Internship experience at the United Nations Office for REDD+ Coordination in Indonesia (UNORCID)
From August 2014 until February 2015 Rik Martens completed a six month internship at the United Nations Office for REDD+ Coordination in Indonesia (UNORCID) as part of my MSc Forest and Nature Conservation at Wageningen University & Research. This has been a great period which, which significantly enhanced his working experience and provided inspiration for his MSc thesis subject.
After completing courses for my masters, I was looking forward to work on practical topics that were of added value for an organisation. Working at the national level was a deliberate choice, as it provides more in-depth knowledge on a country, than the more general global issues do. At the same time, the national level brings the necessary knowledge to put subnational efforts into perspective, and make it possible to compare Indonesia’s efforts with other nations.
It is a unique UN entity in the world since it builds on the joint expertise of three already existing entities, namely the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP), United Nations Development Programme, and Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO). ). It is the focal point for the REDD+ activities of the UN system in Indonesia. Its main role is to support the National REDD+ Agency of the Republic of Indonesia (BP REDD+), which is the government agency mandated with the implementation of REDD+ via coordination and information provision. BP REDD+ has recently been merged with the newly formed Ministry of Environment and Forestry. The headquarters of UNORCID is located in Jakarta, while it has two Pilot Province Offices in the capital cities of the provinces of Central Kalimantan and Jambi. I was stationed at the Jakarta office.
My activities can basically be divided in three categories. First, most of my time was dedicated to the Forest Ecosystem Valuation Study (FEVS). UNORCID undertook the FEVS with funding of UNEP and aimed to highlight the significance of the contributions provided by Indonesia’s forests and its services. Many of the aspects of the value of forests is not included in decision-making, but still essential because of their huge socio-economic value. It seeks to provide quantitative evidence of the values of forests, thereby stimulating investments in forest ecosystems and their sustainable management. My contributions were mostly related to the data collection underpinning the FEVS, but I also contributed to the analysis and writing sections of the report. Large quantities of reliable data were required for the modelling of the different scenarios introduced in the study. These concerned national data for calculating the benefits of the forestry sector for the forest cover, production of timber and non-timber forest products (NTFP’s), the export of timber and NTFP’s income from taxes, employment and CO2 emissions. This information was included in a model to assess the value of forests in a Business as Usual scenario (BAU) and a Green Economy (GE) scenario to Indonesia’s economy.
Secondly, I set up my own study to assess the potential for cooperation between REDD+, FSC and TLAS, which I deepened in my MSc thesis. Thirdly, I supported UNORCID in organising events, writing newsletters and restructuring the contact list of the office. There is a big intern team in the office, commonly consisting of about six interns. This reduced the workload of the supporting activities, even though I also enjoyed working on organising events next to collecting data and reading reports.
The United Nations is a great platform to get insight in the activities of a country, as they have good contacts with government agencies as well as other organisations. It is well connected with all organisations involving REDD+ implementation. This enhanced my insight how to work together with numerous stakeholders involved in complex environmental issues. Moreover, I learned much more regarding REDD+ implementation in the Indonesian context and its value for a transition towards a green economy.
All in all, my experience at UNORCID has been extremely invigorating. The small and highly dynamic professional environment of UNORCID allowed me to be involved in a variety of environmental issues in Indonesia, and make a meaningful contribution to the UNORCID team. I would therefore definitely recommend students to apply for an internship at UNORCID, as it can greatly contribute to your professional and personal experiences.