As a Fair Future Generator, I was an intern for 5 months in the communications department of Milieudefensie. I did this during a campaign where we asked 29 large polluting companies about their climate plan. In this blog I give you a look behind the scenes.
Maybe an internship at Milieudefensie is something for you?
Fair Future Generators is a project of Milieudefensie, where young people aged 18 to 27 can participate. The focus is on learning new skills and developing talent.
How a campaign changes everything
Environmental Defense won the lawsuit against Shell over a year ago. The oil giant becomes CO2emissions by 45% by 2030. This is a great victory! I saw the news in the news and immediately felt the urge to help.
Because the judge’s historic verdict paved the way for appealing to other big companies as well. In early January, Donald Pols, the director of Milieudefensie, and Neele Boelens, the chairman of the youth association JMA, sent a letter to 29 large Dutch companies.
In it, they urged the big polluters to come up with a good climate plan. A plan where companies show how they can reduce their CO2emissions, just as Shell should do. All companies responded to the letter. This campaign really set something in motion.
What it’s like to work at Milieudefensie
My internship started in February. To be honest, I knew very little about communication. What exactly does that mean? How does it work at Milieudefensie? Is that something for me? I wanted to find the answers to these questions. In the first week, I got to know my supervisor Laura and the other interns. We received a lot of information about the Environmental Defense and the big Climate Plans campaign. I realized that the letter Donald and Neele sent was not just any letter.
All Environmental Defense departments contributed to the campaign. They went out of their way to make sure the companies really did their best.
For example, the content staff in the Content & Lobby department entered into a dialogue with spokespersons from the various companies. They are really good at it because they have a lot of specialist knowledge.
The people of the movement building department work closely with Operation Climate Action Groups. These groups are spread across the country and consist of enthusiastic volunteers who organize actions at the 29 companies. These actions are very important to ensure that companies do not forget the climate plan. The activists also talk to employees.
From the office to the public
And then of course you have the communications department where I was an intern. It was up to us to involve as many people as possible in the campaign. This is done, for example, via the website, newsletters, press and social media. As an intern, I was given the task of writing a series of articles about the 29 major polluters. Questions like: why are these companies so polluting? What exactly are they doing? And why were they selected?
Before writing an article, I got information from the content department and did my own research. We went on a road trip along the companies with the group of interns. I took pictures myself. It was wildly fun.
When the article was finished, it was first checked by my supervisor. Then the content department checked my text to make sure all the information was correct. Then it went to the editors for one last check. All these checks ensured that it took a very long time before the article was online. I found this long process at times quite frustrating. Of course, it got better eventually. I understand that it is very important that Milieudefensie looks at the facts so precisely.
I learned a lot from writing about companies and about sustainability. But I also had a hard time reading that companies are causing a lot of pollution, taking little account of human rights and not being willing to change. It can make me angry and upset.
Everyone can participate
What will stay with me the most is the realization that we need to do it together. The climate crisis is a monster of a problem. It is invisible and very complicated. I can not solve this on my own. Environmental protection cannot solve this alone. We can only do this together: the individuals, the companies and the politicians.
That is why it is so important to involve everyone. Behind every article I wrote came a “call to action”. Something the reader can do. It does not matter what you do: sign a petition, eat vegan, vote consciously, demonstrate or make your home more sustainable. By acting I feel less powerless and because of my internship at Milieudefensie I feel less alone.
Become an intern too!
Are you looking for an internship? Do you want to work for climate justice? Would you like to develop further in the field of sustainability and learn more about working for a charity? Then sign up for an internship at Milieudefensie!
Photo above: portrait of the 5 communication interns 2022 with their internship supervisor.