even more
work experience, I plan to further my education to a PhD in Political Science
PhD, and to engaging in an active serving career for public good.

 

Having looked at some of the
faculty profiles, Professor Rema Hanna is an example of a match I could work
with.

 

 

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