I started working at SP in July. Having spent some time getting to know the organization and its dynamic team, I want to use this blog to introduce myself, explain how I got here and what I will be working on during my internship.

Growing up in Venezuela, I always was very aware of environmental issues - telling my parents not to use the car so much in a country where gasoline is cheaper than water(external link) and working at a community centre in the design and implementation of water conservation campaigns. However, it wasn’t until I enrolled in my graduate microeconomics and environmental economics and policy courses at the University of Ottawa that I became interested in how economic instruments can be used to advance environmental goals.

As a recent public policy graduate - a year ago I completed my MA in Public and International Affairs - I was looking for a job where I could apply my knowledge of policy design and analysis towards the development of innovative solutions to solve environmental problems. However, as I quickly found out, a valuable first job experience in this field can be challenging- particularly when many government departments and agencies, as well as other organizations are cutting jobs.

Although I already knew of SP and was already volunteering with them, through the Metcalf Foundation’s(external link)generous support I was able to obtain an opportunity to work with them for an eight month period. Under theSustainability Internships(external link) program, this Toronto-based private foundation funds opportunities for people like me - who have recently entered the sustainability field - to enhance their skills and broaden their professional network. The program’s ultimate goal is to help cultivate the next generation of sustainability leaders by facilitating the access to mentoring, training, network building and meaningful work experience.

Building on Sustainable Prosperity’s work on environmental markets(external link), the project I’m currently working on seeks to explore the use, barriers and potential of these markets by focusing on just Ontario. Environmental markets have been applied in Canada to a limited extent despite the growing interest to use this policy tool as a way to achieve a greener economy.

So far, my work at SP has been truly interdisciplinary; it has involved project planning, conducting background research, interacting with policy experts and academics, and also reaching out to program managers and operators. I even got the unique opportunity to learn first-hand how an environmental market works by spending a day at South Nation Conservation, a community-based watershed organization that administers the South Nation River Total Phosphorus Management(external link) program, which represents Ontario’s - and Canada’s – first experience with water quality trading.

In addition, I've also gotten to work closely with SP’s diverse and very talented team, and attend research presentations, keynote guest speakers’ sessions and conferences; something that has exposed me to a wide range of field experts. Later this Fall I’ll be heading to Toronto to meet my fellow interns and see the full range of challenging (but fun!) sustainability projects we are all working on.

I’m very grateful to the staff at the Metcalf Foundation and everyone at SP for giving me this opportunity to discover what sustainability work is really like – and to help launch me in my own career.

The final stage of my project will involve the release of a report where the conclusions of the research will be presented. Until then, stay tuned to SP’s Blog as I post on the project’s progress and most relevant findings