Name: Lam Cheuk Chee Cynthia
BSc in Biochemistry
The Chinese University of Hong Kong
Position: Natural Sciences Team at the UNESCO Beijing Cluster Office
Duration: June 2019-August 2019 (3 months)
Sponsorship: United Nations Peace Development Foundation
Supervisor: Philippe Pypaert
Being part of the Natural Sciences (“dream”) team at UNESCO Beijing Office has been one of the best experiences in my life. I would like to express my greatest gratitude to Mr. Philippe Pypaert, UNESCO, UNPDF, people on my team (Han, Zengquan, Fengyi and Junfei) and other interns in the UNESCO Beijing Office (yep that’s you guys: Aseem, Zhangyu, Scott, Yudan etc). Throughout the past few months I’ve been in the UNESCO Beijing Office, not only have I been constantly immersed in many intellectual discussions, but have also organised the one of the biggest “Man in Biosphere” (MAB) event in United Nations, attended the Youth Climate Summit at the UN Headquarters in New York City and met some of the smartest and kindest people. I enjoyed working at the office to the point where I hated weekends, because I had to wait two days until I can go back to work again. Working in this office made OTs, meetings outside office hours, and the busy work schedule enjoyable.
Under the supervision of Mr. Philippe Pypaert, I have learnt a lot regarding to work ethics, negotiation skills and personal skills. I have also gained a better understanding of the UN system and UNESCO’s role in the UN system.
When I first arrived, I assisted the team in promoting the UNESCO Garden at the 2019 Beijing Horticultural Expo. I wrote articles on WeChat explaining the whole idea of the garden, how the drones take daily pictures and how UNESCO works.
One of the biggest project I’ve been involved in was organising the 2019 MAB Youth Forum in Changbaishan in mid September. The MAB Youth Forum gathers youth from all around the world to come together and propose ways to contribute to the post-2020 Biodiversity framework for action, addressing climate change and sustainable development. I was involved in contacting government, non-government and private sectors related to Biosphere Reserves and MAB National Committees about the MAB Youth Forum, provide administrative support like managing contacts with participants, arranging travels and accommodation, visa procedures, and issuing invitation letters. Moreover, I have drafted official correspondence documents and statements, and designed public outreach materials for the event. While contacting participants and their MAB National Committees, I encountered one of the biggest challenges throughout my internship, which is the language barrier. Some of the countries’ official language is French or Portuguese, which made it hard for me to fully understand their message, and reply their emails efficiently. However, I managed to overcome this challenge by using online translation tools and asking people from my office to help translate the emails. While I was planning for this international forum, and writing to participants rom all over the world, I learnt more about the MAB programs, gained more insights to projects that contribute to sustainable development and biodiversity management and realised that forums like this are very useful in bringing like-minded people together who have similar goals.
Our team was also lucky enough to be invited by United Nations to attend the 2019 Youth Climate Summit in New York City right after the MAB Youth Forum. The summit was joined by 500 other youths from all around the world, who are young activists, innovators, entrepreneurs, and change makers who are committed to combat climate change. It was such an amazing experience talking to all these youths, and meeting people from Google X, Nike, Microsoft, and attending workshops by Instagram, Facebook and Youtubers.
On the whole, this internship has way exceeded my expectations. I never expected myself to enjoy my internship at UNESCO so much, along with all the opportunities that was given to me. I would like to thank UNPDF for the financial support for living in Beijing. Although my internship at UNESCO Beijing Office has ended, it’ll definitely not be the end of my journey at UN. I hope that through my participation in organising the MAB Youth Forum and attending the Climate Action Summit, I will be able to share my views as a scientist and also to combine ideas from participants coming from all around the world and from different fields of studies, to effectively contribute to the Paris Agreement and combat climate change together.