2009 - JPO funded by Japan, Noriko Chatani has been working in Papua New Guinea on Sustainable Human Development since 2006.
Working for UNDP...
Ever since my first encounter with UNDP's Human Development Report during my undergraduate studies, I've been fascinated with the agency because of its holistic, integrated approach to development. As I began to use these reports more frequently during my graduate studies, my fascination to someday work for the agency turned into a determination that I will one day work there.
Today I am a Japanese JPO working as Sustainable Livelihoods Programme Officer for UNDP in Papua New Guinea (PNG) Country Office. Nonetheless, the road to UNDP was neither fast nor easy. Prior to starting this post, I had a few different experiences in international development. For two years, I was a Japan International Cooperation Agency (JICA) volunteer in Tanzania, working as a lecturer at the Institute of Rural Development Planning. Since completing my studies, I worked as a contract officer at the Secretariat of the Third World Water Forum in Tokyo, and then as a development consultant at the Japanese Consulate in Mumbai, India.
In this way, I built my resume and demonstrated to my government, as well as to UNDP, that I was qualified both academically and professionally to work for the United Nations System. Once I was selected as a JPO, I was given a list of vacancies in a number of different UN agencies from the Foreign Ministry, but I knew right away that I wanted to work for UNDP. The question now was in which sector and country. I was careful not to select the places and regions in which I had already lived and worked, and most of all, I tried best to match my qualifications to the sectors of the assignments offered by UNDP. Given my academic and professional experience, it was natural that the Sustainable Human Development position in Papua New Guinea caught my attention. The terms of reference for this position focused on creating a holistic, integrated approach to development, with a significant focus on the sustainable livelihoods of people in their surrounding environment. Moreover, I felt that my education and hands-on experience in a range of development areas -- from environmental protection to food security -- provided me with the right qualifications to contribute to the Sustainable Livelihoods Programme at UNDP's PNG Country Office. In addition, like for most people, Papua New Guinea was uncharted territory -- the only bits of information I had of the country came essentially through National Geographic. Besides the attraction of the specific duties and responsibilities of the position, not knowing anything about the country was a strong deciding factor for me to take the job.
This month marks my third year working for UNDP in Papua New Guinea. My current portfolio includes, among other things, backstopping projects in environment and eco-tourism and assisting government agencies develop PNG's national Reduced Emissions from Deforestation and Degradation (REDD) framework. If you are familiar with the global climate change agenda, you may be aware of the ongoing negotiations on including avoided deforestation in the post-Kyoto framework. This means that preserved tropical forests could become a major player in climate change mitigation through the official international finance mechanism.
As you many know, deforestation and forest degradation result in substantial reductions in forest carbon stocks and increased carbon emissions, and are also considered the second biggest source of carbon emitters following the energy sector. Given that Papua New Guinea contains the world's third largest rainforest, PNG has been playing a leading role in the Coalition of Rainforest Nations to push the REDD agenda onto the climate change table. I am proud to say that, albeit small, I have been playing a part in developing PNG's REDD Program Framework. As a UNDP officer, I see our role in ensuring that carbon emissions reductions through REDD deliver co-benefits in terms of biodiversity conservation and poverty alleviation in Papua New Guinea. And I believe that the comprehensive education and diverse professional experience has prepared me to tackle the manifold issues surrounding the priority of Papua New Guinea -- that is to deliver as many benefits as possible through REDD.
At times I am overwhelmed with the amount of work that will be required to move the REDD agenda forward in a country where capacity is an issue and in a world where the inclusion of avoided deforestation into the official financial climate change mechanism is uncertain. But for now, I am determined to continue working for UNDP, the agency that has taught me about development being a holistic, integrated process.