Environmental Resilience Institute Internship Grant Reflection: Sarah Bryan

Internship Location: The Nature Conservancy

Journal Entry #1:

This summer, I have been interning at The Nature Conservancy in their international headquarters located in Arlington, VA. I have been working with both the Global Carbon Science Team and the International Climate Policy Team. As a double major in Global Sustainability and Foreign Affairs with a Spanish minor, this has been the perfect position to further explore my interests. 

With the Global Carbon Science Team, I so far have been working on two major tasks. The first task has been to continuously update their global database of country-level datasets so that the most current data is available and easy to access. I also have been working on preliminary research for a paper studying the reasons why indigenous and community land tenure reduces rates of deforestation and improves natural forest management, focusing specifically on 10 Latin American countries. I have been working to establish a theory of change and find potential indicators for improved forest management. This has been exciting to be a part of because it involves aspects of environmental justice, one of my main areas of interest, and is centered on Latin America, the region where I have attempted to focus my studies. 

With the International Climate Policy Team, I have primarily acted as support for their work with the Forest Carbon Partnership Facility (FCPF). The FCPF Carbon Fund is a results-based-payments fund that developing countries can apply to join, and 5 new countries were just admitted to the Fund earlier this month. I read through the countries’ final proposals to pull out important summary information, to see if they adequately addressed comments that were made in response to the previous draft, and to note any further questions or areas of concern. I found this work to be very informative as to how the grant process works, how sustainable policy practices are developed and implemented, and how the science behind developing policy works. It was also very rewarding to see that many of the questions I raised about the program proposals were asked to the countries, and that all 5 countries were accepted into the Fund. 

In addition to my work on both of these teams, I also have been working with the larger Tackle Climate Change Team, which encompasses both the Global Carbon Science Team and the International Climate Policy Team, as well as others. In this capacity, I have been working on two tasks. First, I have been developing a spreadsheet of public and private funding opportunities to assist in their work on Natural Climate Solutions, forestry, and soil carbon science. Second, I have recently begun planning their team retreat that will take place this fall, which involves developing a meeting agenda and organizing logistical information such as location, transportation, and lodging. 

This internship has been a great learning experience so far. It has been very valuable to see what the day-to-day work is like, from seeing how scientific papers are developed over time to the extensive research and preparation that goes into international climate conferences. I feel as though I have a much better understanding of what a career in my desired field looks like, and I have been able to develop the skills necessary to succeed in it. I am excited to see what the next 5 weeks of this internship holds and what I can continue to learn and improve on.