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Harmonizing the Fellowship Approach Across UN System Organizations

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Participants of the SFO meeting, 24 October 2018. (Photo: O. Yusuf/IAEA)

Fellowship officers from various United Nations (UN) system organizations and specialists from national placement and supervising agencies gathered at IAEA headquarters from 23 to 25 October 2018 to attend the 22nd Senior Fellowship Officers’ (SFO) meeting with the aim of harmonizing practices related to the management and implementation of fellowships.

For more than four decades, the biennial SFO meeting, traditionally organized by the United Nations Department of Economic and Social Affairs (UNDESA), has served as a framework to strengthen the inter-agency coordination of fellowships and to offer a forum to share experiences and lessons learned.

“In 2017, almost 2000 fellows and scientific visitors were placed at various institutions, laboratories, and universities through the IAEA’s technical cooperation (TC) programme. Fellowships complement the other components of TC projects and assist Member States in their development efforts, allowing for long term, on-the-job training to facilitate attainment of knowledge and skills for young professionals”, explained Martin Krause, Director, Division of Programme Support and Coordination, Department of Technical Cooperation. Mr Krause welcomed the objectives of the meeting to increase the quality of fellowships across UN system organizations by collaborating and learning from each other. 

As part of a TC project, fellowships are awarded to provide local personnel with specialized qualifications in the safe, secure, and peaceful application of nuclear technologies to build national expertise and meet the training needs of a Member State.

The meeting’s participants actively engaged in discussions on quality management and evaluation, innovation in fellowship programming, communication for development, fellowships and human rights, as well as various approaches to the implementation of fellowships.

“The main topic on the agenda this year is communication for development, as recommended by the 21st meeting, two years ago. Fellowship officers indicated that, in this communication age, new approaches were needed to communicate the fellowship message and to enhance the fellowship coordination, implementation and management. Communication is not only a tool to gather and disseminate information, but also an integral part of development. Through effective communication, we can identify and engage stakeholders, establish dialogue, build partnerships, reach common understanding and agree on joint initiatives”, emphasized Tom Rudi, Chief of Human Resources Management, and meeting secretary, from UNDESA. Participants recognized the importance of developing a communication strategy in order to showcase fellowships as a crucial tool for capacity building and agreed to continue exchanging experiences in this regard.

The meeting benefitted from the presence of representatives from 21 UN system organizations, nine non-UN entities, and one UNDESA alumna.

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