2011 - Spanish Piedad Martín shares with us her story as a JPO in Colombia, and as a SARC in Mexico.
From JPO to SARC
My name is Piedad Martín, I am a Spanish environmentalist specialized in economic development. After some years working as environmental consultant, I joined the Spanish Cooperation Agency for Development to focus on what professionally I enjoy more: sustainable development in developing countries.
I spent some time at the Spanish Cooperation Agency headquarters and moved to the Palestinian Territories. Afterwards, I moved from Jerusalem to Manizales, Colombia, at the end of 2006. At that time I wanted to broaden the scope of the development topics I was specializing in. The JPO Programme allowed me to do so and I joined the UNDP Office in Colombia for the Coffee Region and Antioquia as its Director. There, my main partners were local authorities whom we supported on a variety of governance topics. I had the opportunity to strengthen also my own capacities in human resources, security management and policy advocacy for human development and peace.
After one year living surrounded by the Andean mountains, I moved to Bogota taking on new challenges as agreed with the new UNDP Country Director: coordinating an inter-area strategy to foster democratic governance in the Caribbean region and developing a climate change portfolio. I had the opportunity to gain experience in other Colombian regions and to work closely with national institutions. In Colombia, one feels that time passes so fast, people are very capable and full of expectations.
After three years in Bogota, I learned how to adapt projects to an always changing situation how to "think out of the box", to look for alternative solutions and overcome difficulties. Engaging in a new topic such as climate change was a great challenge. I had to define a strategy, mobilize funding, create new alliances and show a specific value added of UNDP to the media, counterparts and other UN agencies. In fact, the interagency work, both mainstreaming climate change in UN program and implementing a pioneer national pilot on adaptation with indigenous communities, led me to the COP15 in Copenhagen to present the Colombian experience.
I believe that UN coordination is a must. The demand of coherence from donors, parties, allies and the System itself is emphatic. My experience working with other UN agencies showed me that the challenges that we face to attain "One UN" are still huge. Thus, I became interested in participating in the Special Assistant to Resident Coordinators Programmme and have arrived to Mexico just three months ago. I am now part of the UN Coordination Office team, involved in all the political discussions on national development challenges on which the UN as a System is jointly focused. I think this kind of position will allow me to continue developing competencies related to strategic advice, promotion of synergies, negotiation and mobilization of compromises.
What can I say about Mexico? I fell in love with this country when I came eight years ago to stay three months as PhD researcher. For me and my family this is a great destiny, with amazingly kind people and an astonishing nature. The UN has a lot of substantive work to do even though it is a middle income country since regional development disparities are hidden by national means. This is a new opportunity that life has put in front of me to contribute to the changes we need in our way to a fairer World.
By the way...
Pierre asked me for my favourite quote, I heard it from a wise man of the Kokonuko community: "We are not owners of the land, we are part of it", I hope you find it as inspiring as I do.