Laura Kuhl is an assistant professor in the School of Public Policy and Urban Affairs and the International Affairs Program. Her research examines climate adaptation and resilience in developing countries. Prior to Northeastern, she completed a post-doctoral fellowship at the Center for International Environment and Resource Policy at the Tufts University Fletcher School, where she helped establish a new research partnership with the United Nation Development Program (UNDP) on climate policy in developing countries. She has studied innovation, technology transfer and adoption for adaptation as well as mainstreaming adaptation in development policy in East Africa and Central America. Current projects also address climate information and early warning systems, coastal resilience, adaptation finance, and national adaptation plans. She has conducted fieldwork in Ethiopia, Honduras, Colombia, Peru, Ecuador and New England and has collaborated with the Global Environment Facility (GEF), United States Agency for International Development (USAID) and UNDP. She has a PhD and MALD in international affairs from the Fletcher School, Tufts University, and a BA in environmental studies and anthropology from Middlebury College.
Areas of Expertise (4)
Peter Ackerman Award (professional)
Outstanding doctoral dissertation demonstrating scholarly merit, originality, and contribution to the field and to society, The Fletcher School (2017)
Fletcher School, Tufts University: MALD, International Affairs
Fletcher School, Tufts University: PhD, International Affairs
Middlebury College: BA, Environmental Studies and Anthropology
Media Appearances (1)
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Market systems interventions are an increasingly common approach to agricultural development. While the impacts of these interventions on poverty reduction and market participation by smallholders has been studied, little is known about their contributions to building climate resilience. This paper analyzes the compatibility of market systems and climate resilience approaches to agricultural development, using the United States government’s Feed the Future program as an empirical case study. Drawing on case studies in Ethiopia and Honduras, the paper examines the synergies and tensions between market systems and climate resilience approaches. The study finds that the market systems interventions have contributed to climate resilience, but also evidence of significant limitations due to fundamental tensions between market system and resilience approaches in terms of what their goals are, who they target, and how they approach their objectives. This study has important implications for the design and implementation of climate resilience programs and policies, as well as the expectations that agricultural development programs will be able to build climate resilience. Recognizing the inherent tensions that exist between market systems approaches and resilience approaches and explicitly discussing the trade-offs between the goals, target audiences, and primary mechanisms of each approach would represent an important step forward if market systems programs are going to contribute to climate resilience.
Annual Review of Environment and Resources
Avery S. Cohn, Peter Newton, Juliana D.B. Gil, Laura Kuhl, Leah Samberg, Vincent Ricciardi, Jessica R. Manly, and Sarah Northrop
Hundreds of millions of the world's poorest people directly depend on smallholder farming systems. These people now face a changing climate and associated societal responses. We use mapping and a literature review to juxtapose the climate fate of smallholder systems with that of other agricultural systems and population groups. Limited direct evidence contrasts climate impact risk in smallholder agricultural systems versus other farming systems, but proxy evidence suggests high smallholder vulnerability. Smallholders distinctively adapt to climate shocks and stressors. Their future adaptive capacity is uncertain and conditional upon the severity of climate change and socioeconomic changes from regional development. Smallholders present a greenhouse gas (GHG) mitigation paradox. They emit a small amount of CO2 per capita and are poor, making GHG regulation unwarranted. But they produce GHG-intensive food and emit disproportionate quantities of black carbon through traditional biomass energy. Effectively accounting for smallholders in mitigation and adaption policies is critical and will require innovative solutions to the transaction costs that enrolling smallholders often imposes. Together, our findings show smallholder farming systems to be a critical fulcrum between climate change and sustainable development.
Fletcher School of Law and Diplomacy (Tufts University)
Innovation, or human adaptations to changing needs and socio-economic conditions, is at the heart of the process of climate adaptation, but adaptation has rarely been studies from an innovation perspective. This dissertation analyzes how different types of agricultural adaptation efforts contribute to innovation for adaptation, leading to more effective adaptation and the development of policies to manage a transition to a climate-resilient future. Through case studies of agricultural adaptation in Ethiopia and Honduras, three major research questions are addressed: 1) the relationships among technology adoption, climate vulnerability, and resilience for smallholder farmers and the factors that influence the technology transfer and adoption process for climate adaptation, 2) the extent and ways agricultural development programs have addressed climate resiliencen and the tensions or barriers for mainstreaming climate resilience in such programs, and 3) how existing innovation systems theories apply to adaptation, how these insights can be synthesized into an analytical framework for innovation for adaptation, and how the framework can be applied in the analysis of national innovation systems.
William R. Moomaw, Rishikesh Ram Bhandary, Laura Kuhl, Patrick Verkooijen
Achieving sustainable development and meeting the UN Sustainable Development Goals requires that there be an effective process of negotiating and implementing sustainable development policies and practices. This paper characterizes an evolving approach that we define as sustainable development diplomacy. Based on an analysis of the history of climate governance as a case study of sustainable development diplomacy and drawing on a diverse range of literatures including international negotiations, global environmental governance, and socio‐ecological systems, it identifies seven diagnostics that can be used to evaluate the negotiation and implementation of sustainable development goals. We argue for a needs‐based approach that brings together diverse stakeholders to devise flexible solutions that fit the complexity and scale of sustainable development challenges. We illustrate the diagnostic elements with examples from our case study of climate change, as one of the major global sustainable development challenges, but the diagnostics have wider applicability to sustainable development diplomacy and practice more generally.
Journal of Contemporary Water Research & Education
Laura Read, Laura Kuhl
Problems that require risk management are usually cross‐disciplinary in nature, which makes it difficult to educate students and professionals on common language, skills, and strategies. Recognition of the interdisciplinary nature of many water challenges in terms of quality, allocation, future supply, infrastructure, damages, etc. has led to the establishment of interdisciplinary graduate water programs. Motivated by experience in an interdisciplinary water program at Tufts University, this paper argues that explicit coverage of the subject of risk is an important component of an interdisciplinary water training program, and that understanding risk should be a core competency of a water professional. The literature on water education is reviewed, particularly regarding the core competencies of an interdisciplinary water professional. Existing interdisciplinary water graduate programs are also surveyed to identify if, and how, risk features in their program descriptions or curriculums. Our analysis found that risk was not mentioned as a core competency or key issue in any of the literature on interdisciplinary water education or training, and featured in only a few program descriptions or curriculums. Based on this analysis, we conclude that there is a significant need to address risk more centrally and explicitly in interdisciplinary water programs.