Shelter is a partnership between Arcadis and UN-Habitat aimed at a common goal: to improve the quality of life of citizens in rapidly growing cities around the world. We are very excited to highlight one of our Arcadian’s stories’ who went on a Shelter mission recently. In this blog post we feature the experience of the Shelter mission of Bram Masseur who traveled from Amersfoort, The Netherlands to Laos.
Introducing Bram Masseur
Bram Masseur is a Senior Contract Management Advisor at Arcadis in the Netherlands. Bram initially studied physics but decided not to pursue it as a career, because he did not want to work in solitude. His need to work with others led Bram into the construction field and ultimately to join Arcadis.
“I realized that I wanted to work in teams and that has been the best part of my job here at Arcadis. I work with great people. I thrive off the support I give and receive from my colleagues. It motivates me each day. But we also get to work on the best projects around the world and that is a source of pride that we all share. I’m so glad I decided to change my career path.”
Bram Masseur about his Shelter adventure in Laos
Bram tells us about his Shelter experience in Laos: “I see the world as a village, and I am driven to see as much of this village as possible. That’s part of the reason I applied for the Arcadis Shelter mission to Laos. I was part of a team of Arcadians helping UN Habitat manage projects to enhance the climate and disaster resilience of 189 remote villages. Significant effects of climate change can already be seen in Laos, with some areas experiencing a more than 1.7 degree increase in average temperature. The rainy seasons are shorter and people living in Laos are having to cope with stronger storms.”
“The team and I helped to improve UN Habitat proposals for funding, for projects to increase sustainable access to basic infrastructure systems and services. We were there to help the project managers show their progress in a structured way. With climate change already negatively impacting the lives of many people in Laos, we really wanted to make sure our work helped improve the situation. So, I was very pleased at the end of the mission when the project managers told us that our work would really help them do their jobs better.”
What was the objective of the Shelter Mission?
“The purpose of the mission was to support UN Habitat with setting up the Environmental and Social Safeguards Plan and to help with management tools enabling them to manage and report on the project. The project comprises drinking water facilities, sewage systems and improving access to 189 remote villages in the Salavan, Sekong and Atapeu provinces in the south of Laos.
This project is financially supported by the Adaptation Fund, which was established under the Kyoto Protocol of the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change. The Fund requires 15 social and environmental safeguards, like involving women and indigenous groups and preventing pollution and deforestation. To manage and report these safeguards, we helped UN Habitat with setting up a strategy, using the right data and introducing them to and familiarizing them with management tools, like a results tracker, an improvement tool and a project planner.”
Tell us about the best part of your Shelter Mission
“The collaboration was very pleasant, and UN Habitat was happy with our contribution. It was a unique experience, working in Laos, going on a field trip to some of the villages, speaking to the villagers and collaborating with both UN Habitat and Arcadis-colleagues from different regions.”
For Bram, one of the best things about the Shelter mission was working to improve quality of life, together with team of colleagues from around the world. Before he traveled to Laos, he didn’t know that Arcadians with his skills could also participate in the Shelter program. But this mission required a team that could step into a relatively unstructured environment, put processes in place and create order. The other members of the mission were Ishita Chelliah, who worked to improve environmental and social safeguards plans, and Olga Feldman, who worked to improve the overall data collection and management (see picture below). Bram created a results tracker, as well as a visual representation of the tracker in the office, so that workers could see the progress being made.
“I think Shelter is a great part of Arcadis. All companies need to give back to society and we do more than just give money. We lend the expertise of our people. And Shelter is open to all Arcadians, not just technically skilled people like engineers. Everyone can take part. My expertise as a contract manager was also useful. I was happy I could help improve quality of life for people who really needed my help.”
Are you interested in doing a Shelter workshop yourself, or would you like to apply for a Shelter mission? Check out the Shelter website or their Intranet page for more information and for signing up. If you have any questions, reach out to firstname.lastname@example.org.
Also read our other stories of Arcadians about their Shelter missions: