United Nations Environment Programme Finance Initiative     (UNEP FI) Geneva, Switzerland

“Life is either a daring adventure or nothing at all.”

Helen Keller

“Changing Finance, Financing Change”

UNEP FI’s slogan

 “Saving our planet, lifting people out of poverty, advancing economic growth – these are one and the same fight.”

United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon

Governing and managing water resources for conflict prevention in the territory of a particular country and its neighboring states brought me to the Rotary Peace Fellowship program and Graduate School at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill (UNC-CH). The area of peace studies plays a significant role in the developing world today. The Rotary Program provides valuable academic as well as practical knowledge and skills. As part of the program, fellows undertake an Applied Fieldwork Experience (AFE) in the field of their research interest with international organizations around the world. This engages fellows in intensive work to develop professional skills and critical thinking in the development field. Peace fellows are carrying out their internships in different fields and different parts of the world. This distinct opportunity contributes to our knowledge as we exchange our ideas and experiences within different fields of concentration.

With anxiety and excitement, I started my first day of AFE in the middle of May 2014 with the United Nations Environment Programme Finance Initiative (UNEP FI) in Geneva, Switzerland. I was very excited for my summer internship experience for several reasons. UNEP FI is working on the specific area of my research interest, the Eastern European region, the same region I am currently involved with projects as well as studying at UNC-CH. Also, this is what I want to do in my home country after graduating from UNC-CH. I was confident that I had enough knowledge to work with this organization, one that is small, yet has an enormous workload. However, there is still so much to learn and work on.

I am interning with an organization in the heart of Europe. Geneva is a beautiful city and home for almost all United Nations agencies as well as many other international organizations with multinational residents. Time is just flying by here; it has been only a month since my arrival in Geneva, but in fact I feel like it’s been only a week. Additionally, I would like to mention, without any experience, living abroad is a challenging adventure (I drop off the US experience here as it is another long story). While writing this blog, I realized that I keep challenging myself all the time, and a quote by Molière crossed my mind “The greater the obstacle, the more glory in overcoming it”.

UNEP FI is a unique global partnership between UNEP and the global financial sector. It works closely with financial sectors like banks, insurers and investors to raise awareness and promote corporate governance of environmental and ecological risks for sustainable development globally. Innovative approaches and collaboration initiatives of the public and private sectors are the essential steps towards addressing environmental, social and governance issues in sustainable development. Today green economy, which results in improved human well-being and social equity, reducing environmental and ecological scarcities, has been integrating across the West, while the East has just started its steps towards sustainability. As mentioned earlier, I am assisting the European region Task Force Coordinator in the country projects, specifically, one of the rapidly developing economies like Russia and Turkey. (I am happy to be able to use my Russian and Turkish language skills and program management experience.)

I believe this professional, as well as social experience will help me in my future career. I keep meeting new people and making friends every day. This allows me to learn different perspectives and current concerns around the globe. For example, the growing concern around food waste and food distribution in developed and underdeveloped countries.

Food loss and waste equals a substantial waste of water, land, energy, labor and capital resources and needless gas productions that contribute to global warming and climate change. In this context, UNEP FI’s work includes pioneering research and tools, engaging stakeholders, both in the public and private sectors, to address the issues as well as capacity building and best practices sharing.

Every day is a blessing for me. Every morning I wake up with gratitude for anything happening in my life. Moreover, what I am doing now inspires me to look for innovative solutions and foster environmental and social sustainability.

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