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'Connecting Cities, Transforming Lives: Inside my Virtual Internship with UN Habitat's SDG Cities

By Ryhan S. Chand

Disclaimer: The views are those of the author's alone and do not represent the views of UNA-Canada.

Image 1: Ryhan S. Chand

My name is Ryhan S. Chand, and I am a Junior Professional Consultant (JPC) working remotely with the United Nations Human Settlements Programme (UN-Habitat), headquartered in Nairobi, Kenya. Specifically, my placement is within the Canada Hub of the Sustainable Development Goals (SDG) Cities Global Initiative. I was able to pursue this fantastic opportunity through a partnership between my university’s Faculty of Social Sciences (FSS) and the United Nations Association in Canada (UNAC) International Development and Diplomacy Internship Programme (IDDIP). Currently, I am in the final weeks of completing my Master of Arts (MA) in Economics at the University of Ottawa. Prior, I obtained my Bachelor of Science (BSc) in Economics from the University of the West Indies (UWI) in Trinidad and Tobago – a stone’s throw away from my home country, Guyana.

The Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) Cities Global Initiative aims to accelerate progress toward sustainable urban development in cities around the world, and as a member of the Canada Hub, my role has been to help promote SDG City certification among Canadian cities. Working with UN-Habitat has been a transformative experience and one that I am excited to share with students who may be interested in pursuing similar international internships. Not only has it allowed me to work on a project that aligns with my passion for sustainable development, but it has also allowed me to gain valuable experience in cross-cultural communication.

Moreover, as an Economics M.A. student, my placement has been highly relevant to my academic pursuits. The focus of my program is on understanding concepts and theories that relate to economic development, and the work that I have done has allowed me to see these relevant concepts in practice. The SDGs, particularly SDG 11, is a cornerstone of UN-Habitat's work, and their emphasis on creating sustainable and inclusive cities aligns with the principles of development that I am studying in my program. Through my internship, I have been able to see how these economic principles are being applied in real-world contexts and the challenges and opportunities that arise in the planning and implementation of SDG 11.

Throughout my time with UN-Habitat, I have worked closely with colleagues in Nairobi and across the globe to develop communication strategies and outreach materials that will help to promote the SDG Cities Global Initiative. This has included penning communication material and website content, creating infographics, and other visual materials, and organizing virtual events and webinars. One of the most rewarding aspects of this work has been seeing the impact that our efforts have had on Canadian cities. Through our outreach and engagement activities, we have been able to connect with local governments, community organizations, and other stakeholders to build support for sustainable urban development initiatives. We have also been able to raise awareness of the SDG Cities Global Initiative and the role that Canadian cities can play in advancing the SDGs.

As an intern, I have also had the opportunity to learn from and work alongside some incredibly talented and dedicated individuals at UN-Habitat. From my colleagues in Nairobi to fellow interns from around the world, I have been inspired by their passion for sustainable development and their commitment to making a positive impact in their communities. Overall, my experience as a JPC intern with UN-Habitat has been incredibly rewarding and I would highly recommend it to anyone interested in pursuing a career in sustainable international development. The skills and experience that I have gained through this internship have been an invaluable contribution to my professional growth, and I am grateful for the opportunity to have worked with such a talented and inspiring group of people


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