Ten high school and university students from colleges and universities throughout New Zealand visited the U.N.D.P Multi-Country Office in Apia this week. They were there to learn more about the work of U.N.D.P in international development, environment and sustainable development.
The students were led by two senior youth members, with the visit aiming to expand their knowledge on international relations and especially to pique their interest for the U.N Volunteers programme.
The week-long visit to Samoa, which also included a visit to the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Trade, a courtesy call to the NZ High Commission Office, and visit to some cultural sites is part of the annual Pacific Project for UN Youth New Zealand, a non-profit organisation that promotes global citizenship and civic education to young people.
In his opening remarks to welcome the visiting pupils and team leaders, Filifilia Iosefa, UN Coordination Specialist said he was particularly happy for New Zealand youth to take a genuine interest in learning about the work of an UN agency and hopefully plant a seed for future interest in taking up a career in international humanitarian work.
UNDP Officer in Charge, Sala Georgina Bonin gave a background presentation on the work of the U.N.D.P Multi-Country Office serving the Cook Islands, Niue, Samoa and Tokelau.
The presentation highlighted the 17 Sustainable Development Goals (S.D.Gs) of the 2030 Agenda adopted in September, 2015, a global call for action to address climate change impacts, inclusive economic growth, and address gender and youth issues. Leaving no one behind is the underlying theme and the essence of the S.D.Gs in the global effort to make the world a better place.
Sala said over 80% of U.N.D.P budget is on climate change and disaster risk management, reflecting the desire of the donor community to address this global issue with particular attention on the projected impacts on Small Island Developing States. The recently established Green Climate Fund is a vital resource available to small island development states for mitigation and adaptation to climate change. U.N.D.P is helping develop projects to access these funds on behalf of Pacific island states.
“Our aim has been to capitalize on the vertical funds to address issues such as inclusive economic growth, gender equality and human rights through mainstreaming and aligning them to the objectives of the climate change agenda, thus delivering a truly integrated assistance package to vulnerable communities.”
U.N.D.P plans and projects are developed based on a participatory process of consultations with local governments, NGO communities, stakeholders and partners. Thus, U.N.D.P recently facilitated consultations with the private sector, civil society and government stakeholders in developing the UN Pacific Strategy 2018 – 2022, which will strongly align with the 2030 Agenda through building resilience of those most affected by poverty, inequality, exclusion and vulnerable groups.
Maria B. Tiatia, the Programme Manager for the Youth Employment Programme shared more information about the Samoa One UN Youth Employment Programme (Y.E.P), a multi-U.N. agency funded programme helping to develop initiatives to build the skillsets of unemployed youth. The Samoa government has prioritised youth employment for the U.N. agencies. Ms. Kanae Tada, a Japanese U.N.V attached to the Y.E.P programme shared her experiences as a U.N. Volunteer working in several countries and learning of a new culture.
At the end of the U.N.D.P presentation a lively exchange on U.N. knowledge and experiences took place with students posing questions around issues including education, gender violence, allocation of funds to programmes, and how communities can access climate change funds for other development areas such as economic livelihoods.
Tessa Tafua, Programme Officer for Climate Change and Environment discussed how coastal communities and family owned business operators can access a small grants scheme for climate change adaptation projects to improve resilience to climate change. The E.W.A.C.C project further supports the implementation of activities related to climate change for youth under the umbrella of the Y.E.P.
The high school students acknowledged the work of U.N.D.P in the Pacific and for extending to them a warm welcome and sharing knowledge of working for an international agency. U.N.D.P emphasised getting a good education, securing an internship with a UN agency, keeping an open mind and an appreciation of other cultures as key requirements in paving the way for future UN Volunteers and workers.