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Not many Young Papua New Guineans can say they have graced the streets of New York or had the privilege of attending a meeting in the United Nations Headquarters in New York. But this is an experience Mr. Isaac Sope can proudly claim for himself.

Goroka’s Isaac Sope is one of 18 Young Innovator Fellows for the United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA) and had the opportunity to represent Papua New Guinea and the Asia-Pacific region during an orientation which brought together all Young Innovator Fellows from across the globe to meet the senior leadership, build a global community, and inspire innovation. Fellows were able to learn about how UNFPA operates globally to complement their country assignments and they were afforded the opportunity to meet with the UNFPA colleagues based at UN headquarters and learn about the work of various teams and their portfolios. 

“Talking with senior management at UNFPA helped broaden my aspirations and goals to be more globally oriented, and not just limit myself to PNG,” said Mr Sope. “It taught me to be more confident, to be creative and innovative with my work, and deliver results with this opportunity.”

“Interacting with other Fellows from 17 other countries, with their different professional backgrounds and how they planned to use it to innovate and implement projects in their countries, also helped me clarify my ideas for innovation for my country.”

With his Bachelors in Tropical Agriculture, Isaac plans to use agriculture as an entry point to address maternal deaths in the country. Since the majority of the population is situated in rural areas and depend heavily on local produce, linking our agriculture to the mandate of UNFPA’s work in maternal health sets the stage for sustainable solutions to ending maternal deaths.

“My innovative project would be to link nutrition to maternal and child mortality in Papua New Guinea, and develop localised solutions or approaches to address nutrition problems.”

“I hope to achieve this before November with the support and tools from the UNFPA country office that will enable me to successfully carry out my research,” said Mr Sope.

The results and findings from this nutrition innovation will then be presented to the UNFPA Headquarters in New York in November of this year.

Isaac Sope thanked UNFPA for the opportunity to be part of the Fellowship program and the Country Representative, Senior Management and staff in the country office for their support, encouragement and motivation.


About the Young Innovators Program

The Young Innovators Fellowship Programme provides young people (aged 18–26) from UNFPA-supported programme countries with the opportunity to engage in a structured eight-month programme to drive innovation, creativity, and capacity development and to deliver concrete results in UNFPA.

The Fellowship Programme provides an opportunity to bring 18 young professionals into UNFPA with a dedicated focus on both providing a youth perspective and driving innovation in UNFPA’s priority areas, including addressing unmet need for family planning, ending preventable maternal deaths, and ending violence against women and girls.