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Chiara Amato (JPO at UN-RC): passion for mathematics at the service of communities

PRISTINA, DECEMBER 5 – Chiara Amato is a JPO in Planning and Coordination at the Resident Coordinator’s Office in Pristina, the local UN office that deals with the strategic coordination between the local government and the various UN agencies present on the territory in the context of sustainable development. After describing her team’s commitment to raising the awareness about the impact of climate change in Kosovo, she tells Onuitalia about the path that brought her to the United Nations and the priorities currently on her desk.

Who is Chiara Amato and what is she doing at the United Nations?

I won the JPO in the 2019-20 edition, and after the training period I arrived in Pristina in October 2020. I am part of the United Nations Kosovo Team and I work for the Development Coordination Office, which deals with the coordination between the 14 Onusian agencies and the local government in planning, assistance and implementation of strategies and reforms required by the government or agencies themselves. It acts as an umbrella for all sustainable development plans, strategies and priorities but it is separate from the peace mission (UNMIK) and therefore does not deal with the political issues related to it. My office is part of the General Secretariat in New York and has detachments in all the UN member countries, the so-called ‘Resident Coordinators’, but in the case of Kosovo we talk about the’ Development Coordinator’ because of the particular status of the country. As I am a trained economist, I am in charge of the entire portfolio of the economic policy and SDG financing, with a particular focus on Agenda 2030, and more recently also of climate change issues.

What experience led you to work at the UN?
I have a degree in economics from Bocconi University, and I have always been passionate about mathematics and analytical research. I combined this passions with the will to make my contribution for the community during my first study experience abroad, in Singapore, where I specialized in ‘development economics’ and I realized that this was my real interest. My reference text became “Poor Economics” by Esther Duflo, who was later awarded the Nobel Prize for her contribution to the economic theory against poverty, which was one of the themes that fascinated me most. The experience in Singapore also enriched me from a human point of view and certainly brought me into an unknown but incredibly stimulating region. After my three-year degree I did an internship in Mexico in the field of data collection, which allowed me to develop my analytical skills, before the Master in International Public Policy that I took at UCL (University College of London), where I focused in particular on economic instruments at the service of social development. After the Master I was offered the role of economist at the World Bank, where I remained for three years. This experience has definitely changed me and allowed me to improve a lot, always being in contact with international colleagues who have spent their lives in connection with governments to ensure better economic systems for communities. I worked in particular on infrastructure (transport and energy) for Europe and Central Asia, first in Romania and then in Brussels, where I worked on coordination with the European institutions, especially with countries involved in the EU accession process and its related standards. That was before I won the JPO that brought me to the United Nations.

In addition to the academic and professional curriculum, have you had any extra-professional or volunteer experiences, usually essential for a career in the UN framework?
I was fortunate to be part of the Global Shapers Community network, funded by the World Economic Forum, during my work experience in Sierra Leone. Global Shapers is a programme born to connect young people with different profiles but united by the will to make a contribution and improve their communities and their cities.

Which SDGs (Sustainable Development Goals) are at the top of your agenda?
The SDG that I deal with the most is certainly number 8, the one related to economic development and job opportunities. We focus in particular on the negotiations between the government of Kosovo and the European Union in the matters of financial assistance that the government of Kosovo receives from the Union in the framework of the Neighbourhood Policies and the IPA (Instrument for Pre-accession Assistance). I then collect the opinions and strategies of the various agencies and give input or recommendations on the use of funds and implementation of programs. We always have in mind how the UN can help the government’s planning and policy-making strategies and we are also always attentive to the inclusion of all institutional levels in the decision-making processes, from the government to civil society.

What do you recommend to a young person interested in a career in the UN framework?
Follow your passion first, and find a career that allows you to cultivate your interest. Then, in my opinion, it is necessary to surround yourself with a team of people who believe in you and trust you, and therefore allow you to develop your skills and enhance them, having the opportunity to propose your idea and defend it even in front of your superiors. This has happened to me at the World Bank, and even now that I am in a much more bureaucratic system like the United Nations, I realize that here people always give an opportunity to all the ideas proposed, maybe even failing them at the end, but never without listening to them before. (@giorgiodelgallo)

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