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Student Spotlight: Owen Fitzgerald, Tess Hart, and Viktoriia Brezheniuk at UNDP

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.”

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.

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