UNDP Recognised as Leader in Fair Internships

UNDP People for 2030
4 min readSep 22, 2022

UNDP is honored to have been recognised as the second-best UN entity for internships by the Fair Internship Initiative in their latest Quality Index.

About the Fair Internship Initiative

The Fair Internship Initiative (FII) is a group of current and former United Nations interns and consultants advocating for higher quality and fairly remunerated internships within the United Nations System.

In 2019, the Fair Internship Initiative created a UN Internships Quality Index based on data collected in their survey of interns in the UN system. The objectives of this index were to raise awareness about the strengths and weaknesses of UN internship programmes, and to encourage and applaud positive reforms.

FII recently released its updated Quality Index based on their 2021 UN-wide intern survey responses. All scores in the Index range from 0 to 5, with scores in the interval (0–1) being considered ‘Very Poor’, and scores above 4 considered ‘Very Good’.

Notably, three organisations stood out as having climbed dramatically in the ranking since 2019. FII elaborates that it is no coincidence that these three — UNDP, WHO, and UN Women — all began providing stipends to their interns between their 2019 and 2021 surveys.

UNDP ranked second overall in the 2021 index; a meteoric rise from its position of 19th out of 22 in the 2019 ranking. In comparison to the 2019 ranking, where UNDP scored 1.97 points — the organisation achieved in 2021 a score of 4.01.

“UNDP’s spectacular rise in the UN Internships Quality Index highlights the organisation’s commitment to empowering young people and the efforts towards bringing more diversity to the internship programme. The organisation is not only the second-best UN organisation for internships at present, but, given its strong scores in all four areas of assessment, we believe that UNDP will continue to be the champion of intern rights.”

— Albert Barseghyan, FII Spokesperson

Between FII’s 2019 and 2021 surveys, UNDP dramatically improved its scores not just in Equal Opportunities but across all four assessment areas, clearly indicating that People for 2030’s reforms have had a positive impact on the overall quality of internships at UNDP.

Infographic: UNDP’s results for the four areas assessed in the UN Internships Quality Index

FII further elaborates in its full report that UNDP’s results emphasises that the introduction of stipends tends to go hand in hand with greater commitments to implement other measures that make internship programmes mutually valuable investments for the intern and the organisation alike.

About UNDP’s efforts to build a diverse, inclusive and equitable organisation

In January 2020, UNDP introduced stipends for all interns and reformed its internship program as part of its wider People for 2030 strategy to progressively transform its people management capabilities and systems.

“Internships are important because they provide vital work experience that helps young people at an early stage in their career, and also because — for many — they represent the first step in a career with UNDP. However, the practice of unpaid internships has the unwelcome effect of limiting access, as access is determined more by young people’s ability to fund themselves rather than their ability to contribute and to benefit from this opportunity.”

David Bearfield, Director, UNDP Office of Human Resources

For UNDP, it has been vital to broaden access and engage talented young people, and since 2020, the nationalities of 87% of UNDP interns represent countries in the Global South. That is, the payment of stipends has offered better opportunities to more candidates from more diverse backgrounds.

“Throughout the early part of my internship I was freelancing to pay my bills. After my day at UNDP I would go home and have to keep working. Then, in January 2020, I received great news. UNDP had put in place a new policy that gives every intern a stipend. With this new source of income, I was able to put my freelance work on hold and concentrate 100 percent on my duties with UNDP”

Sophie Beradze, Former Intern, UNDP Georgia

With UNDP’s mission underpinned by the universal principle of ‘leaving no one behind’, the Organisation is firmly committed to promoting diversity. This commitment is reflected on the one hand, by ensuring that our workforce is representative, in its broadest sense, of the societies and people we serve and, on the other, that in all aspects of our operations we foster inclusion as a way of ensuring all personnel are empowered to contribute to UNDP’s work.