4 Nov 2022

MILE Alumni Profile: Joachim Monkelbaan

Today we meet Joachim Monkelbaan, MILE Alumni and currently Climate Trade Lead at the World Economic Forum (WEF) in Geneva

Hello Joachim! Thank you for being with us today. Tell us about your current position and what you are currently doing.

I’m at the ‘nexus’ of climate change, trade, and investment at the World Economic Forum.  This means I work with a range of stakeholders including companies, governments, academics, and civil society on finding ways to make trade and investment policies contribute to climate action. With climate change being such an urgent challenge, there are many ways for trade and investment to foster decarbonization, for example, through more trade in low-carbon technologies. I also teach regularly on sustainable development and globalization based on the book that I wrote on the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).

Which programme did you attend at the World Trade Institute and when did you graduate?

I attended MILE4 between 2003 and 2004 and graduated in 2004.

How was your career path after you graduated from the WTI?

I interned at the International Trade Centre (ITC), the EU, and some law firms. Then I joined the government before focusing on my true passion: trade and sustainable development, and in particular climate change. I worked on that topic with IUCN, ICTSD, UNEP, Climate-KIC, QUNO, as a consultant, and now at the WEF. Meanwhile, I also gained a PhD from the University of Geneva.

How do you think the WTI helped in your career?

The WTI really was the best preparation for working on anything related to trade and investment policy. I’m regularly reminded of how unique the WTI is. I remember that I was doubting between investing time and money in different programmes, including at more famous universities, but I now have no doubt that I made the right choice. I will not deny how challenging the programme is, but it was such a unique and worthwhile experience to learn from all the experts from around the world. I’m eternally grateful to the WTI because it has helped me make several dreams come true.

What would you say it’s your greatest achievement so far?

I usually like to look at things from a systemic perspective. So, in terms of career, it’s more a marathon that you run (or a long trek) than just one particular jump. I’m happy that I could explore quite a few different working environments, from government to law firms and UN to the private sector and now the WEF. I was lucky to study and work in different countries in Europe, China, Japan, and the US. In terms of personal life, it’s important to find the balance between family life, working on your fitness and personal development, hobbies, and work. Ideally the elements reinforce and enable each other.

Any advice for current students?

Appreciate the unique opportunity you get when you’re selected to study at the WTI and cherish every moment. Show interest in the faculty and your classmates and actively explore opportunities to make an impact during and after your life at the WTI. Show curiosity and sit down for a (virtual) coffee to hear more about practitioner’s work, it’s always appreciated!