Haneul Kim, international UN University Volunteer with UNDP’s Global Environment Facility Small Grants Programme in Uzbekistan. (UNV, 2016)

Leaving a positive mark on the planet

Haneul Kim served as an international UN University Volunteer on Communications with UNDP’s Global Environment Facility Small Grants Programme (GEF SGP) in Uzbekistan. She developed a cartoon series to explain, clearly and simply, how the work of GEF SGP benefits plants and the earth. Her UNV assignment was fully funded by the Korea International Cooperation Agency (KOICA).

If I can describe the work of the Global Environment Facility Small Grants Programme in one sentence, I would say that it works for both the protection of the environment and development. Most people would think that protecting the environment is something that distracts society from developing technologies, facilities, and the making of profits. However, GEF SGP is the place where we research how to do both simultaneously.

Let me give you an example. Imagine yourself in the primitive age. You are walking along the forest. Even though you did not plant or plan to plant, you can find fruits and vegetables. What if we come back to the present? You can find farmers mixing up the soil. They are cultivating, which means they make the fertile soil inside go out, and the dry soil outside go in.

Why don’t we just adapt the idea of how nature grew trees in ancient times?

No-till farming comes from this simple idea. As soil in Uzbekistan is fertile even without cultivating, farmers can use no-till farming to plant seeds without mixing the soil in and out, but just by making a sharp cut where seeds can be planted.

Does it sound fascinating? Well, we have more stories to tell. That is why I came up with the cartoon Adventure of Seed. 

“Once upon a time, there was a seed called Seed. When Seed realized that where it was born was a cultivated land, Seed started the journey to find a good place to live.” This is the basic concept of ‘The Adventure of Seed’ cartoon, which was uploaded on GEF SGP’s Facebook page

At first, it was an idea for myself to understand our projects better. However, I realized that people who visited our website would also need an easy way to learn what we were doing. Therefore, I decided to make a cartoon explaining how we benefit plants and the earth.

My life as a UN Volunteer was full of creativity. As the GEF SGP team made the atmosphere very comforting, I was able to present any ideas, and they always tried to find a way to make them real. 

It has been a short but amazing six months for me because I was part of the team. This is why I don’t want to stop here, but will continue to collaborate through the UNV Online Volunteering service. I hope that a lot of the people who wish to leave a positive mark on this planet will apply to become a UN Volunteer and see how they can make the world a better place.