2011 - Kelly Papadaki, JPO with UNDP currently funded by Greece, shares with us her experience and insights on her assignment in Geneva.
What is your background?
Having been awarded a degree in Translation (Ionian University, Greece, 2001), I have a perfect command of Greek and excellent English and French.
Furthermore, having completed my Master’s degree in International Studies (University of Durham, Faculty of Social Sciences, UK), I have a sound background knowledge of the International system, which I further enriched during my two internships at the Institute of International Relations (Panteion University, Athens) and the Hellenic Foundation for European & Foreign Policy (ELIAMEP, Athens).
Over the past six and a half years, I have been working at the Greek Information Society Observatory, an EU-funded Organization, part of the national development program on Information Society, which aims at collecting and assessing quantitative and qualitative data on issues regarding the Information Society in Greece, diffusing best practices, conducting relevant studies and contributing to the policy formulation processes to the Greek Government and other interested parties.
What in your career set/path that allowed you to join the JPO programme?
I was always looking for a job opportunity in European and international organizations and was really excited to see that the Greek Government was sponsoring JPO positions at UNDP. In fact, there were several positions announced, but there was one on Information Society and local development in UNDP Geneva that made a perfect match with my previous working experience in the management of EU funded projects in the area of Information Society and my expertise in ICT policy and strategies’ formulation. And I was the lucky one to be selected!!
What made you apply to the JPO programme?
Working for the UN was an adult dream that I have had since I started studying international relations and my current JPO position at UNDP is a dream to come true! I have always wanted to work for an international organization that is dedicated to people and their development rather than profit; an organization that deploys money and influence to do good! The UN targets, namely the 8 Millennium Development Goals, seem so fundamental and simple, yet they are so difficult to achieve. Lots of things need to be done and I am willing to help as much as I can!
What are the main activities of your office/organisation in your duty station?
The UNDP Office in Geneva is headed by a Director who reports to the Director of the Partnerships Bureau (PB). In addition to its PB functions, it comprises BDP (Bureau for Development Policy) units dealing with substantive issues including Trade, Human Rights, HIV-AIDS – liaising with Geneva-based global decision and standard setting centers in those areas and providing advice and support to Country Offices worldwide. The Office also maintains close relations with the strong BCPR contingent present in Geneva. It has a specific responsibility for resources mobilization in France and Switzerland, as well as for representing UNDP vis-à-vis UN sister agencies and other intergovernmental bodies and institutions present in Geneva and in the geographical area covered by the Office. It provides communication services and performs the functions of the Office of Communications in Europe, except for the Nordic Countries, Ireland, the UK and the EU institutions. The Office builds strategic and innovative partnerships with a variety of actors, including local and regional authorities, private sector and civil society organizations.
The UNDP Office in Geneva being located in the second UN Centre in the world also plays a key role in supporting and advancing the UN reform and UNDP’s pivotal role therein. It fosters relations at all levels with specialized UN institutions, intergovernmental and non governmental bodies, diplomatic missions and other partners based in Geneva and represents various UNDP units at events and meetings taking place in Geneva and as appropriate and requested in other places in Europe.
What are the main activities/tasks you work on?
I am working on the ART / ISI@MED initiatives by providing assistance and support to the Deputy Director and to the Team in carrying out specific tasks related to these initiatives, such as organization of identification missions, project document formulation, needs assessment missions, follow up on the implementation of applications and services provided by actors of decentralized cooperation, liaising with CTAs and Senior Technical Advisor in the beneficiary countries, and in backstopping the project teams in countries of implementation.
ISI@MED, that is the Information Society Initiative for the Mediterranean, was designed by UNDP to address the digital divide between Africa and Europe and to leverage new technologies to facilitate and accelerate the improvement of livelihoods and the creation of opportunities for people living in poverty. Through Information and Communication Technologies (ICTs), communities are leapfrogging development processes to improve public service delivery, improve the quality of education and expand the labour market by plugging into the world.
The ART / ISI@MED’s unique approach supports decentralization and seeks to help local communities adopt the new technologies in their efforts to address local and sub-national challenges in governance and economic development. The ART / ISI@MED approach is fully integrated into the matrix process of cooperative local development, wherever ART National Framework Agreements are in place to coordinate situations in which there are multiple support partners (partners in development cooperation) and local development processes driven by local elected leaders and civil society organizations.
Furthermore, I am contributing to enhancing collaborative institutional partnerships and resource mobilization efforts, especially with actors of decentralized cooperation, networks, civil society and private sector. As far as the private sector is concerned, I am working intensively with the Deputy Director on identifying, building and implementing partnerships with private companies and foundations in order for all development actors to engage into an inclusive multilateralism to be able collectively to better tackle poverty and development challenges.
What is the most enriching and/or challenging project that you are working on?
Everything I have worked on so far is very interesting and enriching and I am very satisfied that I can contribute to UNDP Geneva by using and building on my previous experience. However, a project that I particularly enjoy as I am very dedicated to it from the moment I arrived in UNDP Geneva is the drafting and future publication of ISI@MED Handbook. This Handbook is a joint publication of UNDP and the Centre for Mediterranean Integration (CMI) with the support of the City of Marseille, France, and aims at providing local decision makers throughout the Mediterranean with a set of concrete and easy-to-use guidelines on why and how ICTs should be integrated into local development policy making.
Can you give a personal impression of your duty station? Is there an outstanding positive aspect which comes to your mind?
The UNDP Geneva Director, Deputy Director and colleagues made me feel very comfortable from the very beginning of my arrival in the office. An outstanding positive aspect that comes to my mind is the challenge to work in an international context and cross-cultural environment and developing further my skills. Furthermore, Geneva is the UN European Headquarters, which means that a lot of interesting things are taking place here and I really want to take advantage of everything as much as I can.
What is most challenging / difficult to adapt to?
As a newcomer to the UN, I would say that the most challenging / difficult thing to adapt to is understanding and becoming part of the new, huge and complex UN environment that can neither be underestimated, nor be easily explained.
What is your motivation to work in the field of development?
I have always worked for development from many different aspects. My motivation is that the work done in development has great impact on people’s lives, thus worth every effort.
Which random words come to your mind when thinking about your JPO assignment?
Working together with people from all over the world with different language, national and cultural backgrounds
Exploring new countries, new cultures and civilizations
Helping nations build better livelihoods for their people
What kind of advice would you give to new JPOs?
The advice I would give to new JPOS would be to definitely apply for a JPO assignment and live intensively this international and intercultural experience in the field of development. As far as my country is concerned, I hope that the current and future governments will continue to give this great working opportunity to young people with all necessary qualifications, despite the difficult financial juncture in which Greece is at the moment. It is really important for the country itself to help young educated people to follow a career in international organizations and the JPO assignment is the perfect way to do it.
How do you feel your JPO assignment will influence your career choices/opportunities within the UN?
I hope in a very positive way! I wish that it opens a window in the UN system, as I would particularly enjoy working in this unique international organization helping people and trying to make their lives better.
By the way…
What is your favourite quote?
"You must be the change you want to see in the world"
Mahatma Gandhi: Indian political and spiritual leader, 1869 - 1948
What/who inspires you?
Learning, never stop learning and always taking advantage of the opportunities that get us a little further in life.