Sargam Goundar: Climate change key challenge for the Pacific
20Twenties Young Alumni Award recipient for her contribution to climate change initiatives and in recognition of her leadership. PGDipArts 2016.
What was your reaction to receiving the award, and what does it mean to you?
It came as a pleasant surprise! I am very humbled and honoured to receive the inaugural 20Twenties Young Alumni Award. The award is a motivation boost for me to continue working hard and to look upwards and onwards in these difficult times. Being a recipient of this award also means a great opportunity for me to connect with other recipients and alumni who have an amazing diversity of experience, talent and intellectual curiosity.
What have you done since graduation and what are you doing now?
My first position after graduating from Otago was at the United Nations Children's Fund (UNICEF). As a United Nations National Volunteer Research Officer, based at the Pacific regional office, my work contributed to protecting children's lives and rights, and supported children to reach their full potential.
Later, among a few other things, I took up the position of Senior Climate Change Officer for Knowledge Management and Adaptation at the Climate Change and International Cooperation Division, Ministry of Economy, in Fiji. Through my work at the Government of Fiji, I contributed to climate change adaptation advocacy work, negotiations, planning, policies, and projects.
Currently, I am a PhD candidate in Geography at the University of Otago. My PhD research project is about climate change, migration, and sustainable development in the Pacific.
What inspires and motivates you to work in the areas you are involved with?
My work is motivated by my passion to do my part in making this world a better place for the current and for future generations. Climate change is a key challenge to the development of the Pacific region and its people. Through my research, I aim to contribute to the much-needed data to combat climate change and related issues in order to positively contribute to society and the environment.
What are the highlights of your time at Otago, and how has it helped you in your career?
Otago is a home away from home for me. It was my first experience to study abroad and I thoroughly enjoyed it. My journey at Otago is still ongoing. I hope to grow my network and friendships further. However, looking back at the time when I was a postgraduate diploma student, I met and connected with an exceptional group of people with different aptitudes, drives and experiences. This motivates me to keep calm and carry on.