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Focus on climate

Mar 29, 2016
by Bobbie Stewart

Flagler alumna Margaret Fenwick’s dogged determination to achieve her dream job of working for the United Nations landed her at the forefront of the climate change issue last fall — at COP21, the 2015 Paris Climate Conference.

“The tone of the event was serious, but it was truly inspiring to see everyone working towards a common shared goal,” the 1996 grad said. “It was rewarding to see leading businesses on a global stage commit to invest, innovate and implement solutions for the new low-carbon economy.”

Her involvement in the conference, and in environmental issues of such scale, was a long-time coming.

“When I told a high-school friend I was working at the U.N., she recalled how decades ago I had said this was my dream job,” she said. “I don’t ever recall saying that, but ... when I made a list of the top 10 places I wanted to work, the U.N. was number one, and on the third try I was offered a position.”

She joined the intergovernmental organization as a graduate student intern in 2013 during her studies in Sustainable Development and Environmental Management at the Harvard University Extension School. The internship was followed by a fellowship, which was followed by a few short-term contracts.

Last year — two years after she began interning — she earned a full-time job in the office of the United Nations Global Compact, the world’s largest corporate sustainability initiative. She works with the Environment and Climate team and helps manage the Caring for Climate Initiative, the U.N.’s business leadership platform.

“Every day I work with colleagues from across the globe to make the world a safer, more sustainable and peaceful place,” she said. “I am surrounded by intelligent, determined and compassionate people who work tirelessly to promote human rights and sustainable development. My team works collaboratively, everyone’s input is valued, and decisions are often made together. Although there are times of stress and long work days, especially when a project or platform is launched, everyone’s patience and long-term vision helps us stay the course.”

Fenwick was at COP21 in Paris to help organize the Caring for Climate Business Forum, the official event for business at the Paris talks. The meeting was unique in that non-state actors — such as cities, regions, nongovernmental organizations and businesses — had an official role in the climate meetings. Featured speakers included John Kerry, the Secretary of State of the United States; U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon; as well as numerous CEOs and business leaders.

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