My first three weeks at the Food & Agricultural Organization (FAO) in Rome have been all about meeting people, making connections and learning the ins and outs of this specialized agency of the United Nations. I am interning with the Blue Growth Initiative, housed within the Fisheries Department, which seeks to promote sustainable economic growth that emphasizes sound management of aquatic resources and ecosystem services and improves livelihoods and social equity. It is very exciting to be working on a program that takes a holistic view of and approach to tackling the seemingly intractable issues surrounding over-exploitation of marine resources, poverty and gender inequality.
I will be developing a discussion paper which examines strategies for promoting the role of women and youth in achieving Blue Growth, based on the principle of “leave no one behind.” I have been busy familiarizing myself with important FAO publications and guidelines such as the Code of Conduct for Responsible Fisheries and Voluntary Guidelines for Securing Sustainable Small-Scale Fisheries (SSF Guidelines). One of the benefits of being at headquarters, besides the obvious attraction of Rome itself, is the chance to attend numerous seminars and events. Just today, I attended the book launch of “The Small Scale Fisheries Guidelines: Global Implementation” an 800+ page collection of case studies presenting first of its kind research on implementation of the SSF Guidelines.
It is inspiring to be surrounded by individuals actively involved in shaping global fisheries and aquaculture policy. Being here makes class lectures, assignments and my own research all the more tangible and significant to me. Unfortunately, I will miss out on events surrounding the 40th Session of the FAO Conference next week, but only because I will be traveling on mission with the FAO to the small island nation of São Tomé and Príncipe! Stay tuned for more on that in my next blog post.
Outside of work I am keeping busy trying to learn Italian by attending language class twice a week, and enjoying all the sights, sounds and more importantly delicious food Rome has to offer. Being a student in Monterey and living a short walk from campus, I had forgotten the drudgery of the work day commute. I reward myself with copious servings of Italian coffee throughout the day and gelato at lunch or as a post-work snack. I have fully committed to coming back to Monterey with an expanded waistline! The past three weeks have really flown by but fortunately I have another six weeks in which to learn and have fun.
Big shout out to Zach Foco, an IEP alumnus, and current consultant with the Blue Growth Initiative who largely made this experience possible for me and who has been amazing in helping me get acquainted with the programmatic work, introducing me around the office, and navigating the labyrinthine halls of the FAO, where it is impossible not to get lost!