A day in the life of an intern at Rikolto

A day in the life of an intern at Rikolto

in News
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Throughout the year, we can count on enthusiastic interns: sometimes, they surprise us with their social media magic, sometimes their study topic brings us new insights. Eva Van De Putte joined our Food Smart Cities team, and wraps up her internship with this blogpost, in which she unpacks the definition of food governance, inclusive markets and interconnectivity.

When I first entered the Rikolto office in Leuven, I had three concepts in mind: enabling environment, inclusive market and sustainability. I had seen these concepts in nearly every article on Rikolto’s website, but I did not quite know what they meant, or in what way they contributed to healthy and affordable food.

My first day started with an introduction on Rikolto’s numerous projects and initiatives. It was a lot of information to take in at once, ranging from Superlijst, SchoolFood4Change and GoodFood@School, to Rikolto Limited and the Communications team. Thankfully, the friendly faces of my new colleagues were comforting. I knew I would fit in here. And if I had any questions? I was confident I could always ask them. Was this the definition of an enabling environment? Possibly…

During my internship, I was stationed at Rikolto International in the Belgian office. I only ever saw my international colleagues online, often with a time difference.

I worked on food governance in small and medium-sized cities. And no, that is not just a mouthful to say. It really is a big concept.

It is an umbrella term for mechanisms and processes in urban and suburban regions that are broadly linked to agriculture, food, ecosystems and health. Through food governance, stakeholders can communicate their needs, settle their disputes and coordinate with governments. It’s the rules, institutions and practices that set boundaries and determine the behaviour of individuals, social organisations and actors in the sector (FAO).

Looking at the future, that is essential. By 2050, it is expected that 80% of all food will be consumed in cities. That is remarkable, especially since 40% of all agriculture is located a mere 20 km from cities. Yet, the relationship between urban and rural areas is nowhere near mutually beneficial. In my opinion, the best example is Solo. The city in Indonesia has the largest number of food waste globally, while a large part of its population lives in hunger. That might seem contradictory, but it is what happens when different actors in the food system are not collaborating. That is where Rikolto comes in, bringing together stakeholders using multi stakeholder platforms. I spoke with Hilda from Arusha, Nonie from Solo, Luisa from Portoviejo, and Lisa, Shukuru and Lilian from Mbeya. I asked them about their experiences with multi stakeholder platforms in smaller cities. Their view is an important one, as they do not have the same means as the bigger cities. After this small digital journey around the world, I was sure. I had found the definition of an inclusive market.

I noticed how it was not easy to bring together so many stakeholders. Little by little, I began to see how everyone brings their own approach to the table. Each approach obviously has its own uniqueness and is adjusted to its own environment. But there is still a lot we can learn from each other. One of Rikolto’s values is interconnectivity. I had learned that long before entering the big green door to the Rikolto office. However, it only became clear to me when I joined a digital network launch. Anyone with a food platform could attend this food governance exchange. Soon, about 60 people around the world joined in. They shared their tips and tricks, difficulties and solutions without thinking twice. During the network launch, I got the feeling we were all united for the same cause: good food for all.

Even though my internship is now finished, I will always treasure this experience. I stepped outside through those big green doors with a different view on things. I am thankful that I could experience working in this motivated, innovative sector. I left the Rikolto office with lots of new concepts in mind. Thinking about those projects, those enthusiastic and motivated people that stand together for the same goal, I am sure: Rikolto is sustainable.

Is your project thesis concerning one of our focus topics and you would like to collaborate with us? Are you searching for an internship for your university programme? Would you like to put you fresh ideas and expertise at the service of Rikolto?

We are willing to look if one of our offices (regional or international) has the possibility to welcome you.

More information about internships at Rikolto