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Geneva Internship Program (Winter 2024)

International Institute for Sustainable Development (IISD)


Geneva, Switzerland


Not stated

Internship, Fixed Term, Unpaid


Until filled

Wednesday, November 1, 2023



Part Time, Full Time





Geneva Internship Program (Winter 2024)

Please note that this internship program is only open to students studying in Swiss Universities. 


About IISD


The International Institute for Sustainable Development (IISD) is an award-winning independent think tank working to accelerate solutions for a stable climate, sustainable resource management, and fair economies. Our work inspires better decisions and sparks meaningful action to help people and the planet thrive. We shine a light on what can be achieved when governments, businesses, non-profits, and communities come together. IISD’s staff of more than 120 people, plus over 150 associates and consultants, come from across the globe and from many disciplines. With offices in Winnipeg, Geneva, Ottawa, and Toronto, our work affects lives in nearly 100 countries.


The IISD Geneva Internship Program offers students studying in Switzerland the exciting opportunity to acquire direct practical experience with IISD’s office in Geneva.


IISD’s Geneva office has teams focused on the following main areas:


  • Economic Law and Policy (ELP): Our team of international lawyers, financial analysts, financial modellers, researchers, communications specialists, and policy analysts focuses on areas of international economic policy-making essential to sustainable development. These areas include investment, trade, taxation, infrastructure, public procurement, finance, agriculture, mining, and sustainability standards. Our work covers international processes ranging from negotiations at the World Trade Organization to those at the United Nations Commission on International Trade Law, as well as regional and multi-country frameworks like the African Continental Free Trade Area and the Energy Charter Treaty. Our team also provides capacity-building support, technical assistance, and other advisory services to governments. We are the host for the secretariat of the Intergovernmental Forum on Mining, Minerals, Metals and Sustainable Development and manage the Secretariat International Support Office for the China Council for International Cooperation on Environment and Development.  More info.

  • Energy: Our team of economists, engineers, policy analysts, communications specialists, and advocates provide practical guidance in two key areas. Our Global Subsidies Initiative(GSI) works to help shift public and private financial flows away from fossil fuels and into clean energy. Our sustainable energy supply and just transition teams work to help countries reduce and phase out fossil fuels in socially responsible ways that are consistent with a 1.5° limit in average global temperature increase. We do this through international processes—including the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change, the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) and the G20—as well as long-standing programs of in-depth national work in Canada, India, Indonesia, and South Africa. More info.

  • Resilience: Our team of climate experts works with governments, civil society, and communities to help them manage climate-related risks, address vulnerabilities, build adaptive capacity, and craft, implement, monitor, evaluate, and learn from their National Adaptation Plans(NAPs). They also conduct research on the nexus between nature and security, along with related work on issues at the nexus of environment, conflict, and peacebuilding. IISD is home to the newly launched Nature for Climate Adaptation Initiative, focused on gender-responsive and socially inclusive nature-based climate solutions, and also serves as the secretariat for the National Adaptation Plan Global Network, which aims to enhance national adaptation planning and action in developing countries through the development of knowledge products, the facilitation of peer learning and exchange, the provision of technical assistance, and the coordination between donors and country representatives to help ensure that bilateral programs align with a given country’s NAP priorities. More info.

  • Communications: All of IISD’s teams with significant Geneva-based work—Economic Law and Policy, Energy, Resilience, and Communications—are engaged in ongoing communications and engagement activities targeted at policy-makers, international organizations, policy research communities, media, and the general public. Core communications activities include the development of outreach products (articles, newsletters, press releases, op-eds, infographics, and videos), the management of social media platforms, media relations and monitoring, and the development and implementation of communications plans and strategies. Depending on project needs, they may also include event management, webinars, data visualization, and the exploration of innovative communications tools.

  • Project Management l Monitoring & Evaluation: The project managers at IISD are responsible for overseeing the smooth delivery of projects by managing the logistics, operations, budgets, timelines, and scope of grant agreements; reporting deliverables to donors; and supporting partner outreach tracking. They maintain regular contact with the accounting and contracting teams to monitor project spending and procurement and with IISD experts and contractors to assist in keeping work on track and on time. Our monitoring and evaluation team oversees the monitoring of project activities, evaluating these activities relative to their intended impacts, and reporting to funders.

  • Tracking Progress on the SDGs: The IISD Tracking Progress Program runs a range of initiatives dedicated to supporting the achievement of the SDGs globally. One such project is the Geneva 2030 Ecosystem, co-convened in partnership with the SDG Labat UN Geneva. The project engages a range of stakeholders from UN entities, non-governmental organizations, academia, governments, and the private sector in knowledge exchange, collaboration, and innovation to accelerate the implementation of the SDGs. The Tracking Progress team is also home to IISD’s Earth Negotiations Bulletin team, which reports on international environmental negotiations, and to the SDG Knowledge Hub, which features policy briefs, news reporting, and guest articles on subjects related to the achievement of the SDGs.


Timelines and Duration


  • IISD is seeking interns for Winter 2024 (January to April). 

  • The deadline to apply is November 1, 2023.*

  • Internships are for a minimum of 3 months and a maximum of 4 months (or more upon university approval) for 15 hours a week during the term time and a maximum of 40 hours a week during university vacation.

  • If the internship is an official part of your course credit, working hours can be full-time, contingent upon a joint agreement with the university.


* Selected candidates will not be contacted for interview until after the deadline date.



Eligibility Requirements


To be considered for an internship, applicants must meet the following requirements:

  • Be enrolled in a master’s level (MA, MSc, LLM, etc.) or Ph.D. degree program with a university based in Switzerland during the dates of the prospective internship.

  • Be fluent in English, both spoken and written.

  • Have excellent academic performance as demonstrated by recent university or institutional records.

  • Have a valid Swiss residence permit (student B permit, regular B permit, C permit) or hold Swiss citizenship.


Additional consideration will be given to any past professional experience. It will be considered an advantage if applicants can demonstrate an academic or professional experience that is relevant to the focus area of the IISD team to which they are applying; professional competence in any languages in addition to English, especially French or Spanish; and a written statement of support from academic supervisors or professional referees.


All applications must include a cover letter and a CV both in English.Your cover letter should specify one IISD Geneva program with which you would like to seek an internship and why.



For more details on the IISD Internship Program, please refer to the Q&A section below.


IISD has implemented a COVID-19 Vaccination Policy that requires employees who are required or choose to be at an office or participate in in-person team events or in-person meetings/events to be fully vaccinated. Anyone unable to be fully vaccinated, either because of a sincerely held religious belief or a medical condition or a disability that prevents them from being fully vaccinated, can request a reasonable accommodation.


IISD is committed to fostering a more equitable and sustainable world and welcomes candidates who uphold our values of diversity, equity, and inclusion. In addition, to correct the conditions of social injustice and disadvantage in employment around the world, we encourage candidates from historically marginalized groups, including women, Indigenous Peoples, people with disabilities, people from different racial and ethnic backgrounds, and those who identify themselves as 2SLGBTQIA+ to apply for this position. Preference will be given to the equity-deserving groups during the hiring process. We offer reasonable accommodations in our recruitment process and seek applicants’ advice on how best to accommodate their needs. Please self-identify and answer our employment equity questions on our applicant tracking system when you apply.


IISD does not discriminate on the basis of age, gender, caste, ethnicity, religion, colour, disability, marital status, pregnancy, gender expression or identity, sexual orientation, or any other legally protected status.


Internships Q&A


How does the hiring process work? Selected candidates will be contacted after the deadline with an invitation to a virtual interview. We take great care in reviewing candidates, so the process can take a few weeks following the intake deadline. The good news is that, once we extend an offer, you can be sure it’s a solid, well-considered one. We receive many applications for internships, and our availability to host interns will depend upon the needs and capacity of different work programs at any given time. If we wish to proceed with an application, we will contact the candidate to confirm their interest and the next steps.


Can I still send my application when the deadline is over? Only applications sent prior to the deadline will be considered. Once that deadline is passed, you will be able to apply for the following intake once the new advert appears online.


Will I receive feedback on my application if I am not selected?Due to the high number of applications received, it is difficult to provide individual feedback to all candidates. All applicants will be informed whether their application is successful or unsuccessful, but we are not able to provide detailed individual feedback on unsuccessful applications.


When do I start at IISD if I am selected?Depending on your application, this will be the winter, fall, or spring/summer semester.


What is the purpose of this internship?The purpose of this internship is to facilitate learning opportunities outside the classroom and to invest in the next generation of leaders in sustainable development policy research and policy-making. These experiences provide the opportunity to apply the substantive knowledge gained through in-class learnings to real-world insights and exposure to actual working life, to develop new skills and strengthen existing ones, and the chance to build valuable professional networks.


Are the internships paid?IISD cannot provide funding for interns under this program. IISD will provide an allowance for successful candidates equal to the value of a monthly travel pass for public transport in Geneva and a per diem to cover lunchtime meal expenses.


Is there any financial support for accommodation?IISD cannot provide financial or organizational support for accommodation or housing searches. We can provide information on common websites that advertise accommodation.


What am I expected to do during this internship?You are expected to be present at IISD’s Geneva office during the agreed hours of your internship. If Covid-19 restrictions are enforced by the Swiss authorities, then a remote working situation could be imposed. Activities will vary according to the needs of the project you will be working on but may include research and editing, event management, and communications. You will be assigned to an IISD program staff member who will be responsible for agreeing to the objectives of the internship, managing your work, responding to queries, and providing feedback.


How flexible are the working hours of the internship?Internships should be arranged so that interns will be present and working in IISD’s Geneva office following a regular schedule of hours. IISD can be fully flexible to agree to a schedule that best fits your other academic commitments.


Will IISD be organizing internships at a later time?

IISD Geneva internships occur three times a year as follows:

  • Fall Intake (September to December), with an application deadline of June 1. 

  • Winter Intake (January to April), with an application deadline of November 1.

  • Spring/Summer Intake (May to August), with an application deadline of March 1.

Please apply when you see the adverts appear. Selected candidates will not be contacted for an interview until a few weeks after the deadline dates.


I am not studying at a Swiss university. Does IISD’s Geneva office have other internship opportunities I can explore? IISD’s Geneva office does consider applications from people who are not enrolled in a Swiss university, but this takes place outside of this internship program. Such applications can be made on an ad hoc basis—that is, there is no fixed intake process or application system. Interested candidates should write directly to staff working in the programs that interest them. Candidates from outside of Switzerland will be required to submit an application to the Swiss government for a residency permit for their internship. This process typically takes 2 to 3 months and should be taken into account for applicants’ timelines. Swiss law requires candidates from outside Switzerland to show they can support themselves with resources of CHF 2,660 per month during their internship. In certain circumstances, IISD may be able to make a contribution to this sum, but candidates are expected to be able to cover the majority of these funds from independent sources.


Does IISD’s internship position link to further professional opportunities with IISD? The internship program is not related to employment. However, excellent candidates may be invited to continue to work on a consultancy basis after the position concludes.

Employment opportunities are advertised on the IISD career page and hiring decisions are made on a competitive basis.


Experiences of the Previous Interns: “My experience in IISD has provided me with several and diverse abilities which have been extremely useful, not only to my Master's studies but also to my professional development. Working with a highly dedicated and motivated team, my tasks led me to participate in a variety of projects—all equally interesting and dynamic. My work in the Energy team, more specifically in the Global Subsidies Initiative, provided me valuable expertise in understanding how fossil fuel subsidies negatively interfere in the economy, environment, and society, and the importance of reform in order to achieve climate goals. Supervised by an attentive and resourceful mentor, I was able to greatly develop my research and writing skills, organizational and communications abilities as well as creative thinking. My role in IISD has added to my professionalism in a valuable way and has made me a diverse skilled professional.” — Master’s student from the Geneva-Tsinghua Initiative, University of Geneva, Switzerland


"My internship experience at IISD provided an insightful opportunity to explore and synergize my interests in environmental sustainability, international trade, and special and differential treatment for developing countries. As part of the Energy team, I conducted research on ongoing WTO negotiations on fisheries subsidies. I was tasked with contributing to a subsidies notification database, analyzing data on technical assistance and capacity-building, assisting with the organization and reporting of webinars, and supporting publications on the circular economy transition and trade in services. In this process, I sharpened my technical knowledge of WTO legal disciplines and enhanced my analytical and writing competencies. Despite the virtual realities of working under COVID-19 circumstances, I was warmly welcomed, trusted, and valued by a team of diverse and tight-knit colleagues, who always endeavoured to facilitate a learning-oriented environment for my internship. My time at IISD reaffirmed my intellectual interests in global economic and environmental governance, and this experience continues to have a lasting impact on my professional and academic development." — Masters student from the Graduate Institute, Geneva, Switzerland


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Posted Date:

Sep 3, 2023


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