Raghuveer Vyas (Class of 2016): Advocating for change and development | Aga Khan Academies

Raghuveer Vyas (Class of 2016): Advocating for change and development

Raghuveer Vyas graduated from the Aga Khan Academy Mombasa in 2016 with a desire to be a change-maker in our world. Due to his experience at AKA Mombasa, this desire has become a reality.  

Raghuveer Vyas, far right, at a UN Initiative event at NYU.“My time at the Academy undoubtedly influenced where I am now,” Raghuveer said. “The Academy's strong emphasis on contributing back to society certainly further influenced my academic choices.” 

Raghuveer pursued his undergraduate degree at New York University (NYU) in Global Liberal Studies with a concentration in Politics, Rights & Development. Currently during his final year, Raghuveer was admitted into NYU’s Bachelor of Arts (BA)/Master of Arts (MA) programme.  

“Through this programme I hope to graduate with an MA in International Relations by 2021,” Raghuveer said. “I will be concentrating on Sub-Saharan African affairs and peace and conflict resolution in the International Relations programme.”  

Since joining NYU, Raghuveer has been a member of the United Nations Initiative at NYU, which was created to increase the dialogue between international leaders and the youth/students who have become disconnected from the global political process. During his final year as an undergraduate, Raghuveer became the director of the Initiative because he believes “the UN Initiative’s mission and actions to be absolutely critical to the political discourse at NYU.”  Due to his commitment and passion, Raghuveer said he has made some impressionable strides in the Initiative. 

“I personally have worked to increase the participation of the African international leaders, such as the ambassadors of Egypt, Nigeria and the African Union,” Raghuveer said. “I’m also working to expand our panel discussion series, which focuses on thematic issues as opposed to the affairs of nation-states.”  

As part of the Global Liberal Studies programme at NYU, students are required to spend a year abroad at one of NYU’s satellite campuses, such as Berlin, which is where Raghuveer decided to go. Through this, Raghuveer discovered his passion for climate change when he started interning with Climate Analytics, an international climate science and policy institution.   

Raghuveer Vyas, far right, at at UN Initiative event at NYU between an ambassador from Egypt and NYU students.“I truly began to understand that climate change poses the single largest threat to the human species, and would disproportionately affect lower economic classes and citizens in developing countries, with the African continent poised to be one of the worst hit, “ said Raghuveer.  

While in Berlin, Raghuveer worked as part of the climate policy team at Climate Analytics where he conducted scholarly research on the policies surrounding climate change mitigation and adaptation. As part of the team, Raghuveer said he was able to co-author a report, “Decarbonising South and South East Asia”, for the Asian Development Bank and the UN Environment Programme. 

“The report aimed to investigate the current state of fossil fuel consumption in South and Southeast Asia and analyse the potential of renewable energy forms to replace these fossil fuels,” Raghuveer said.  

Due to his time at Climate Analytics in Berlin, Raghuveer said he rejoined as an intern at their New York office during his final year at NYU. In New York, Raghuveer worked with the Implementation Strategy team, which assists developing countries, specifically countries in Sub-Saharan Africa and the Caribbean.  

Raghuveer Vyas, far left, at a UN Initiative at NYU.“While the work I did was quite diverse, I worked quite closely with the small, and severely threatened, country of Saint Lucia,” Raghuveer said. “The country was attempting to receive financing from the international community to realise its ambitious National Adaptation Plan for climate change. I got to work on the national Private Sector Engagement Strategy (PSES), which chartered, among other things, a means through which the government could better engage with the country’s private sector in making them more resilient to climate change. This was submitted to the Saint Lucian government in early December, with the Cabinet of Ministers poised to read it in the new year.

Along with this, Raghuveer said he has worked on preliminary research for a universal Green Affordable Housing Project for Saint Lucia, which “aims to create a relocation and housing system that is resilient to the effects of climate change and compensate victims.” Raghuveer said he also drafted a funding proposal for Saint Lucia, “which aimed to revamp the national health sector and make it more resilient to climate change, both in terms of service provision and infrastructural soundness.” 

Although his interests aren’t only focused on climate change, Raghuveer said he understands the urgency of recognising this phenomenon and the implications it can have on the entire world.  

“Climate change is somewhat personal to me as I come from a farming family in Kenya,” Raghuveer said. “I’ve directly witnessed the impacts of a changing climate on the farm and seen how widespread the impacts are. For me, climate change has provided a unique lens through which to understand and question some of the perennial challenges facing the Global South.”  

Reflecting on his time at the Academy, Raghuveer said he would not be where he is now had it not been for the various opportunities he received and the different skills he learned at the Academy.  

“I first discovered my passion for global politics at AKA Mombasa through different platforms ranging from participating in Model United Nations, to having an incredible team of Humanities and Global Politics teachers who all really encouraged me to hone in my skills in the subject,” Raghuveer said. “A lot of necessary skills, such as critical thinking and analytical writing, were taught to us at the Academy, making it far easier for me to adjust to the demands of college.” 

Raghuveer Vyas, far right, at the NYU Jordan Center.Although Raghuveer is unsure of what he’ll do after his Master’s at NYU, he said he is looking forward to what the future has in store for him.  

“I’m excited to be a student during one of the most fascinating and influential eras in Global Politics and I’m looking forward to learning more about the various issues that grip us as an international community,” Raghuveer said.

By Anusha Lalani