SDD Community Update

Loris Kempchen

Are you currently doing a thesis or an internship?

I am currently doing an internship with the GIZ African Union office in Addis Ababa in Ethiopia in a project called Strengthening Advisory Capacities for Land Governance (SLGA).

Where on the globe are you?

I am in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, Africa!

What is the topic you’re working on?

In a broader sense I am working on the topic of land governance/land policy in Africa. It relates to SDD as the project I am working with is collaborating with various different institutional partners and I witness the merit as well as the challenges of such an approach on a daily basis.

What do you like about your thesis/internship?

I like the working environment, my colleagues as well as my current living situation (with 4 housemates in a nice house). Moreover, I really enjoy the content of my internship, as it animates me to plenty of ideas about my thesis; now my job is to make something substantial out of the initial ideas! 😉

What don’t you like?

It is quite trivial, but so far I do not really like the weather or rather the environmental conditions of Addis. It is quite fresh temperature wise, and the city is very dirty and polluted, which makes it hard to breathe considering also the altitude (2200 M).

Do you have a funny, weird or interesting story to share?

An interesting story is probably the political situation that Ethiopia currently faces. There seems to be a lot of social unrest in the rest of the country (you don’t really realise much in the capital), which apparently is linked in many cases to land disputes between the population and the government. I think that this proves that land issues are a major factor to consider when it comes to sustainable development, therefore I hope to further explore and make evident, not only in my internship and master thesis, the link between land governance and SDD.

loris_internship

 

Hein Gevers

Are you currently doing a thesis or an internship? 

Thesis

Where on the globe are you?

Utrecht, The Netherlands

What is the topic you’re working on?

Water Diplomacy and Global Governance

What do you like about your thesis/internship?

I love that it involves new developments in water governance, aiming to reach Global Goals through encouraging local action.

What don’t you like?

The downside is not knowing whether and when those words spoken on the global stage will be converted into meaningful change. Patience may be a virtue, but 663 million people without access to safe water cannot wait.

hein_internship

 

Yanniek Huisman

Are you currently doing a thesis or an internship? 

Currently I am doing a four-month internship at the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) secretariat.

Where on the globe are you?

Since the secretariat is situated in Bonn (Germany), I also live there.

What is the topic you’re working on?

The main topic of my internship is South-South cooperation (SSC) on climate change. This is a relatively new, but definitely interesting topic. Cooperation among Southern countries has existed for many years already, but the term SSC is relatively new. In the field of climate change SSC is not much developed yet, but there is an increasing need in order to implement the countries’ (I)NDCs. My main task is to read and analyze as much literature as possible on the topic, go through all the (I)NDCs to identify whether countries mention SSC and address specific needs, and to find interesting case studies of SSC on climate change. My supervisor has asked me to become an expert on this topic, so hopefully I will have a deeper understanding of the topic at the end of my internship. In addition to this, I have also done several different other tasks, ranging from filling in databases about climate funds, several graphical design projects and helping out with other small tasks.

What do you like about your thesis/internship?

It is definitely interesting to see how the UNFCCC secretariat functions and to contribute to implementing the Paris Agreement. I like the conversations with my supervisor about various topics, which gives a deeper insight in the organization but also on the importance of climate change in the whole global political arena. It is quite visible that the Paris Agreement has changed a lot and therefore one also gets the feeling that the work being done is useful. yanniek1_internship

What don’t you like?

Not all the days are particularly entertaining. Mostly it is just doing desk work which can become boring at some points. Almost all of the work I have done so far is definitely useful and understandable work for an intern, but that does not mean it is always fun to do. However, there is quite some freedom to decide what to do so I hope I am able to do some more diverse work in the coming months.

Do you have a funny, weird or interesting story to share?

I think there are a couple of interesting things to mention here, both work and personal related:

  • My supervisor said that perhaps the most important lesson to take away from this internship is the politics of it all. Whether it is about who will be the next secretary-general of the UN, how important the UNFCCC secretariat still is after reaching the Paris Agreement or the way money influences the UN or other organisations, there is always an interplay of relations, power and money. While this might not directly affect your work every day, it is important to realize there are always reasons things are happening the way they are.
  • One thing that was a bit hard for was to find housing. I only received the internship offer two weeks before I started and luckily enough I was able to secure a room for the month of September. In September I visited around eight new rooms for the months of October until the end of December, but for various reasons they all did not work out. Luckily I was able to secure one two days before I had to move out of my old one, but it did take quite some time and effort. I might have been unlucky in my search, but there is quite some demand for rooms here from both interns and students. Nevertheless, I saw some different areas and I had ample opportunity to practice to my hopeless German, so in the end it was worth the investment.yanniek_internship

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Daphne Schalekamp 

Are you currently doing a thesis or an internship?

An internship as a visiting scholar at the Center for International Environment and Resource Policy (CIERP) in the Fletcher School of Law and Diplomacy.

Where on the globe are you?

In Boston, Massachussets, USA.

What is the topic you are working on?

I am taking two classes here at the Fletcher School:

  • Arts of Communication
  • Processes of International Negotiations

In addition will be writing an academic paper, but I am currently working on narrowing down my topic. It will probably relate to the debates and negotiations regarding the possible lift of the ivory trade ban at the CITES COP17 next week.

What do you like about your internship?

So far I have met a lot of other driven and ambitious people at the Fletcher School. There is a huge diversity in backgrounds, both culturaly and in academic expertise, which I think will lead to some interesting insights or lessons somewhere along the line. The classes I am taking are very focussed on developing practical skills (public speaking, negotiating). Also, the teachers of the classes I am taking are very engaging and inspiring.

What don’t you like?

Honestly, so far I don’t have any complaints. Classes so far have been challenging in a fun way. And I have only just started working on my paper, so there is not much too complain about that either.

Do you have a funny, weird or interesting story to share?

Getting to the USA was quite an intense experience. I’ve never felt like a criminal as much as on that trip. After going through customs and being cleared by the civil servant at immigrations (they have an American immigrations clearance at Dublin airport before you get on the intercontinental flight) I went to my gate and waited to get on the plain. But when the crew member of the airline scanned my ticket the machine started bleeping in an alarming manner. This bleeping meant I was selected for a random extra security check. So I had to go with a very large security man all the way back to customs to get my laptop and phone checked, get a body scan, get my palms checked for illegal substances and get frisked. Then I had to get my papers checked by another civil servant and get my name butchered for the second time  (Miss Daphney Diega Shailkemp?).

Of course I was not smuggling drugs, organs, wildlife, bombs, or anything like that, so I was cleared a second time.

However, when I arrived at Boston Logan Airport, one of my suitcases, which had all my clothes in it, did not arrive. It is lost till this day.

daphne_internship

Quinten Pellegrom

Are you currently doing a thesis or an internship?

Internship

Where on the globe are you?

Arnhem, the Netherlands

What is the topic you’re working on?

Soil restoration through afforestation in Southern and Eastern Europe by the use of new concept called Brickz.

What do you like about your thesis/internship?

Because Brickz is still in an early stage of development and testing, I get involved in all these new projects and pilots. I am working on three cases as we speak. Another very cool factor is that I can truly live the job that I want to get later on my career. I am an international project manager now!

What don’t you like?

I don’t have many colleagues because the consultancy agency is quite small, but because I have to do so much acquisition, I get to know enough people nonetheless!

Do you have a funny, weird or interesting story to share?

One of my colleagues, who is in his mid-fifties, is an active Pokémon Go player and often exclaims loudly when a Pokémon has appeared and immediately notifies me that I should grab my phone too.

quinten_internship

Amy Ching

Are you currently doing a thesis or an internship?

Internship

Where on the globe are you?

Washington DC, USA

What is/are the topic(s) you’re working on?

Climate governance and Land resources and rights

What do you like about your internship?

Many things! I like the challenging research assignments, the fact that I can attend conferences and workshops in and around DC; I like that I work in a very international office and get to work/meet with experts in water, climate, cities and forests everyday. Nerding out big time.

What don’t you like?

Doing research all day everyday can get monotonous at times, but luckily, by getting the chance to attend meetings and workshops it helps mix things up.

Do you have a funny, weird or interesting story to share?

The funny and weird things I’ve encountered haven’t necessarily taken place in the office, but rather in living the American way of life. For example, being asked ‘how are you’ and replying while the person has already moved on and is now ignoring you- and i’m like..oooh..k cool.bye. Or shopping for groceries in the supermarket and finding that all the vegetables are 3x the size of what you typically find in the AH and then wondering whether or not you’re consuming gmo/high levels of pesticide infused products (and then realising that as an unpaid intern you unfortunately have no choice but to buy whatever is affordable and hope that that third limb won’t start growing any time soon..)

One important lesson I have learned so far? 

Last week I attended a negotiations workshop and the one lesson I learned was to always, always negotiate your first salary. Even if it’s only an intern salary.

amy_internship

Roy Winkelhuijzen

Are you currently doing a thesis or an internship?

I’m doing an internship at the UN-REDD Programme Secretariat.

Where on the globe are you?

Geneva, Switzerland.

What is the topic you are working on?

The role of the UN-REDD Programme is to support nationally led REDD+ processes to halt deforestation and forest degradation in developing countries. My research focuses on prioritisation of UN-REDD partner countries, based on many criteria and indicators. Inter alia, I look at government commitments, deforestation and emission trends, source and amount of funding, socio-economic situation and involvement of the private sector in deforestation processes.

What do you like about your internship?

Being in Geneva, the second UN headquarters in the world! There are many UN (and other) organisations located in the city, with many important persons and interesting events. My supervisor gives me a lot of freedom to attend all the events that I find interesting, which allows me to really make the most out of my time here. One of the highlights was to shake Ban Ki-moon’s hand during his final visit to Switzerland as Secretary General.

What don’t you like?

I really like my internship, but if I had to choose one thing it would be waiting for email responses. People that I meet here are very busy, so sometimes my email slips their attention and I get a very late response. It also happens that people postpone a meeting that we planned, because something else came up. However, this never happens on purpose and I find everyone at the UN to be always very nice and approachable!

Do you have a funny, weird or interesting story to share?

Not directly related to my internship, but I was selected as one of the ten youth facilitators at the Global Landscapes Forum in Marrakesh, a side event of COP22. I will be facilitating one of the session at the Forum, and possibly also help organising UN-REDD side events.

roy

 

Rani Temmink

Are you currently doing a thesis or an internship?

I am doing an (paid) internship at Wetlands International

Where on the globe are you?

Not far from home, Ede, The Netherlands

What is the topic you are working on?

Wetlands International is an organization with a goal “that wetlands are wisely used and restored for the role they play in improving human well-being and local livelihoods – conserving biodiversity, sustaining the water cycle and reducing climate change and its impacts”. Since I have a social science background, I wanted to work in an organization that has clear people-nature dynamics in their work to get a broader scope on the interconnectedness of the concept. I mainly focus on monitoring & evaluation as I find it an important phase of the project cycle. Currently, I sit around the table and am involved in developing an impact evaluation framework i.e. what has the impact been of Wetlands International, and how do we measure this. The European Commission’s Directorate General for International Cooperation and Development (DG DEVCO) recently released the EU Results Report, which presents aggregate results of development programmes and projects in partner countries for the first time. See here.   This is exactly what we are trying to do for Wetlands International. The european commission was only able to publish such a report in 2016, imagine how difficult it is to do so.

What do you like about your internship?

There are many things I like about this internship. I love the variety of work that I am involved in. Although sometimes it is not the most exciting thing, my work is actually being used. The people constantly travel around the world. In the 2 months I have been here, people have been to countries in South America, Africa, and South East Asia for projects, conferences, and workshops. For example, I created a contact database of all the donors and partners which the office in Indonesia was very impressed and happy with. I am also involved in budgeting and getting numbers which were used in another conference in Senegal. I am also making the project list of 2016 which will be published in their annual report. I also did an extensive literature research on Wetlands as disaster risk reduction methods/water flow control etc. to provide advice for Shell. So as you can see, next to M&E I also give support where needed. I also like that the team is very young and international, which makes it nice to connect. Everyone is very social and events are organized outside the office. At the beginning of my internship, we were with 4 interns, now there’s me and someone else. It is nice to have other students around as well to socialize. We also sometimes have lunch lectures where staff members talk about their projects or invite guest speakers. These are very interesting and educational as well.  Since we are located in the forest, during lunch we often take walks in the forest where I learn a lot about mushrooms/fungus, birds, trees, butterflies etc. Lastly, the organization is very flexible. You can come in the office at whatever time you want, and leave whenever you want. I also often work from home. As long as you do your work, you are free to do whatever you want. This allows me to do a lot of other things next to the internship (e.g. sports).

What don’t you like?

Although I have a lot of different projects I can work on, sometimes I feel that I can use my time more productively. There are some days where there is just a big gap where I don’t really have anything to do, or that I have to wait for someone to give me data. But I don’t really have any complaints – I’m enjoying my time here.

Do you have a funny, weird or interesting story to share?

During my first few weeks, when I started to get to know everyone, I found out that more than half of the staff here studied at Wageningen University. Not only that, they did their bachelors at the same university of applied sciences (HBO) as me (or followed a few courses there). We even had the same teachers! That made me wonder, either my teachers are really old, or the staff here is younger than I thought.

I also don’t have my own desk, so I sit at a lot of desks from different people. I am in a bet to have sat at every desk in the office at least once by the of my internship.

14238317_10153858766231361_6226026733687983873_n

 

Marco van Burik

Are you currently doing a thesis or an internship?

I am currently doing my master thesis

Where on the globe are you?

I was in Ecuador and am back in wageningen for writing my thesis

What is the topic you’re working on?

The Water-Energy-Food Nexus

What do you like about your thesis/internship?

It’s a new area of research so limited knowledge is available in the form of literature, case studies or data. In addition, this concept is highly complex with many interconnections. This makes it challenging and therefore fun.

What don’t you like?

Time pressure to finish.

Do you have a funny, weird or interesting story to share?
Many. The most interesting and amazing experience I had in Ecuador was that of climbing Chimborazo. It is officially the highest point in the world, when taking into account the earth’s curvature. I never climbed this high and technical in my life, meaning I wasn’t sure on how to exactly prepare.
The story starts by passing the tombstones of all deceased who previously attempted to reach the top as well as the groups of tourists who can arrive for 25 dollar cents at 5000m (the last refuge) by bus. At night, 9pm, we set off for the climb. Ice picks, crampons, ropes, half a liter of water (saving weight) and numerous power bars comprised our equipment. We would pass the foot of a glacier, nearly lose one group member and have our breaths taken away by the nightly panorama.
The story ends with the cruellest 3 hours of my life in which we climbed about 500 height meters on all four limbs, stopping every 5 meters to catch some oxygen and hearing the guide call “just 2 hours remaining”. Although we contemplated about giving up on several occasions, we pressed on and were rewarded by the guides motivational speech. He said that he didn’t expect us to reach the top since we didn’t acclimatize at the needed height, which he failed to mention before the climb. Knowing that people have died trying to reach the top we though it better to be proud and forget the incredible risk we just overcame. Opting to avoid frostbite we couldn’t enjoy much of the sunrise at the top of the world and started the descend.
“Perseverance is everything!”

marco1

 

 

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