Owen Fitzgerald, Therese ‘Tess’ Hart, and Viktoriia Brezheniuk (IPED ‘18) are interning at the United Nations Development Programme’s (UNDP) Equator Initiative. The main purpose of the Equator initiative (EI) is to recognize and promote the achievements and innovations of indigenous peoples and local communities. Every two years, the EI announces a global call for nominations for their prestigious award called the Equator Prize. This Prize ultimately serves “to recognize and advance local sustainable development solutions for people, nature and resilient communities. As local and indigenous groups across the world chart a path towards sustainable development, the Equator Prize shines a spotlight on their efforts by honoring them on an international stage.”
Therese “Tess” Hart (IPED ’18)
Owen Fitzgerald (IPED ’18)
Viktoriia Brezheniuk (IPED ’18)
Owen shared his excitement that life is never boring at the UNDP: “Our responsibilities at UNDP’s Equator Initiative are ever-changing!” Upon arrival in September of 2016, Tess and Owen were working on a research project focusing on biodiversity and the UN’s Sustainable Development Goals. They assessed 60 different countries’ National Biodiversity Strategies and Action Plans (NBSAPs), and teamed up with a few others to produce a publication highlighting their findings.
Now, their attention has been focused mainly on the Equator Prize 2017 with the help of Viktoriia, who joined the team in January 2017. The global call for nominations is being spread far and wide. In March, when nominations are due, the EI team will begin reviewing submissions for this prestigious award, a task our IPEDers will be taking part in.
As Arrupe Fellows, Tess and Owen had an automatic “in” for the position with UNDP. Viktoriia, a Ricci Fellow, was passionate about joining the team as well, so Tess and Owen offered Viktoriia’s resume to their boss and she was also accepted as an intern.
Viktoriia, Tess, and Owen at UNDP
Owen and Tess are full-time students, interning part-time as a requirement for their fellowships. Viktoriia is pursuing her education part-time while interning with UNDP part-time and working with the Institute of International Humanitarian Affairs at Fordham, also part-time.
Katie McCann (IPED 2017) and Daina Ruback (IPED 2017) are currently Arrupe Fellow Interns at the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) – Equator Initiative. The Equator Initiative is a multi-stakeholder platform bringing together the United Nations, governments, civil society, businesses and grassroots organizations to promote local sustainable development solutions for people, nature, and resilient communities. The Equator Initiative recognizes the success of local and indigenous initiatives and helps these groups develop the capacity needed to scale up their impact.
As an intern, Katie is currently working on the World Network of Indigenous Peoples and Local Community Land and Sea Managers (WIN) newsletter, which shares opportunities for funding, employment, and action with the Equator Initiative’s network. WIN is a network of indigenous and local community land and sea managers that facilitates sharing of knowledge and best practices in managing ecosystems, protecting the environment, and supporting sustainable livelihoods.
Additionally, she researches and copy-edits case studies of Equator Prize winners which get published and posted in the Equator Initiative’s website. The Equator Prize is an award given biennially in recognition of local sustainable development solutions for people, nature, and resilient communities. The Equator Prize puts the spotlight on local and indigenous groups for their efforts towards sustainable development. Winners of the Equator Prize for 2015 can be found here.
Meanwhile, Daina has worked closely with the group’s Indigenous Peoples Initiative. She has helped conduct research on the link between indigenous peoples’ land rights and reducing carbon emissions and deforestation. She is also responsible for the management of WIN website and for providing general logistical and administrative support. Along with Katie, Daina supported the planning and preparation for the Equator Prize in 2015 which was held in Paris, France. One of the highlights of their time at the Equator Initiative was participating in a press conference with Alec Baldwin, actor and advocate for the Equator Initiative and its work, who helped to announce the 2015 winners.
The internship with the Equator Initiative is part of Fordham IPED’s Arrupe Fellowship, offered to students with relevant work experience in developing countries and those who wish to pursue a career with nonprofit international relief and development organizations.