The Bartlett Development Planning Unit


Andrea Wyers

Andrea Wyers
Having grown up in small towns across Canada, I was excited to move to a big city for my undergraduate studies. I graduated from McGill University with a BA&Sc in Sustainability, Science and Society. Coupling an environmental focus with a minor concentration in economics, I thought I was going to work in the environmental division of some private company.

Instead, I found myself working as an assistant in a pardon application company. Aside from a small element of social justice, it had nothing to do with what I had studied. Eventually, I found an internship at a small permaculture company. I developed an interest in agricultural systems and travelled to Telchac Puerto, Mexico to learn more about climate-resistant crops and off-the-grid living. Wanting to pursue it further, I applied for an internship at the UN’s International Fund for Agricultural Development (IFAD) in Rome, Italy.

As the Land Tenure Intern in the Policy and Technical Advisory Division, I was exposed to IFAD’s global portfolio of rural development projects. My day-to-day tasks involved assessing the tenure activities in new projects and mapping ongoing land-related projects. I learned about the continuum of tenure security and the challenges of assessing rural-urban linkages.

My research into these topics directed me towards the DPU and several professors affiliated with the ESD programme. I submitted my application and continued to find short-term consultancy contracts. After working briefly as a Knowledge Management Consultant with UN Habitat and the Global Land Tool Network, I returned to IFAD as a Monitoring and Evaluation Consultant in the East and Southern Africa Division.

My year studying in the ESD programme was invaluable. In addition to providing a deeper theoretical understanding to my time working in development, it also brought together seemingly unrelated strands of knowledge and general interest. My background was directly relevant to what we were learning in the ESD programme, I also learned a lot from my fellow classmates, particularly from those who had come from different disciplinary backgrounds. We were warned on our first day of orientation that the year would go by quickly and we probably wouldn’t realise how much we learned until months after we submitted our dissertation. In my case, I think this is definitely true.

After completing the course, I started working as an Analyst for the Knowledge Transfer Network. I was hired to do research for the Smart Specialisation Hub, the remit of which is to communicate local innovation capabilities to stakeholders at all scales in business, government and higher education. In my position, I have contributed to policy and benchmarking reports on topics like circular economy, innovation networks, and renewable resource use across the UK.

I am very grateful for the year I spent studying in the ESD programme. The critical thinking and information prioritisation skills gained through this course have proven really useful in my job so far and will certainly play a role in my thinking in future endeavours.