Global Commission on Adaptation

Washington, DC, US

WRI Overview

World Resources Institute (WRI) is an independent, nonprofit global research organization that turns big ideas into action at the nexus of environment, economic opportunity and human well-being. We are working to address six critical challenges that the world must overcome this decade in order to secure a sustainable future for people and the planet: climate change, energy, food, forests, water and sustainable cities.

Internships at WRI provide opportunities for motivated, young professionals to learn from our experts and participate in engaging work at the intersection of environment and development. WRI provides many internship opportunities throughout the year in all our programs and offices. We seek interns with diverse backgrounds and who are passionate about the environment to help us make a direct global impact.

WRI is committed to advancing gender and social equity for human well-being in our mission and applies this principle to our organizational and programmatic practices. 

Climate Resilience Practice Overview

Over the last decade, more countries, cities, and communities have sought to protect economic growth and reduce extreme poverty by better managing the impacts of climate change. With the signing of the Paris Agreement, 192 governments agreed to a global goal on adaptation. Current mitigation commitments have reduced the trajectory of emissions to give us a chance to keep global temperature increase to 2.7 degrees Celsius above pre-industrial levels. Risks associated with this temperature scenario could threaten our ability to reduce poverty, develop sustainably and achieve well-being and security for all. The decisions we make today could lead us toward a more climate resilient future, or they could undermine food, water and energy security for decades to come.

WRI’s Climate Resilience Practice (CRP, located in the Governance Center) seeks to incentivize and support actions that enhance resilience to the impacts of climate change – in a manner that promotes sustainability and gender and social equity. We will do this with a focus on helping countries integrate, or mainstream, adaptation into their development and sector planning (including budgeting) and implementation. We will also do this by helping countries understand whether, when and where transformative approaches to adaptation may be needed to better manage the significant systemic adaptations that will be needed in some circumstances.

Global Commission on Adaptation Overview

WRI through CRP co-manages the Global Commission on Adaptation. Composed of current and former heads of government and leaders from business, philanthropy and civil society, the Commission seeks to elevate the political visibility of adaptation with a strong focus on solutions. The Commission has developed a narrative that marks a qualitative shift in the way we think about and act on adaptation. It demonstrates that adapting to climate change improves human well-being and results in better, more sustainable economic development and security for all. It makes the case for the importance of taking climate risks into account and radically changing the way we do development. And most importantly of all, it shows the importance of ensuring that adaptation action and support reaches the most vulnerable.

Following its formal launch in October 2018, the Commission has engaged in outreach and coalition building within the wider development and adaptation communities. The delivery of the Flagship report at the UN Climate Summit in September 2019, and ongoing outreach and coalition building have catalyzed an ongoing “Year of Action” during which Commissioners and partners inspire governments, multilateral organizations, the private sector and civil society to enhance adaptation commitments, mobilize finance and accelerate action.

The Commission—through Commissioner commitments and partnerships with others—is helping to drive a set of Action Tracks essential to jump-starting the needed transitions. Each of these Action Tracks focuses on a specific high-risk sector, including for example, Cities, Food Security, Finance, Locally Led Action, and Nature-Based Solutions. The Commission will champion this package of initiatives and raise the level of ambition on adaptation in advance of COP26. Actions within each action track are expected to extend beyond the lifetime of the Commission and realize their goals in the next 5-10 years.

A focal point of this internship will be assisting on the Locally Led Action Track. The Locally Led Action Track seeks to significantly increase the volume of devolved and decentralized funding available to local governments, community-based organizations, and others working at the local level to identify, prioritize, implement, and monitor climate adaptation solutions. The Commission is working with partners such as Asian Development Bank, UNDP, the Adaptation Fund, and other international climate funders and multilateral organizations, as well as with governments, such as the Least Developed Countries (LDC) Group and civil society organizations such as Shack/Slum Dwellers International and BRAC. The Commission will seek to improve the quality of the funding available so that it is more coordinated, flexible, empowering, long-term, risk-tolerant, inclusive, transparent, and accountable both to communities and investors.

 Internship Summary

The Global Commission on Adaptation Intern will assist the Commission and CRP in its work to incentivize and support actions that enhance resilience to the impacts of climate change and will contribute to the Commission’s Year of Action, with a focus on communications and engagement, locally led action, and nature-based solutions in adaptation. This could include contributing to our communications campaigns by drafting case studies and other materials to highlight a city’s success or conducting research to identify case studies where similar challenges have been successfully overcome. The intern could also help to gather and share lessons learned from ours’ and our partners’ in-country experiences at a global stage, further developing good practices in building climate-resilient public and private investment policies, mainstreaming climate-related considerations into actions at every level, and exchanging such knowledge with governments, research organizations, and other partners globally. The intern may also assist with research on how to promote gender and social equity.

The intern will join a team of highly motivated and experienced individuals, including members of WRI’s senior leadership and global experts to support the development and production of outputs and engagement during the “Year of Action”. The intern will learn on the job, and will gain experience with stakeholder engagement, science communication, qualitative research, and project and event management.

Learning Outcomes

  • You will gain in-depth knowledge of international, national and subnational adaptation planning and adaptation principles, key challenges, and opportunities
  • Illustrative tasks include:
    • Conduct searches and review articles and publications regarding specific aspects or examples of climate resilience and adaptation, in particular those related to locally led action or nature-based solutions
    • Support engagement with and tracking of partners of the Global Commission on Adaptation, including Commissioners, country government partners, Action Track partners, and civil society and youth organizations
    • Compile abbreviated notes on publications highlighting main points of literature reviews
    • Assist in mapping the institutional landscape of specific countries’, cities’, and local communities’ adaptation efforts and relevant policy frameworks
    • Support development of monitoring and accountability frameworks for the Action Tracks, and prepare reports on progress of Action Track implementation
    • Provide event planning support to organize Global Commission events and speaking opportunities, and prepare outreach and engagement materials
    • Provide administrative support as needed
  • You will have the opportunity to maximize your learning opportunities across WRI by participating in seminars and presentations offered by a wide range of programs, centers, and initiatives.

Internship Qualifications

  • Pursuing or completed BA/BS or MA/MS in Public Policy, International Development, International Relations, Marketing, Business, Environmental Science, Economics, or a related field with an interest in climate change, resilience, climate adaptation, or sustainable development
  • Strong interest in CRP’s work on climate change adaptation policies, challenges, and opportunities
  • Flexible multi-tasker and able to problem solve in high-pressure situations
  • Creative and innovative thinker to assist in climate-related communications and outreach
  • Dedicated, hardworking, punctual, dependable, and a great teammate
  • Qualitative and quantitative research skills, with the ability to express complex concepts clearly and concisely; strong writing skills preferred
  • A self-motivated learner with a willingness to take initiative and take on new challenges as required, with the awareness and judgement to seek help when needed
  • Exposure to literature review, online search tools, reference managers and word processing and document processing tools

General Internship Requirements

  • Applicants must have personal health insurance coverage.
  • U.S. work authorization is required for this opportunity. WRI does not sponsor interns for visas.


This is a paid internship.


This is a Summer internship with flexible start and end dates based on the applicant’s availability and need for the project.

How to Apply

Applicants must apply through the WRI Careers portal to be considered.