2013 - Ulf Fink, Special Assistant to the Resident Coordinator funded by Sweden, shares his SARC story from Liberia with us.
JPO experience in Tanzania
As a JPO, I was assigned with the Democratic Governance Unit, UNDP Country Office in Tanzania 2009 – 2012. The assignment with UNDP Tanzania provided me with an excellent opportunity to enhance my understanding of the organisation, both globally and at the national level. In particular, I was introduced to the practical application of UNDP’s transformative change agenda as well as UN reform in the context of Delivering as One.
In UNDP Tanzania, I was assigned to manage the crisis prevention and recovery portfolio which has strengthened my thematic knowledge and programme management skills in the area which adds to my previous work with the UN in conflict/post-conflict countries.
SARC Assignment in Liberia
What are the main activities of your office in your duty station?
The Resident Coordinator Office (RCO) in Liberia serves the UN Country Team and manages a variety of inter-agency coordination. RCO also functions as a link between the UN Country Team and the Peacekeeping Mission, United Nation Mission in Liberia (UNMIL). A key responsibility of the RCO is to drive the UN "Delivering as One" process forward both in programming and operations.
What are the main activities/tasks you work on?
I have just completed the first year of my SARC assignment with RCO in Liberia and have spent the last 9 months has acting Head of RCO. As acting Head of RCO, my primary role has been to manage RCO staff, annual work plans and budgets. I have also served as the liaison point between UN Country Team and UNMIL. In my capacity as a SARC my responsibilities have revolved around driving the programmatic aspects of Delivering as One including the formulation of a One Programme, a One Fund and a Joint Resource Mobilization strategy.
What has been the most rewarding experience for you at your duty station?
Advancing "Delivering as One" remains the most enriching and challenging aspect of my work with RCO in Liberia. Tremendous achievements have been made since "Delivering as One" was introduced in 2010 and the United Nations Coordination Team (UNCT) now has an integrated and holistic programmatic and budgetary framework for the next 5 years, aligned with national priorities.
An additional enriching experience has been to work with the UN Country Team on preparing for the drawdown of UNMIL, carefully assessing the needs of both Government and UN Agencies to step in once the mission departs.
Monrovia is a vibrant West African capital, smaller than most capitals in the region. The city has recovered relatively well since the end of the war (2003) and urban development is on the rise. As an expatriate in Monrovia, things have improved in the last year with new supermarkets and better forms of accommodation becoming available. The most positive aspect of Monrovia is the beach and the proximity to the Atlantic Ocean.
Availability of fresh food is somewhat scarce and prices in the expatriate economy are extremely high. Monrovia is also the wettest capital in the world which makes for an eight month long rainy season and constant humidity.
Working in the Field of Development
What is your motivation for working in the field of development?
My motivation stems from wanting to implement a mandate which seeks to improve conditions for peace, stability and general prosperity.
What kind of advice would you give to new SARCs?
Be proactive and learn to identify institutional and individual incentives for strengthened coordination and collaboration within the UN system.
How do you feel your SARC assignment will influence your career choices/opportunities within the UN?
I believe the SARC assignment will put me in a good position to advance my career within the UN system. It may not be my wish immediately after this assignment, but it remains a viable option in the future.
By the way…
What is your favourite quote?
Be happy for this moment, this moment is your life.
What inspires you?