Adam Keally (IPED ’21) interned with the International Rescue Committee as a Climate Change Research Intern. The International Rescue Committee (IRC) responds to the world’s worst humanitarian crises and helps people whose lives and livelihoods are shattered by conflict and disaster to survive, recover, and gain control of their future. The IRC was founded at the request of Albert Einstein in 1933 to assist Germans suffering under Hitler’s rule. It has now become one of the largest and most well-respected humanitarian organizations in the world, known for setting the gold standard in its field. As an intern, I had the incredible opportunity of seeing this first-hand.
The Climate Change Intern Research team was made up of 5 graduate level interns from a variety of disciplines tasked with investigating how, and to what degree, climate change and environmental degradation will impact IRC client populations and how IRC’s strategy should be influenced because of this. I was happily assigned to the programming areas that included Food Security and Livelihoods, a topic that I am passionate about. I was set up with an incredible mentor who helped me refine the research questions and exposed me to the inner workings of IRC in this area. He was patient and genuine in his support, allowing for long discussions around food security analysis and micro/macro drivers of food insecurity.
I had the opportunity to engage with country level teams, which provided valuable perspective in such a large organization. We also had weekly career panels with IRC staff to learn about different areas and job functions within IRC. The internship culminated with the intern team presenting our findings to IRC staff, including technical experts.
The research findings from my final report highlight the strong linkages between climate change, food insecurity, and livelihood changes. There is little doubt that climate change will lead to more food insecurity and threaten livelihood strategies in the near future. It will exacerbate existing drivers of both issues, while creating new ones with IRC client populations disproportionally impacted. The report concluded with specific recommendations for IRC to consider.