Meet Our Seminar Participants: A New Series

Every year, the U.S. Forest Service International Programs hosts a series of seminars on a variety of topics, from climate change to watershed management, attended by participants from countries worldwide. The seminars take place in the United States, but those in attendance work with the U.S. Forest Service International Programs in over 90 countries. The goal of the seminars is to help participants gain technical experience, expand their professional networks, and implement change in their home countries. Those selected to attend work in government ministries and non-governmental organizations and have been recognized as leaders or potential leaders in their fields.

This week, as part of a new series of profiles, we meet Patrick OKITAYELA SHOLONGO from the Democratic Republic of the Congo, who attended the Climate Change and Natural Resources Seminar in 2018.



Seminar Attended: 2018 Climate Change and Natural Resources Seminar held in Washington D.C. and California

Current Job: Senior Technical Assistant at the National Coordination of Clean Development Mechanism and Green Climate Fund

Background: Master’s degree in Development and Environment with a focus on Management of Protected Areas

What do you do for fun?

I like playing football with my children.

What is one thing about you that others might be surprised to learn?

During my free time, I give computer lessons to students in schools where I do environmental education.

If you could give one piece of advice to young professionals in your field, what would it be?

I would advise young professionals, especially those in the Democratic Republic of the Congo, to improve their English. Currently, at the international level in the environmental field, negotiations, trainings, and job opportunities most often are in English.

In Patrick’s work as a Senior Technical Assistant, he is tasked with analyzing and approving projects submitted to the National Coordination for the Green Climate Fund, budgeting, and managing logistics. He is also a focal point at the Ministry of Energy and Hydraulic Resources, supporting the Unit of Coordination and Management of projects (UCM) to become an accredited entity of the Green Climate Fund and a National Implementation Entity of the Adaptation Fund. The mission of the National Coordination of Clean Development Mechanism and Green Climate Fund is to serve as an interface between stakeholders (NGOs, public, and private sector groups) and the Green Climate Fund. They work with these groups to help them through the project submission process so that they can get their climate-friendly projects and programs funded.

Patrick’s daily motivation comes from his dedication to the sustainable management of the environment. Despite funding challenges at work, Patrick and his colleagues were able to make significant headway, and continue to fight for a greener future for the DRC.

For Patrick, the biggest take-away from the U.S. Forest Service seminar he attended was the valuable skills he gained in Geospatial Information Systems (GIS). Many of the project leaders he works with do not have the means or skills to be able to develop the mapping systems required as part of the Green Climate Fund. At the seminar, Patrick was able to learn about Story Maps, a user-friendly, open-source site which uses Arc-GIS to help people build customized maps. Patrick was able to introduce his partners to this tool, which proved to be invaluable in helping them be able to create and share maps of their project sites.

Charcoal is the main source of cooking fuel in the DRC, and an increasing demand for it is threatening forests all over the country. Photo courtesy of Olivia Freeman, U.S. Forest Service International Programs.

“I met Patrick at the climate seminar,” recalled Richard Paton, U.S. Forest Service Central Africa program coordinator, “and was immediately impressed by his engagement with the professional learning opportunities and connecting with his new-found network of peers.”

As he moves forward in his career, Patrick is looking forward to continuing his work with the Management Unit of the Ministry of Energy and Hydraulic Resources, and hopes to help them become an accredited entity of the Green Climate Fund, thus allowing his country to have a national structure through which it can obtain funding for climate change mitigation and adaptation projects.

The U.S. Forest Service International Programs has been sponsoring professionals in Central Africa to attend seminars since 2006. Supporting the capacity building and professional development of government and non-government organizations is an essential step in helping countries improve natural resource management and mitigate the effects of climate change. The U.S. Forest Service is committed to working with partners to offer specialized programs, tools, and opportunities to help them succeed in protecting and preserving their forests and natural resources.

To learn more about U.S. Forest Service Seminars, please click here.

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