Patrick Fernandez (’20) and Paul Michael (’20) at the United Nations Development Program

by: Patrick Fernandez ’20 and Paul Michael ’20

Patrick Fernandez ’20 and Paul Michael ’20 both worked as Programme Assistants for the Nature for Development Team at the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) as IPED’s Arrupe Fellows.

Patrick supported the Nature for Development team on their various web-related services and programs. Most of his work was dedicated to UNDP’s Learning for Nature platform which is the first e-learning platform dedicated to sustainable development that connects biodiversity policymakers, change-makers, and on-the-ground subject matter experts. As a former computer engineer and teacher, Patrick was able to use his technical skills and experience in education in designing the platform. He was also able to utilize his knowledge of economics and development for the project.

Patrick Fernandez ’20 at the United Nations

Paul supported the Nature for Development team in various capacities. He participated in the planning of a massive open online course on sustainable entrepreneurship, participated in meetings with strategic international partners, and participated in the global outreach for the 2019 Equator Prize. The Equator Prize is a unique opportunity for local community organizations across the world to be recognized on an international stage for their contribution to providing a nature-based solutions that reduce poverty and enhance environmental sustainability and biodiversity conservation.

Paul Michael ’20

This internship has been a great opportunity in both their personal and professional lives.  The experience has helped to educate and challenge them to think about how they can engage in the global effort to curb climate change as an individual consumer, a member of their communities, and a future professional in the public or private sector. They learned the importance of international initiatives to provide education, advocate for behavioral change at the individual and societal level, and support perhaps the most important and complicated multi-stakeholder effort that humanity faces today.

The internship has allowed both of them to gain more understanding of how UNDP designs and implements their various programs. They were able to immerse themselves and gain important experiences in development work at the international level. They became more familiar with the UN system and gained deeper insight into the best practices of UNDP.

According to them, Fordham’s IPED program gave them the skillset in economic and political analysis, and development management to help them fulfill their work at UNDP. The writing and research skills that they gained from the program also proved to be invaluable for their work.