The testimony of Massimo Fortunato

The “René Cassin”: A fundamental opportunity for my professional growth

Massimo Fortunato

I surely had many expectations about my professional future when I obtained my Master’s degree in International Relations and Diplomatic Affairs in March 2013 (University of Bologna, Italy). As many other young men, I also nurtured many uncertainties on how I could find an entry-level job to put into useful practice what I had learned during my university studies.

The first real opportunity came with the René Cassin Award, promoted by the Legislative Assembly of the Emilia-Romagna Region in collaboration with KIP International School. Indeed, I took part and won the 2013 edition of the Prize with my thesis on the “Right to Food”, written under the supervision of Prof. Marco Balboni and Prof. Maura de Bernart. The award gave me the opportunity to move to El Salvador and collaborate with the Local Economic Development Agency of La Unión, located in the eastern part of the central American country, for a period of 10 months.

Once in El Salvador, I started working on the formulation and implementation of local development projects, with a focus on the sustainable development of micro and small enterprises, valorizing endogenous potential and empowering local value-chains. Professionally enriched from this experience, at the end of 2014 I also won the Fellowships Programme for Technical Cooperation Capacity Building and Human Resources Development implemented by the United Nations’ Department of Economic and Social Affairs (UN/DESA) and sponsored by the Italian Government (more information here).

Thanks to the UN Fellowship, I had the privilege to keep working in El Salvador for the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP), as the local development ART Initiative Coordinator and the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development Focal Point (the 2030 Agenda was approved on 25 September 2015 by the United Nations General Assembly, more information here). This new experience proved to be complementary to the previous, giving me the chance to understand and interpret local development dynamics from a national and international standpoint.

In 2015, thanks to the preceding work realized on the 2030 Agenda, I kept collaborating with UNDP in El Salvador as the Technical Advisor on the issue, working with more than seventy public institutions and dozens of private enterprises and civil society organizations for the implementation of the 2030 Agenda in the country. Among other responsibilities, I designed and developed training activities on the 2030 Agenda and brought technical assistance for the creation of the first SDGs’ monitoring and evaluation framework in El Salvador, in collaboration and coordination with UN Agencies, Funds and Programmes operating in the country.

Thinking about the last years of life and work abroad, I realize how the René Cassin Award proved to be fundamental to my professional growth. I consider this initiative as a valid example of how proper collaboration between different institutions can achieve results difficult to attain otherwise. Thanks to such an opportunity, I also became more aware of my potential as a professional as well as the dedication, enthusiasm and passion that are needed to convert good intentions into real opportunities: not only to keep growing and working in this sector but also, and more importantly, to serve with professionalism those people and causes we can have the honor to contribute to and measure ourselves with.


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