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Environmental Sustainability & Natural Resources

The Big Picture

    Human production and consumption rely on our environment's natural resources and ecosystems. Professionals in environmental sustainability work to ensure our activities contribute to – or at least don’t detract from – those ecosystems’ ability to endure. A rapidly growing world population places ever-greater demands on these resources and if left unchecked, leads to climate change. Sustainability leaders look for solutions to both economic and environmental demands to ensure that future generations have the natural resources they need to meet their needs.

    • More than 8.5 million hectares of tropical rainforest are destroyed every year.1
    • Consumers in wealthier nations waste approximately 222 million tons of food a year – almost the entire annual net food production of sub-Saharan Africa.2
    • Greenhouse gas emissions due to human activities worldwide increased by 26% from 1990 to 2005.3

    The Lowdown

    What can you expect if you decide to go into environmental sustainability?

    Innovative leaders wanted

    Environmental sustainability influences every job in every sector in one way or another. While people often focus on dedicated sustainability jobs, some of the biggest opportunities lie in more conventional roles, where “business as usual” is the norm. Are you ready to tackle sustainability problems where others haven’t? If so, dive in!

    It’s not all about communing with nature

    Love of the natural world is a powerful motivator, but many environmental sustainability jobs will keep you in the office. While some roles may allow you to spend time in the field, expect to spend more time in front of a computer than on the trail as you advance in your career.

    Resilience is a virtue

    Unsustainable practices are often entrenched in corporate or government systems, or rooted in the daily habits of millions. Whether you’re chipping away at a corporate system or advocating for radical policy change, you’ll need a mindset that can handle setbacks and keep going despite discouragement.


      Next Still interested? Meet the Players...
      Cradle to Cradle Production

      WIlliam McDonough discusses cradle to cradle design, in which inputs and outputs are accounted for so as not to deplete natural ecosystems.

      How Did They Do It?

      Learn how these folks are making a difference in their field, and what it took to build their career in environmental sustainability and natural resources:

      Dan Winterson
      Program Officer | Gordon and Betty Moore Foundation

      Andrew Essreg
      Sustainability Integration Specialist | U.S. Postal Service

      Not Your Thing?

      If environmental sustainability and natural resources don't ring your bell, take a look at these other fields instead:

      International Development
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