How did I become a consultant at the Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO) of the UN in Rome

February 20, 2020

Batch-10 graduate from Mexico, Isaac Guzman Estrada talks about how MESPOM enabled his journey from a background in sustainable transportation to being a consultant at the Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO) of the UN in Rome.

What are you currently doing?

I am a consultant at the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO), based in Rome, Italy. In specific, I work with the EX-Ante Carbon-balance Tool (EX-ACT) -which is a land-based accounting system, estimating C-stock changes (i.e. emissions or sinks of CO2) as well as GHG emissions of agricultural, forestry and other land-use (AFOLU) projects, programmes and policies. I support the EX-ACT team with climate mitigation analyses for projects related to sustainable agriculture and agri-food value chains. Additionally, I deliver workshops and maintain the EX-ACT and EX-ACT Value Chain (an augmented version of the EX-ACT which focus on post-harvest and downstream emissions and socio-economic impacts).

How did you get to know of this opportunity?

The job position came to my attention by a colleague from my former job in Mexico’s City Ministry of Environment. He knew about my interest in food-related topics and climate change. He shared with me the link of the vacancy and from there on I was immersed in the UN recruiting process. 

Any future plans?

Not a defined one. However, I steer to continue in climate-food related topics. Urban food systems for instance, or food, energy, water nexus. Most of my professional activity has been focused on sustainable cities and I would like to go back to it.

How did MESPOM influence your journey?

When I was considering applying for a master’s degree abroad, I wanted to choose the best fit for me. My background was in sustainable transportation, but I wanted to expand my knowledge to different environmental sectors (i.e. food; energy). I was eager to learn new holistic approaches (i.e. circular economy; food, water, energy nexus). MESPOM, delivered. Being in -at least- three different universities it is easy to be immersed in different teaching methods in and out of the classroom. I can recall several field visits in Sweden and Greece. The sum of all the activities, teachings, and assignments have been paying off.

On the other hand, being in Hungary at a particularly turbulent time, made me more conscious and involved in other important struggles (i.e. gender studies, nationalism, academic freedom). These other areas also need to be accounted for if we seek a more sustainable world –let us remember that environment is only one leg of the equation, society, and economic imbalances will affect the environmental one.

View to Palatino Hill from FAO Headquarters in Rome, Italy.