Out of dozens of countries and territories, Fiji was the only place he selected on his go-to list.
Three weeks into his new posting, he is totally in awe with the place. And he has yet to see the rest of the Pacific island member countries that UNDP Pacific covers and supports.
Levan Bouadze is the new Resident Representative of the ‘next generation’ UNDP Pacific Office in Fiji, following a separation between the UN Resident Coordinator’s office. A Georgian by descent, Levan has never been to the Pacific but enjoys the one thing that most Fijians love - rugby.
Before joining the Pacific office this July, Bouadze did stints in Uzbekistan, Slovakia, Geneva, Brussels, Belarus, New York and his home country Georgia.
“I started out as a national officer responsible for development programmes in the then recently established UNDP Office in Georgia in 1996. I was awarded a scholarship to pursue post-graduate studies in England, so I had to leave my post,” he said. However, after completing my Masters, I rejoined UNDP at the Regional Centre in Bratislava, Slovakia, as an economic adviser for development programmes in Eastern Europe.”
Soon after, he was transferred to UNCTAD in Geneva where he supported civil society participation in trade and development dialogues. In 2002, he returned to UNDP, as Assistant Resident Representative in Uzbekistan. That was followed by a string of posts: Deputy Resident Representative in Belarus, and Head of Management Support with the Bureau of External Relations and Advocacy, and Head of Policy and Operations Support with the Regional Bureau for Europe and Central Asia, both in New York.
Two weeks after his arrival in Fiji, Bouadze and new deputy resident representative Karin Takeuchi hosted members of the media for lunch, to meet with them and see how UNDP could better engage in disseminating vital information on key issues, in Fiji and the region.
“UNDP acknowledges the important role that the media plays in advocating development issues, empowering people’s lives and building resilient nations,” Bouadze said. “UNDP’s aim is to couple our development expertise with innovation to help countries achieve the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) faster.”
Climate Change remains the main focus for the Pacific region, and Bouadze stressed that the issue is a UNDP priority. “We are committed in supporting countries to adapt to and mitigate the risks from climate change,” he added.
In Fiji, UNDP has been working with Parliament on a range of issues including the monitoring and implementation of the SDGs.
“Fiji has been acknowledged as a global leader in integrating SDGs into everyday work in parliament. With its experience, it is now called upon by other Pacific Parliaments to share its knowledge and expertise.”
“Furthermore, UNDP has had successful programmes in preserving biodiversity and building climate resilience, and inclusive and sustainable job creation for vulnerable groups,” Bouadze added.
In the broader Pacific, UNDP’s sub-regional strategy 2018 – 2022, sets out three broad priority areas for UNDP work: climate change, disaster resilience and environmental protection; effective governance for service delivery; and sustainable and inclusive economic empowerment.
In Fiji, UNDP is working with government to take stock of all opportunities available to finance development ambitions, in pursuit of national plans and goals.
For the UNDP Communications Team, the event was a great opportunity to meet and engage with media colleagues and reaffirm ties.
“We believe that the media brings together all sectors in society to commit themselves to improving people’s lives. The media is a valued partner in our work and their role in enhancing regional dissemination of information is paramount,” said Takeuchi, the Deputy Resident Representative.
Takeuchi also transitioned into her new DRR role in early July. Prior to this, she was the Chief, Strategy, Planning and Results at UNDP Afghanistan.
Bouadze presented his credentials to the Minister for Foreign Affairs Hon. Inia Seruiratu early July, reaffirming UNDP’s continued engagement with the Government and partners in achieving the SDGs.