Photo credit: István Kéry
By: István Kéry, MIPP student
Bula from Fiji! My name is Isti Kéry and I am a recent graduate of the Master of International Public Policy (MIPP) program at the Balsillie School of International Affairs, where I specialized in international environmental policy. I am fortunate to have the opportunity to be working in Suva, Fiji with the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) Pacific Office through UN Association of Canada’s (UNA-Canada) International Development & Diplomacy Internship Programmes (IDDIPs). Here in Suva, I have joined the Resilience and Sustainable Development team in the Pacific Office, which focuses on the projects related to environment, climate change, and disasters. This internship has been a meaningful opportunity for my professional development by providing practical and personally relevant work experience. In my first week, I quickly became involved in the office activities and participated in a climate security workshop with UNDP and International Organization for Migration (IOM) representatives, along with national project representatives from Kiribati, Republic of Marshall Islands (RMI), and Tuvalu. In the same week, I was also invited to a village where a UNDP project was recently completed that installed water catchment tanks to increase water security and access to fresh water sources. It was a special opportunity to meet and speak with the local residents who directly benefit from this project.
Currently, I am closely involved with three UNDP projects, and they focus on invasive alien species and biosecurity, climate security in the Pacific region, and adaptation to climate change in coastal zones. The work I have been doing so far has given me a chance to apply the knowledge I gained conducting research during the MIPP program. Not only this, but my academic background has made me feel confident that my contributions to these projects are valuable. This has been validated for me because my teams and colleagues trust me with meaningful tasks and give me responsibility to take the lead on certain elements of the projects. I have been the point person in meetings based on background work and analysis that I conducted, and I even led my own meeting with a national project management unit. I have been tasked with conducting outreach to other UN agencies and regional organizations as a UNDP representative, to explore opportunities for collaboration on current and future projects. I am heavily involved in the revision and preparation of climate security project documents that are on track for publication. Engaging in this work, while taking on a certain level of responsibility, has been an invaluable experience and has reinforced components of what I learned in the MIPP program.
This has been my first experience working internationally and I have engaged with professionals who have worked all over the world. This has been an incredible opportunity for me to learn from these colleagues and peers and engage with a range of perspectives on global, national, and local issues. I am grateful to travel to a new country and region where I can immerse myself in the local context and further grow as a professional and individual. There have been several occasions when I have looked around and thought, or even asked aloud, “Can you believe it”? Advocating for, and contributing to, positive social, political, and economic change, especially in an environmental capacity, is work I know I am meant to pursue. So, I am motivated to learn, try, and give my best effort during my time here in Suva, Fiji. I will admit that living and working in warm, tropical weather during the peak of the Canadian winter didn’t hurt either!