Our Perspectives

Inside UNDP: Jorge Álvarez


 Jorge Álvarez with community members from UNDP’s sustainable land management project in Las Bambas, Apurímac, Peru. Photo: UNDP/Peru

Jorge Álvarez, from Peru, is an agricultural engineer who has worked for UNDP for over five years and is on the roster of Peruvian national experts of the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC).

He is motivated by the desire to raise public awareness on the importance of taking care of the planet and its resources, to generate tangible changes in his country, and to leave to his children a legacy of a cleaner and sustainable Peru.

1. What do you do for work? 

I manage the portfolio of energy and environment projects of UNDP in Peru, including more than 18 projects being implemented and another ten in the design/pre-implementation stage. 

The projects are classified in five areas: climate change, biodiversity, desertification, environmental quality and environmental funding.

2. How long have you worked for UNDP? How did you end up working for UNDP? Where were you before? 

My first experience with UNDP was as National Coordinator of "The Second National Communication on Climate Change" project, but worked at the Ministry of the Environment. I then became a Programme Officer and have worked in this position for over two years.

Prior to UNDP, I worked for the National Environmental Council, the forerunner institution to the Ministry of the Environment of Peru, for a private company promoting social development, and for the Institute of Environmental Protection.

3. Give us 2-3 short examples of the types of assignments you do most frequently

I provide technical assistance to the State on environmental issues. I also monitor progress made towards projects’ goals and I manage the team that provides support to the projects, particularly the COP20 Project, REDD-plus and Poverty-Environment Initiative (PEI).

4. Three short data-driven results that these actions contributed to 

In the COP20 project, not only were we able to have everything ready to host more than 194 delegations within a short period of time, but also we successfully laid the basis for a change in national awareness on caring for the environment and the need for the country to have development policies that are truly sustainable. In the project, we included a component that enabled indigenous communities to participate in this process. We organized an awareness-raising fair open to the public called "Voices for the Climate", with an attendance three times greater than expected (60,000 people). This project continues until 2015 and has many activities that are still being implemented.

5. Top 3 favourite things about working for UNDP?

  • The enthusiasm of the team I work with. 
  • Knowing that I am in a position where I can generate change in the country and I can leave a legacy to my children – a country that is capable of facing the challenge of climate change.
  • Professionally speaking, I like the fact that I can share my experiences of working for the government, and that I am recognized as a national expert. 

6. What are the challenges of working and living in your duty station? 

Convincing people that we are on the wrong path. Being focused only on economic issues has made environmental issues become less relevant. We have grown up thinking that the planet and its resources are forever renewable, and we have reached a limit in which the world no longer has the ability to renew itself.

It is difficult for people to understand this situation. There are many who consider their impact on the environment as minimal and that we are only one among millions of people; but, unfortunately, all of this adds up and the planet can no longer sustain this. This is my biggest challenge.

7. One favourite thing you love or have discovered in your duty station? 

Peru is a naturally rich country, a laboratory for environmental management. Due to our diversity in regions and cultures, it is incumbent upon us to take advantage of the emerging opportunities be innovative when facing the problems that arise.

Our country has been enjoying a sustained economic growth in recent years, which allows us to stop finding excuses, to increasingly improve things and to begin to set the example in the region.

8. From the time you’ve been in UNDP, name your favourite UNDP result 

I am very proud of the good results the COP20 Project has achieved. The challenge is to fulfil the expectations created by the project and to translate them into a sustainable development agenda. The Peru Office is aware of this challenge and is committed to support the Peruvian State to achieve this goal.

At a more personal level, I am proud to be the Programme Officer. It allows me to work with an excellent group of people who are focused on the same goal.

9. Three things on your work wish list which would empower you to deliver more effective results for work?

  1. More training in themes in which I am not an expert, in order to provide more support
  2. To have more time to be able to review the materials brought into the office
  3. More time and space to be able to share experiences with colleagues from other areas and to generate ideas


Climate change and disaster risk reduction Energy Drylands and desertification Sustainable development Latin America & the Caribbean Peru

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