Working at the World Bank has truly been a unique experience. Generally, the World Bank will only take on interns who have earned a bachelor's degree and are enrolled in a graduate program, so it was quite an opportunity to be involved as an undergrad. My position was to help researchers with the Bank's work on cookstoves in developing countries. About 2.5 billion people still rely on traditional biomass fuels for cooking and heating, using wood, charcoal, agricultural residues, and dung. Reliance on biomass for cooking and heating creates a significant health hazard, contributes to climate change, increases pressures on local natural resources, and perpetuates negative social situations for women and children. It is recently becoming a more well recognized problem, and organizations from many different fronts are trying to tackle it by promoting new and improved, clean cookstoves.
One such organization is the United Nations Foundation Global Alliance for Clean Cookstoves. As one of the many partners in this public-private initiative, the World Bank works closely with the Alliance. During my internship, I acted as a liaison between the Bank and the Alliance. I attended the Alliance's coordinator meetings in June in which they planned their "roadmap" strategy for the next several months. It was amazing to see so many knowledgeable people from so many different backgrounds come together to make possible the Alliance's mission of distributing 100 million clean cookstoves by 2020.
Aside from work with the Alliance, I did research into carbon financing for cookstoves through the Clean Development Mechanism (CDM), specifically with Program of Activities (PoA). I also prepared presentations and documents describing the Bank's upcoming plan for cookstove work in different regions across the globe. In addition, I helped in the early planning stages of a pre-COP 17 technical workshop and expo event that will be held South Africa. COP 17 is the 17th Conference of the Parties of the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change, bringing together representatives from all over the world in attempt to address the issue of climate change. Finally, I briefly delved into the topic of field-testing of cookstove efficacy. There are numerous laboratory studies published regarding cookstoves emissions and efficiencies, but there is a dearth of research on the effectiveness of implementing advanced cookstoves in the real world, outside of the lab.
Ultimately, the internship at the World Bank taught me quite a bit about cookstoves and the work that has been and needs to be done, meanwhile providing me with insight into how larger institutions like the Bank operate. I'm grateful to have had these experiences so early on in my academic career.