Earning a Living

I believe a lot of people ensure this is a process of maximum money for minimum work. I get reminded of this often, but it neither fits my character nor philosophy - a great pity due to the subsequent stress I cause myself

When in South Africa, I had a wonderful job and was privilege to work with great people and in a very dynamic environment. However, I had this increasing need to work internationally and the area of public good was always attractive. Aside from the absolute necessity and benefits of money, I have always felt uneasy due to the greed and mercenary nature of too many of those in the commericial field. The unexpected job vacancy in the Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) in the UN provided an oppportinuty to do many of the things I had always wanted to do, while developing a whole new persepective on life. It was also a huge opportunity to educate my children in a global environment and give them greater options than if they had stayed in Greytown - certainly one of the primary drivers.

When I was initially employed I spent a brief period working 50:50 in Intergrated Pest Management (IPM) and in "Plant Quarantine" (now called phytosanitary measures). Soon after arriving it was decided the need was greater in the area of the Secretariat to the International Plant Protection Convention (IPPC) and ever since have been fulltime in the area of phytosanitary issues. Some of it very fimiliar, but generally a learning curve in a range of subjects. Essentially our little group coordinates the global "plant quarantine" system, primarily through the development of international standards designed to make trade environmentally safer and easier. A good theory, but it is a bumpy road. My area of speciality is that of information exchange within the framework of the IPPC - the main result is the International Phytosanitary Portal (IPP) that is very regulatory (normative) and boring to most (including me, but do not spread this rumour please).

It has certainly been many things expected and unexpected. However, I am certainly not sorry to have taken this opportunity. It has taught me many skills I did not have and a few I would rather not have e.g politics :-) My perspective on life will never be the same again and I am pleased that I have largely lost the core western view of life. As with all employment, there are opportunities and frustrations. The UN seems to have taken the worst beauracracy from each country and roled it into one system - this not only makes it a great challenge to get anything done, but it also slows it down and increases costs. However, FAO provides the opportunities to make an impact in peoples lives and often carries huge responsibility with it to make sure one gets it right, or at minimum, to ensure people are not worse off than they started. Something we all need to remind ourselves often as it is easy to forget reality in this environment, particularly when politics take over.

A rare experience, that has been enjoyable and enriching.


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