PhD Geography Student, worked with the Global Solutions Division of UN Habitat on a climate change project entitled “Cities and Climate Change” .

UN Habitat felt like the perfect organization, as it brings together both the social sciences and the built environment. The aim of this fellowship, was to gain experience in high level policy. This is as the majority of my experience is at a grassroots level. The fellowship opened up a new world of high-level work, and donor processes. I also experienced the general functioning of a large a bureaucracy.

For the fellowship placement I worked for the climate change team at UN Habitat. The climate change team works on urban related climate issues. These range from broader policy work, to programmatic work in settlements at risk of climate events. My role involved substantive work and also work related to internal learning, speech preparation and administrative tasks. The key event of this fellowship was COP26 where I was one of a delegation of five. This was an intense period, yet also allowed me to take on an enormous amount of responsibility.

The fellowship helped me to understand how large bureaucracies work, and how money gets channelled from high level donors to the local level. In terms of future career, it helped me realize the value of academia as an independent and unbiased entity. It has also illustrated how I can, as academic researcher, tailor my research outputs. This will benefit local institutions so that my work has the potential to have impact in policy spaces.

I think the scheme is an incredible opportunity. This experience has changed the way I think about my research, having now been inside an institution similar. These insights are rare to have as someone within the academic machine, and that is what makes this scheme amazing. You bring in practical understanding to theoretical work which is what ultimately results in impact.

The UN allowed me to experience a career I always hoped would be in my future after the PhD. The fellowship opened up a door that I otherwise would not have been able to access. 

With special thanks to the UN Habitat Division.

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