What is sustainable development?
There’s an ancient Native American proverb that goes a little something like this: “We do not inherit the earth from our ancestors, but borrow it from our children.”
Sustainable development and regeneration careers, put very simply, involve bringing the essence of this proverb slap bang into the modern day. It’s all about making sure that industrial and commercial activity meets the needs of humans today, whilst preserving the environment for future generations.
Careers in this area come with a heck of a lot of responsibility, but don’t let that put you off. It’s a good thing! You’ll be doing your bit for the environment, as well as helping the rest of the world to do the same.
What does sustainable development mean?
Without sustainable development and regeneration initiatives and activities, future generations would not be able to enjoy the same level of clean air, healthy oceans and beautiful landscapes.
Organisations that are concerned with sustainable development and regeneration understand the need for commercial and industrial prosperity, but they also strive to make sure that future generations are not affected by the detrimental human activities which are taking place today.
Sustainable development and regeneration is a rather broad area of work, which incorporates a range of different career paths. If you pursue a career in this area, you could find yourself working for an environmental NGO (non-governmental organisation), an academic institution, an environmental consultancy firm, a government organisation, such as the Environment Agency, or a multi-national corporation with a keen interest in its corporate social responsibility strategy.
Furthermore, you can focus your efforts on a range of different tasks, such as:
- Conducting scientific or social research
- Campaigning to raise awareness of sustainability issues
- Lobbying the government to bring about change
- Engineering sustainable products and solutions
- Getting involved with more hands-on volunteer work, which is essential for actively initiating change.
Whatever area of work you choose to get your teeth into, you may get the opportunity to work abroad. Sustainable development is a truly international concern and therefore you may get the chance to travel from time to time as part of your role.
What do people working in sustainable development do?
Scientific and social research studies are essential for the success of sustainable development and regeneration enterprises. Environmental and social scientists conduct extensive research into specific issues which are affecting certain geographical areas.
The data which is collected, analysed and documented is vital for influencing environmental policies and campaigns. This research may be carried out on behalf of NGOs, government agencies and academic institutions. If this sounds like something you’re interested in, then be sure to check out the Environmental Law & Policy subsector.
Environmental charities and NGOs play a vital role in the creation and promotion of sustainable development policies. People who work on this side of things strive to build awareness of sustainability issues.
They also lobby governments and other organisations that can actively bring about change, promoting the need for action to be taken on issues, such as climate change, pollution and non-renewable energy resources.
Environmental engineers are essential for implementing sustainable development schemes. They are responsible for researching, developing, designing and producing sustainable technologies that aim to reduce the environmental impact of human activity. Have a little look at the Environmental Engineering subsector if this sounds good to you.
Sustainable development and regeneration is forever indebted to the hard work of volunteers that roll up their sleeves, get involved and take action to help clean, restore and regenerate areas that have suffered from the detrimental impact of human activity.
This kind of volunteer work has parallels with conservation work and aims to allow environmentally vulnerable areas to thrive and flourish for decades to come. So, if you’re the type that recycles religiously, uses energy efficient light bulbs and tries to source food locally, then good on you – this could be the perfect career path for you!