Interviewed by Anel Arapova
Meet our Talent, Tatiana Chernyavskaya, Industrial Development Expert at UNIDO. In this interview, she talks about the rising trend of environmental activism, the role of gender equality in achieving the Sustainable Development Goals and Paris Agreement Goals and redefining leadership as an important aspect of inclusiveness and empowerment.
You have extensive experience working for various structures within the United Nations. Could you tell us more about your career journey and what your current role as an Industrial Development Expert at the United Nations International Development Organisation (UNIDO) entails?
My journey in the United Nations started in 2004 when I joined the UN Economic Commission for Europe (UNECE) as an intern in the Trade and Timber Division. After the internship, I joined the Gender Advisor of its Executive Secretary, which allowed me to contribute to the Beijing +10 conference. Personally, it was very inspiring to see how Eastern European and CIS countries were approaching the matter of gender equality and giving women a greater role as powerful participants in economic development.
During my 17 years working in the UN system, I also worked in UN University which is headquartered in Tokyo, Japan. It was truly a great opportunity for me to engage with research on the UN sister agencies and contribute as a Research Associate. My work has mainly focused on how the 2008 financial crisis affected economic development and the environmental agenda.
I first came to UNIDO as part of a project focusing on public private partnerships for infrastructure and sustainability to contribute to a regional programme on technology foresight and innovation. That work gave me an opportunity to learn about the key activities of the Organisation and how industries can contribute to economic growth and development. It was what brought me to the UNIDO Headquarters in Vienna, Austria.
Currently, I am working as a Project Coordinator of the EU4Environment programme. Founded by the EU, the programme is dedicated to greening the economies of six Eastern Partnership countries. Particularly at UNIDO, this comprehensive programme is responsible for circular economy and new growth opportunities. This allows us to work directly with small and medium-sized enterprises to help them achieve higher resource efficiency, as well as their sustainability goals.
A significant portion of your work is centred around questions of sustainability and the environment. What are the biggest current trends and challenges in the field? At UNIDO, what do the intersections between international development and sustainability topics look like?
Environment and sustainability issues definitely have become top priorities in recent years. It will not be news to anyone that most issues are centred around decarbonisation. The Paris Agreement has highlighted that responsibility does not only lie with industries, but also various sectors like transportation and energy.
One major aspect that cannot go unnoticed is that more and more trends are not only driven by policy or frameworks but by people’s behaviour. There is a rising movement of environmental activism, calls for more ethical consumption, and a change in the global vision for our world. Another trend related to industries is the focus on supply chains as critical elements in the agenda.
Moreover, all of this is now linked to digitalisation. While providing impactful tools for services, it allows us to be less dependent on many established patterns that have historically negatively affected the environment.
My daily work consists mainly of informing and building the capacity of stakeholders to introduce these new trends in their processes and translate them into tangible actions. Across industries, all the tools are available to bring profitability and sustainability together. Now, since we see that economic growth cannot go without serious environmental considerations,: ESG criteria and circular economy are becoming the driving forces for change in industries.
If we continued developing at this pace, we would need three planets by 2050. That is why sustainable instruments and decisions are at the core of economic development.
If we continued developing at this pace,
we would need three planets by 2050.
That is why sustainable instruments and
decisions are at the core of economic development.
You coordinate the EU4Environment programme in Eastern Partnership Countries. Could you tell us a bit more about the programme and its main objectives? Since its launch in 2019, what notable milestones have been reached?
EU4Environment is a programme that unites several UN Agencies, the OECD, and the World Bank with the main goal of incorporating environmental matters into the heart of policies, decision making, economic and development agendas of six EU neighbouring countries: , Armenia, Azerbaijan Belarus, Georgia, the Republic of Moldova, and Ukraine.
All partners of the programme bring their own unique knowledge and agenda, which are combined to look at different aspects of sustainability in the Eastern Europe region. In particular, UNIDO’s work is driven by its mandate to inclusive and sustainable industrial development. We work directly with enterprises promoting resource efficiency, greener production, and new opportunities stemming from a focus on circular economy.
In 2020 and 2021, we had to go through quite a rapid transformation in order to continue showcasing efficient use of resources to enterprises in the countries. Nonetheless, due to the digital tools put in place, we could use them as another instrument of interaction.
Regardless of the challenges, I am very happy to admit that enterprises have continued to accept and support the green agenda as an issue of high importance. The crisis has also helped a lot of them see that sustainable practices add resilience and efficiency to daily business operations.
In your opinion, what is the role of gender equality in achieving the UN Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) and Paris Agreement Goals?
There is no doubt that gender equality is a very important aspect of development. Gender equality is at the core of SDG 5 and the reason for that is quite simple: we cannot speak about development if we exclude half of the world population.
Moreover, when coupling gender equality as presented by the UN and the goals set by the Paris Agreement, two things can be highlighted. On one hand, it is imperative that we speak of the impact that climate change has on rural areas where women are the main caregivers. On the other hand, due to our unconscious biases, we often exclude women from important decision making when, in reality, their differentiated perspectives give key insights into how the issue might be tackled.
At the core of this is education. In particular, STEM fields are sometimes thought of as not attractive to girls and women. For issues related to climate change where innovation and technology play such an important role in finding a solution, the inclusion of women becomes a defining factor. In my opinion, to see positive change in our efforts to mitigate climate change, women’s opinion and role in decision making need to not only be considered, but also made more visible.
Gender equality is at the core of SDG 5 and
the reason for that is quite simple:
we cannot speak about development if we exclude
half of the world population represented by women.
You are a participant in the 6th edition of the Women Talent Pool Leadership Programme. What were your motivations for joining and has anything you have learnt whilst on the programme surprised you?
I was interested in leadership concepts from an early age. In school, I would easily take on different leadership roles and responsibilities. However, for some reason, leadership and my work did not coincide until I started reading more on the topic of professional development. WTP’s 6th edition became a great trigger for me to start considering leadership as a norm rather than a separate and unreachable domain.
The first surprise came to me at the programme’s opening. During her speech, Petra De Sutter spoke of leadership as an internal power to bring people together and inspire each other with openness and ease. She was very articulate when speaking about the internal barriers that we tend to create for ourselves over becoming leaders, not only in professional teams but also within families and social groups. What struck me as interesting was the reframing of leadership as a tool to empower people from within.
During the programme itself, the variety of sessions on personal development, acceptance, and mindful decision making was a pleasant discovery. It showed me the importance of soft skills that we have a tendency to disregard in our education and professional development. For me, this helped me redefine leadership as an important aspect of inclusiveness and empowerment.
WTP’s 6th edition became a great trigger
for me to start considering leadership as a norm
rather than a separate and unreachable domain.
You are currently based in Vienna, Austria. What attracted you to the city and what are your favourite things about it? What does a perfect day there look like for you?
Coming here to work for UNIDO, I was pleasantly surprised by how welcoming Vienna is. I consider myself very blessed to be given this opportunity since Vienna is an absolutely beautiful city where music and cultural heritage are represented all around you.
Vienna has an ideal location with the mountains and the seaside all being only a few hours away. There are so many festivals and events that cater to families with kids. Learning German obviously helps a lot when it comes to integrating into the city and discovering all it has to offer.
A perfect day for me would start with a brunch at the Naschmarkt where you can find anything from fresh produce to oysters with champagne. It could be followed by a leisurely walk either through the old centre or around the parks surrounding the city. A highlight could be the City Park (Stadtpark) which has a very beautiful pond with all sorts of birds.
In the afternoon, one can choose an activity close to one’s heart. For those looking for a hiking opportunity, the famous Wiener Wald (Vienna Forest) and vineyards in the 18th and the 19th districts could be a great challenge to take on. In the evening, the State Opera can be a great choice for music lovers.
Video edited by Dovilė Bogušytė