Student Activities

Internship at the Federal Ministry for the Environment in times of the corona pandemic

Internships are an integral part of the GCE curriculum. Despite the corona pandemic, I did my internship at the Federal Ministry for the Environment which was a great experience that I am very grateful for:

Exciting Time

In the spring of 2020, I did my internship at the division of “International Cooperation on Biodiversity” of the “Federal Ministry for the Environment, Nature Conservation and Nuclear Safety” in Bonn for twelve weeks. Three reasons that made it a very exciting and special time were:
– Germany prepared itself to takeover the Presidency of the Council of the European Union (second half of 2020);
– The draft of the post-2020 global biodiversity framework has been developed – which originally was planned to be adopted during the CBD COP 15 (15th “Conference of the Parties” to the “Convention on Biological Diversity”) in Kunming, China, in October, 2020, within the German EU Presidency. However, the COP 15 has been postponed to 2021 due to the corona pandemic;
– The corona pandemic has started to spread in Germany.

Corona and the Internship

At the beginning of the internship, I was mainly involved in the preparations for the CBD COP 15. However, the CBD COP 15 process was shifted because of the corona pandemic. Concerning my internship alone, the corona pandemic had disadvantages as well as advantages:
The biggest disadvantage was that I could not enter the ministry building anymore after my first weeks. Instead, I had to work from home like my colleagues did but it turned out to work surprisingly well.
The biggest advantage was that I got insight how a federal ministry is working during a crisis. Due to the crisis, I could witness how the ministry handles a totally new, dynamic situation right from the start and I was closely involved. My tasks switched from the topic “CBD COP 15” to the new topic “nature destruction and zoonoses”.

The entrance building of the Federal Ministry for the Environment in Bonn


Some of my tasks were:
– Review of comments on the latest IPCC (“Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change”) Assessment Report (AR6) within the peer review process;
– Analysis of preparatory documents for the CBD COP 15 and defining and evaluating indicators;
– Contributing to the preparations of a Federal Press Conference held by the Environment Minister;
– Preparation of an interview with the Environment Minister;
– Involvement in the creation of an internal strategic discussion paper;
– Responding to citizen´s e-mails;
– Preparation of an internal expert talk and giving an internal presentation;
– Preparation of speaking notes for the Minister and Parliamentary State Secretary;
– Preparation of the participation of the Minister in an online-panel;
– Review of different working papers, amongst others, within the interdepartmental coordination.

Working as Policy Officer

I am very grateful that my unit and subdivision had confidence in me and handed tasks with high responsibilities over to me. Those sometimes challenging tasks allowed me to get deeper insights into policy and now I feel better prepared for a job position after the university.
I hold the employees of the Ministry in high esteem. They have to deal with a high workload and oftentimes must fulfil their demanding tasks, which have a high responsibility, in a little while. Those experiences were very valuable to me because I could feel the work as policy officer very closely.
In my opinion, the advantages of being a policy officer in the Ministry outweigh clearly. For example, one can participate in international conferences all over the world, one has to manage changing, challenging tasks and topics and is close to the highly topical political events. But most of all, the greatest advantage is that I had the feeling that one’s work can really help to improve the protection of nature. And that’s what is necessary to keep alive the underlying motivation for the daily work.
I appreciate very much that I was treated like a normal member of the team and am very happy that I can continue to support the Ministry together with my new very nice team of the GIZ (German Corporation for International Cooperation GmbH) as student assistant.

If you are interested in an internship at the Federal Ministry for the Environment, check the latest organisation plan and application requirements (the German language is a precondition).

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