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Tarek Abdel Monem – Knowledge Management and Reporting Specialist (Climate Change Focal Point), UN-Habitat Regional Office for Arab States

I graduated from the School of Agriculture, Policy and Development in 2015 with an MSc in Environment and Development. I have always been interested in working in development, and after finishing my master's, I was fortunate enough to secure a job at the Centre for Environment and Development for the Arab Region and Europe (CEDARE), an inter-governmental organisation.

I worked at CEDARE's headquarter office in Cairo, Egypt. During my time there, I had the opportunity to work as a contributing author for a very significant UN Environment publication; this has probably been one of the key achievements since leaving Reading.

After this, I left CEDARE and joined UN-Habitat based in Cairo where I now work as a Knowledge Management and Reporting Specialist. UN-Habitat is the United Nations programme working towards a better urban future. Its mission is to promote socially and environmentally sustainable human settlements development and the achievement of adequate shelter for all. UN-Habitat believes that urbanisation can be a solution rather than a problem, and it aims to encourage sustainable urbanisation.

My role here is very diverse - I am responsible for identifying and synthesising best practices and lessons learned from projects and programmes at country and regional levels. I am also involved in knowledge and information facilitation, and I manage the progress of our projects with a special focus on climate change and urban issues.

I have always believed that working in development would be very challenging, and so I thought doing postgraduate studies at the University of Reading would enhance my understanding of its complexities. My expectations were far exceeded; studying the MSc Environment and Development course was an enriching experience.

I thoroughly enjoyed the programme, the group was amazing and very diverse, and I was very lucky to have Andrew Ainslie as the head of my programme as I really learned a lot from him academically and personally. The campus environment is also beautiful, and being so close to London meant I could meet even more friends.

Studying at Reading benefited me in various aspects. From an academic point of view, I have learned a lot about issues related to environment and development. The professors and supervisors were great in helping me write my dissertation, which looked at agricultural adaptation to rising  sea levels in Egypt.

From a personal point of view, I have been exposed to a lot of cultural aspects introduced by my peers from all over the world. I made a lot of friends and I am happy that we stay in touch.

I would describe my experience at Reading as "life changing", and studying here has definitely got me to where I want to be. I love my job and the work I do related to climate change in the Arab region is something I am very passionate about. In addition to my key achievements since leaving University, I would also have to say that marrying my wife last year has been the highlight for me.