Harland's climate challenge


My name is Harland Rivas Cooper, an ethnic Miskito, born and brought up on the Honduran Mosquito Coast. Now living and working in Leeds, United Kingdom. 

As many of you will already know, I have a dream for a long time, and that is to undertake research that will contribute to better environmental management in Central America. I am looking particularly at water and at climate change. There's no lack of rain in the region! but in most cities there, people don't have reliable drinking water. Climate change is likely to increase stress on water resources (as well as many other challenges).

I'm also looking at medium-sized cities. Most attention is on the capitals and the megacities. But many people live in fast-growing medium-sized cities - with climate change making farming harder and driving people out of rural areas into the towns. So cities outside the capital need help too!

I have just this week been accepted to study for a PhD at The University of Leeds. I hope to learn how people can be brought together for better water resource management and climate change adaptation in medium-sized Central American cities - and to spread this knowledge in the region, and further afield.

I know first hand that water management and climate change adaptation are both serious challenges for the region. I grew up there, and have worked in forestry and in community development in Honduras, Guatemala, Nicaragua and the Peruvian Amazon.  My MSc research focussed on the impact of Hurricane Mitch (1998) on natural and sustainably managed forests on the North Coast of Honduras. I believe that my proposed research into climate change adaptation and preparedness in medium-sized Central American cities could make a significant difference to policy-making, both in that region and more widely in Latin America.

My supervisors are enthusiastic about my research, but official funding is in short supply! I've not given up, however - I'm determined to make my work succeed. So I’ve reached the conclusion that the only way forward is for me to enrol as a “self-funded” student, which means relying in part on a student loan, and partly on support from friends and family.

During conversations with many of you over the years about my plans, the idea of crowdfunding has come up time and time again. So I have finally decided to take the plunge and go for it!

I’ve set up a GoFundMe page and am looking to raise £18,000, which will cover university fees (for 3 years) and travel costs, both to and within Central America. 

If you feel able to support me by making a donation, however small, I would greatly appreciate it. I know that money can be tight, but if lots of people give a little, that will help me get closer to my goal! Also please feel free to share this link with anyone else you think might be interested in supporting me.

Let me know if you have any questions and I’ll be happy to answer them.


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Harland Rivas Cooper 
Leeds, Yorkshire and the Humber, United Kingdom

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