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LUMES alumni Sara Törnros path to climate change and resilience advisor at Plan International

Sara Törnros. Photo.
Sara Törnros Sara graduated from LUMES 2015 and today she works as a climate change and resilience advisor at Plan International, an international NGO working on children’s rights and equality for girls.

In the autumn, Sara Törnros from Batch 17, returned to the the LUMES programme – this time as a lecturer at the Resilience and Sustainable Development course. We took the opportunity to talk to her about her job as a climate change and resilience advisor at Plan International - and her best memories from the LUMES programme.

Tell us more about your job, what do you do as a climate change and resilience advisor?

I advise on four different thematic areas: environment, climate change, disaster risk reduction (DRR) and resilience. My role is very diverse, but it includes giving support to both development and humanitarian programmes across three continents; policy and advocacy work; develop new programme tools and models; provide trainings; and lead and advise on research initiatives. So basically, it can include everything from meeting political decision-makers to developing an environmental policy for the organization.

What were the most important skills you learnt in the LUMES programme?

I think it was more the way of thinking than practical skills. Thinking critically across disciplines throwing in some level of complexity and just getting used to being in a room with people from such diverse backgrounds was super valuable. I think it made me more humble and open-minded – before I thought more in black and white terms, now it’s all more a spectrum of grey.

I think it made me more humble and open-minded – before I thought more in black and white terms, now it’s all more a spectrum of grey.

 

How do you use these skills today?

In my job, I meet so many people on a daily basis everything from politicians to children from low-income countries, being able to really listen and understand their perspectives is absolutely vital for us to be able to achieve lasting and meaningful change. Also, (in case anyone didn’t think so) the NGO world is full of internal politics – being able to push your agenda in that space requires you to be able to argue your case while still being humble and pragmatic at the same time as you need to build strong relationships – all the discussions in the classroom definitely helped me prepare for that.

What is your best memory from the LUMES programme?

Well probably not a big surprise given what I do today, but I loved the elective courses on Resilience and Capacity Development – I just instantly felt like this is what I want to work with. To me, there is something fascinating with extreme weather and disasters and to be able to strengthen societies capacity to deal with disaster risks is what motivates me.

To me, there is something fascinating with extreme weather and disasters and to be able to strengthen societies capacity to deal with disaster risks is what motivates me.

Magnus Hagelsteen and Per Becker were also amazing teachers, both having so much energy and interesting experiences from their field work. I also loved Turaj Faran's classes, so many interesting discussions took place within that space.

What advice would you give future LUMES students?

I would try and get involved with extra-curricular work linked to the topics you want to work on while in the programme. It’s those things that makes you stand out on the job market nowadays as so many people have at least (!) one master’s degree. For me I did volunteer work, an internship, tutored and was part of a research project – hence when I graduated, I already had lots of relevant experience that I could put on my CV to complement my degree. Also, if you want to work internationally, look at jobs in places that not everyone applies for – that will both give you a better chance at getting the job but also really interesting experiences. My first job was working as a research analyst focusing on South Sudan, (although given the security situation in Juba at that time, I was stationed in Egypt).