What's Happening in IPO

28 Nov 2018

EVMT Graduate Joins United Nations’ Volunteer Internship Program


United Nations Volunteers (UNV) - Hong Kong Universities Volunteer Internship Program, funded by Home Affairs Bureau, allows local university undergraduates to participate in a 6-month assignment under the UN Youth Volunteer modality serving under UN field units or agencies overseas to contribute to global peace and development worldwide. 

Stephanie KONG, recent graduate of the Environmental Management and Technology Program (EVMT), has joined the program this year and is now working with the climate change team at Food and Agricultural Organization of the United Nations, Regional Office for Asia and the Pacific (FAORAP) at Bangkok, Thailand, before starting her master program in February 2019.  

Stephanie’s first task was drafting the section on bioenergy in the Third Asia-Pacific Forest Sector Outlook Study, a flagship publication produced in every decade that projects the state of forestry in 20-year-time. Within a very short period of time and being unfamiliar with the topic, she had to digest a vast sum research papers and reports and finished the draft along with the guidance provided by her supervisor. Literature review is common in the work of FAORAP as literature presented evidences and justifications to initiate or to scale up projects.

Her another main duty is to prepare for and organize workshops and meetings that bring together government officials of various countries to start a conversation and bridge scientific community to policymakers. By far, she has helped out in the area of climate change and rice landscapes, Koronivia Joint work on Agriculture and preparation of 24th Conference of the Parties to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC).

Having worked at the agency for almost 5 months, Stephanie’s horizons are widely broadened to a whole new level, especially on the understanding of developing countries.

Stephanie truly realizes that developing countries are facing many complex problems that require real interdisciplinary knowledge to solve. Once she attended a workshop for ASEAN countries government officials to discuss how to reduce disasters risks through social protection. Countries try their best to minimize climate related disaster risk, speed up their response and towards higher recurrence of disaster. However, there are many other considerations and challenges that hinders these countries for reaching their goal including social exclusion, finance and aids, political discrepancy between national and sub-national government, gender equality and cultural conservation. Fixing any particular problem requires multiple sectors and stakeholders to collaborate. It would not work if any party leave the table. Not until working in the United Nations, she acknowledged the true meaning of interdisciplinary in reality.

The experience in FAORAP allows Stephanie to see both the strength and weakness that the United Nations possesses as well as the opportunities and challenges faced by these organizations. It is quite different from what she imagined and in reality. Although sometimes she feels frustrated by how difficult to push forward a belief into action and to achieve Sustainable Development Goals by 2030, yet she believes it is still worthwhile to do it step by step in making small difference, before the big changes come.

Working at United Nations is a totally different exposure from Stephanie’s previous internships at commercial sector. She recommends fellow students to join this program to understand more about the United Nations and what real developing world is like in person.   

  • Stephanie KONG, graduate of the Environmental Management and Technology Program (EVMT), has joined the United Nations Volunteers (UNV) - Hong Kong Universities Volunteer Internship Program and is now working at Food and Agricultural Organization under UN at Bangkok, Thailand

  • Stephanie’s colleagues come from all over the world including Thailand (local), Japan, China, Australia, Bangladesh, Vietnam, Canada, Switzerland and the United States

  • Stephanie organizes workshops and conferences for government officials on climate change

  • Zero Hunger, SDGs no. 2 is what FAO works towards the most to end hunger, achieve food security and improved nutrition and promote sustainable agriculture

  • Stephanie attended the Bangkok Climate Change Conference (UNFCCC) from September 4th – 9th at the United Nations Conference Centre (UNCC)