Montserrat Koloffon's Bio

Montserrat Koloffon PhotoRole: Applied research and collaboration.

Nationality: Mexico, but speak fluent Spanish, German, and English. Attended a 12 year German school in Guadalajara, Mexico. Acquired a BS in Political Science from University of Mannheim in Germany and have studied in several other countries, so I'm a bit of an internationalist. I see myself as a world citizen.

My Story and Vision

My story begins in Mexico, where I was born and raised, and also where I was lucky to attend the German School during my entire school years. In that context, I was exposed to two things that became very relevant for the career path I’ve followed; first, having a bi-cultural education since I was a child is probably the earliest source of my interest on international cooperation, and second, growing up in Mexico I became very aware of the huge inequalities and social imbalances, which became my first direct contact with the largest and most difficult unsolved problems of humanity.

At some point during high school, based on knowledge I had acquired about the United Nations, I decided that I wanted to study international relations and build a diplomatic career to be able to set the course of the global agenda together with other State leaders from all around the globe. Even though by then I was already aware of some of the structural challenges the UN faced, I was still convinced that the sphere of international cooperation and negotiation was the best path for me to have a positive impact in the world.

Following that plan, I went to Germany to study political science at the University of Mannheim. During that time, I was fortunate to attend a Summer School at the UN in Bonn, where we learned about how the UN’s Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) were being adapted into a post-2015 development agenda, what later became the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), also known as the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development. It was an insightful event, where we engaged directly with the people involved in the process, but for some reason, something wasn’t clicking for me.

After that a couple other relevant things happened: first, I finished my BA degree, writing a thesis that let me understand much more in depth the flaws of the UN. Then, after graduating, I focused for a while on classic activism work, launching a student’s initiative for environmental sustainability back in Mexico. There, I noticed that the scale of that impact we were having locally was way too insignificant to solve the problem as a whole. Finally, I attended yet another UN event, this time at the New York headquarters, where it became clear to me how the SDGs had become just a second version of the MDGs, which unfortunately meant one thing: same approach, same failure.

It became very clear to me that my new mission was to find a new type of solution. Not just a new solution, but a new operating paradigm from where to come up with solutions. I found that at, where I finally saw all the most important unsolved problems of humanity coherently approached in a holistic manner, and suggestions for solutions based on Root Cause Analysis.

Now that I’ve found a new paradigm that can work, the next mission is to prove that it does work to the world with some innovative research. If everything works as planned, then by doing so we may end up saving it too!

November 29, 2020 Update

After a six month intership with and lots of quality time working closely with Jack on research and mentoring, I'm in Amsterdam, Netherlands at Vrije Universiteit Amsterdam, have completed a masters in Political Science: Global Environmental Governance, and have just begun my PhD program under the same advisor.

The masters thesis was on Regime Effectiveness Reconsidered: Achieving the SDGs, as my main research interest continues to be how to effectively achive a global cooperative approach to sustainability, especially through the United Nations. The Abstract is below:

For at least three decades, several different concepts have been analysed as possible explanatory variables of (environmental) regime effectiveness and yet, questions about drivers of effectiveness remain only partially answered. Despite the increased attention granted to this topic by academics and practitioners, the difficulties faced on the analytical level still translate in most cases into unaccomplished goals and thus, continued environmental deterioration. Scholars in this field have pointed out methodological limitations given the complex nature of these issues, however better alternatives remain scarce.

This paper suggests that an important analytical weakness stems from the fact that potential explanatory variables are often investigated separately, failing to account for the effects that arise from their interaction. An analytical framework based in simulation models from the field of system dynamics is presented as a promising approach to account for this analytical gap. This enables a better understanding of the regime’s design components dynamic behaviour and uncovers two important mechanisms to ensure impact effectiveness: throughput legitimacy, and design accountability. The analytical framework is used to assess the regime design of the Sustainable Development Agenda of the United Nations, specifically the Sustainable Development Goals.

A summary of Conclusions follows:

In this work, I have presented system dynamics as an analytical framework to evaluate and improve regime effectiveness. The main contribution shows how valuable insights in the form of high leverage points of the system can be drawn simply from linking the studied variables in a causal loop diagram. This evidence supports the two complementary hypotheses advanced by this study:

H1: Using a linear causality approach, high leverage points for effectiveness are difficult to identify.

H2: Taking an integral approach based on system dynamics, high leverage points are relatively straightforward to identify. In the face of increasing efforts both from academics and practitioners, and continued deterioration of the environment, this methodology offers encouraging possibilities to uncover the dynamics behind regime design and make the changes that will actually help regimes achieve impact effectiveness more efficiently.

The message of this study is an optimistic one: gaining an in depth understanding of the dynamics behind regime effectiveness can be achieved using the analytical framework introduced in this paper. The implications could be significant in face of the urgent need of achieving impact effectiveness as efficiently as possible. Future areas of research obviously revolve around the completion of this analysis through the building of a simulation model. Furthermore, the node of design accountability could turn into an entire line of research in itself, facing the challenge of answering the question of how to best diagnose a problem to ensure that the policy design is tackling its root causes. For the SDGs this probably implies taking much more seriously the synergies across goals, in order to design policy that leads to the achievement of related goals simultaneously.