Student Activities

73-day internship on climate action with the United Nations in New York City

This article details an account of my summer internship with the Climate Action Summit Team of the United Nations Executive Office of the Secretary-General. I worked directly under the leadership of the Special Envoy of the 2019 Climate Action Summit. The mandate of the team was to manage and coordinate the 2019 Climate Action Summit held on 23 September 2019, including supporting the implementation of the UN Secretary-General’s call on all leaders to unveil concrete, realistic plans aimed at enhancing their nationally determined contributions (NDCs) by 2020, in line with reducing greenhouse gas emissions by 45% over the next decade, and to net zero emissions by 2050. However, to do this requires a lot of effort. More details about this UN Climate Action Team and the outcomes of the summit can be tracked here.

Reflections on the internship
First, I found my passion. The team was a high-impact one and was representative of all regions of the world. The working environment was excellent, harmonious, and energetic and filled with a wealth of experiences from every member of the team. It was a time when I also met a lot of young professionals and experienced experts in the field of climate finance, mitigation and adaptation, sports, health and the like. Besides, I had a first-hand experience of the UN’s high-level weeks in New York City. The period when all heads of State/Government of the 193 UN member states assemble for two weeks, to discuss the burning issues of our time and set the global agenda for the year ahead. Walking side-by-side with these global leaders in the hallways of the General Assembly (GA) hall was an incredible and humbling experience for me!

GCE student Aanu Busari (rightmost in the photo) did his internship with the UN

My responsibilities:

  • Alongside colleagues, I provided logistical and administrative support for the organization of the summit;
  • I participated in the high-level and strategic planning meetings and managed correspondence for events registration and invitations;
  • The energy transition track was my place of primary assignment, therefore I helped facilitate the invitation and registration including drafting of special letters for a huge number of people who attended all our events in the track;
  • I participated in virtual meetings with stakeholders overseas;
  • I helped to facilitate the pre-summit meetings between the Special Envoy and the delegates of the member states;
  • I supported the preparation of background and options papers, meetings, conferences and retreats, events, talks and visits for the summit tracks;
  • On the days of the summit, I helped special guests into the GA hall and alongside other colleagues, helped in the screenings of IDs and issuance of badges to our guests;
  • Post-summit era – I participated in evaluation meetings, tracking of commitments made by state and non-state actors during the events;
  • Lastly, I partly participated in the initial discussions about synthesizing the outcomes of the summit.

Lessons learned:

  • I was trained on the prerequisites to working in the UN environment. The 3 mandatory courses for interns to fully integrate and efficiently work within the UN system are the UN BSAFE; Ethics and Integrity at the United Nations; Prevention of Sexual Harassment and Abuse by United Nations Personnel – Working Harmoniously. UN BSAFE was about the overall safety of UN personnel everywhere in the world and of the safety of data and information;
  • As this high-impact team worked tirelessly, I was able to learn about how multilateralism works for achieving global goals such as the climate agenda. The amount of diplomacy that went into the negotiations and arrival at decisions was incredible;
  • It was an opportunity to improve on my communication and awareness about cultural diversity, teamwork, and asking questions for clarifications when tasks were assigned. Going back many times for clarification is much better than spending hours trying to fix an unclear task and ending up doing the wrong thing;
  • I received first-hand mentoring from colleagues about how to successfully pursue a professional career in international development;
  • During the many team meetings, I saw the importance of perspectives and context as the team mostly brainstormed and thought critically;
  • In closing, I also saw leadership and management sometimes demonstrated by top-down decision making.

My acknowledgment goes to everyone who has contributed in different ways to my trip and stay in New York City. My parents (Abu and Bola Busari), my host parents in Brooklyn (Timothy and Omowumi Ayinla), my great senior friend in Bayreuth (Herr Dr. Med. Johannes Hägel), my university study program (University of Bayreuth, Global Change Ecology Coordination Team), and all my colleagues at the United Nations HQ. All of you have provided unending support and created an atmosphere of possibilities around me.

Aanu Busari

Author: Aanu Busari

As a national of a developing country – Nigeria – I am disposed to developing professional competence for contributing towards a sustainable economic and social development of the most vulnerable people and places impacted by the menace of climate change. It takes cutting-edge leadership, and deliberately acting on the overwhelmingly available scientific solutions, policy-formulations and responsible politics to achieve even beyond our agreement within the Paris Agreement. I am hopeful of a future where people and the planet coexist sustainably. Currently, I am writing a master thesis on pollination service in Bavaria, Germany.

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12 Comment

  1. We are indeed very proud of you. Aanu this is just the beginning. Forge ahead & the good Lord will see you through. Amen.

  2. You have done well for your self, well-done, let’s continue to do this, someday, the world will see the result of our effort, let’s contribute to making our environment safe for dwelling. Proud of you

  3. I’m so pleased with this my brother. I must say you are doing well. More of God’s dealings. I miss you

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