A Stroll with Gari Donn, Executive Director, UN House Scotland

In July 2017, The Stroll Live was in Edinburgh, Scotland to engage leaders from the Scottish capital including, Rt Hon Ken Macintosh, Presiding Officer, Scottish Parliament (Watch out for the episode with him shortly).

In this episode I speak with Dr Gari Donn, Executive Director, UN House Scotland (UNH). Before her time at UNH, Dr Donn worked in the Academia teaching development in a couple of Universities in the UK, amongst other things. We talk about the work UNH does, her advice to millennials interested in development and diplomacy, and of course the SDGs.

I hope you enjoy (and learn from) our conversation.

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Ebenezar: Tell us a bit about UN House Scotland

Gari: The UN House (UNH) Scotland is a Civil Society entity working under the Scottish registered charity Caledonia International Development Trust. UNH has two main foci — firstly, it provides office space for charities and NGOs working in support of the values and goals of the UN.

Additionally, those based at UNH (voluntary staff and interns) address all three pillars of the UN by organizing meetings, seminars, conferences, research papers, website entries, blogs on sustainable development, human rights, peace and security.

This is made possible through internship programmes

1. Resident interns (in office for 2–4months)

2. Intern professional mentor programme (a professional mentor oversees work and development of young graduates who wish to work in finance, human resources, fundraising, digital industries)

3. Volunteers (young graduates/school leavers who wish to acquire office skills before the start of their search for careers)

Ebenezar: Are there some interesting projects UN House is currently working on?

Gari: Yes, some of our current projects include;

Model United Nations — working with Education Scotland, teacher training, Scottish Parliament and Government to roll out MUNs in all schools in Scotland.

Conferences on nuclear non-proliferation/disarmament; international development; climate change; education; health; poverty reduction — in fact, over the next few years we wish to address all 17 SDGs

Seminars on pathways to peace in Russia Ukraine, Iran, Syria, Yemen

Seminars on human rights, human trafficking, Eritrea and models of development

Website innovation and regular blog entries plus links to relevant international organizations and news

Database of expertise: so UNH has a team who responds to media inquiries

Dr Gari Donn speaking at the Scottish GERM launch event at the University of Edinburgh (Credit: Heather Emond)

Ebenezar: Let’s talk about you now, how did you get to where you are today?

Gari: Having a first degree in Politics, Philosophy and Economics, Masters in Sociological theory, Phd in History of nuclear energy, I worked in academic posts in Oxford, Sussex, and Edinburgh universities. I also held the higher education position at Commonwealth Secretariat.

Through these posts I have lived in various countries and travelled quite widely.

Ebenezar: Advice to Young People hoping to work in development

Gari: Take every opportunity as it arises, seize possibilities for networking and go to events, even when you don’t think they are particularly relevant for you. They often turn out to be.

Photo Credit: Heather Emond

Ebenezar: #MySDGs: What’s your favourite SDG and how you will contribute to its achievement by 2030

Gari: SDG 16, Peace Security and Strong Institutions — international law is so important and without common agreement our world would be chaotic — even more chaotic.

Ebenezar: Thank you for your time, Dr Donn

Gari: Thank you so much for having me, Ebenezar

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Food for the Soul: “The LORD himself goes before you and will be with you; he will never leave you nor forsake you. Do not be afraid; do not be discouraged.” (Deuteronomy 31:8)

Next episode, I’ll be strolling with Rt Hon Ken Macintosh, Presiding Officer of the Scottish Parliament. See you next Saturday

Read about how I interviewed over 120 world leaders and experts using my mobile phone

See previous episodes of The Stroll Live here