By Matthew Andrews
Over the summer of 2023, I worked with the climate team at the Khazanah Research Institute (KRI) in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia under the direction of Yin Shao Loong. During my time at KRI, I worked on industrial policy research which focused on semiconductors, electric vehicles, and place-based policy solutions.
Through this internship, I learned to appreciate the power that the public sector has in actively shaping the economic growth of a country. When I arrived, I was interested in trying to figure out how to combat climate change. After leaving Kuala Lumpur, I am now focused on trying to unlock the capital problem that the world needs to prevent disastrous climate change.
The experiences I had made me curious about how and why some countries grow and succeed, and why others do not. It is not enough to say that without corruption there will be growth. Instead, careful considerations need to be made to a country’s current capabilities in order for it to develop in a sustainable and just way. That small addition of “just” is particularly relevant for the work the climate team does at KRI. While the global north pushes for decarbonization of global value chains, they forget that developing economics oftentimes must trade off development with sustainability, which goes against the “common but differentiated responsibilities” outlined in the Paris Agreement of 2015.
While my internship consisted of mostly desk research, I was fortunate enough to be able to attend discussions and conferences on economic development, green finance, and Malaysia’s current climate concerns with the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change. This culminated in a team presentation to the Ministry of Investment, Trade, and Industry where my team presented our suggestions for the New Industrial Master Plan of Malaysia. The Ministry took our suggestions seriously and in our last week, we learned that our suggestions had been added to the Industrial Master Plan!
During my time in Kuala Lumpur, I was fortunate to be able to spend weekends traveling with other KRI interns to different parts of Malaysia and Singapore. We travelled north to Penang, Ipoh, and the Cameron Highlands, tasting amazing food and tea along the way. We visited Sabah on the island of Borneo and were able to see orangutans, sun bears, and snorkel. The one thing I will never forget is the incredible food and flavors of Malaysia - my favorite being Char kway teow, Kuih, and Nasi Lemak!
This internship has encouraged me to further pursue my interest in sustainable development around the world through the Growth Lab and CID more broadly. I came to Malaysia to better understand the Malaysian economy and how Malaysia has grown into what it is today, and while I did accomplish this, I have also come to understand and appreciate my home country of South Africa much more. Through my studies and additional work experiences, I hope to learn how other countries are pursuing sustainable development so that I can come closer to understanding, appreciating, and critiquing my own country’s development.
Matthew Andrews is a junior at Harvard College studying Applied Mathematics with a focus in economics and a secondary in computer science. He is currently the Co-President of Woodbridge International Society, a teaching fellow for the college’s introduction to computer science, a Peer Advising Fellow and serves as the Communications lead within the CID Student Ambassadors.
This internship was made possible through the Center for International Development's Global Internship Program. Funding for undergraduates participating in this program came from the Harvard FAS Mignone Center for Career Services. The Global Internship Program helps students engage in international development experiences in developing countries, learn more about potential career paths, and explore how they can make a meaningful contribution in this field.