Reflections from Jakarta: Gord's Experience at UNDP Indonesia



On my way to Indonesia, the first thing I made sure to bring was my sunscreen, but after that, a sense of openness was my next most important travel aide. So on that note, I started a list of things I’ve tried for the first time. For someone who had never been to Asia before, I’m happy to say the list continues to grow even after 4 months in Jakarta.

Working in UNDP’s Environment Unit, my work has centered on marine conservation, improving water access, and sustainable development financing. 
In my role, I have conducted research into different environmental conservation efforts and implementation methods to add to project proposals.

I have also been part of a team that reviewed the impact of a project that aims to improve the way governments budget for climate related initiatives. This type of experience builds on the knowledge from my schooling and previous work engagements and turns it into real action. That’s what is exciting about this internship for me – bringing back some real experience that has made a small difference in some way.

"The internship program through the United Nations Association in Canada has truly rounded out the experience I need for my career."

 When I return to Canada, and after finishing my Master’s degree, I envision myself working with an international engineering firm. I aim to be involved with projects that protect and manage water resources to help make cities more resilient while lowering the environmental impact that they place on our aquatic environments. This internship is a great step towards making me a better global citizen and reaching that goal, so I am very grateful for the opportunity!

The highlight of my internship so far has been the 6-day mission to Raja Ampat in the West Papua province of Indonesia. The team headed there to conduct research to help determine what actions are needed to reach biodiversity conservation targets set forth by the Government of Indonesia, and how much it will cost. We met with government officials of Raja Ampat’s Ministry of Marine Affairs and Fisheries, then several different fishing communities throughout the collection of islands. The discussions really highlighted the difficulties in maintaining biodiversity in remote island areas, while also bringing to light the very personal effects that are felt on communities and individuals that come from the pressures of habitat destruction, illegal fishing, and the effects related to climate change.

After my mission in Raja Ampat, I was fortunate to spend 5 more days in homestays on a nearby island, catching rays on the white sand beaches and diving with the reef sharks 20m below. Even as a tourist in the area, it is fairly remote and is quite the haul to get there. I realized that I just had an experience that I would never be able to have even as a savvy tourist, and made connections I would never be able to have just as a visitor. For me, this is the true value of my experience with UNDP, surely not to be forgotten.

I will end my reflection by stating my big crazy goal for the not so distant future - I aim to live on a boat and sail to small island communities and towns, acting as a consultant or a researcher to help improve the community’s resiliency to climate change related effects. I got just a taste of that work here in Indonesia, so I surely have many more islands to visit soon.


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