There’s a big future in saving the world


If we are going to make an impact on climate change, pollution and other planet environmental problems, we are going to need to think and be sustainable.

We hear lots about the negative stuff being done to our planet, but not enough about ways we can actually do something about it. In fact there is a huge array of people who are working hard to develop solutions to improve the state of our environment and sustainability- and it’s earning them money! Who doesn’t want to get paid to save the world?  

What is sustainability?

Sustainability and sustainable development tries to balance the world’s competing needs:

  • Mankind needs to move forward technologically and economically to feed and help the globally growing population, and
  • Mankind needs to protect the environments in which we and others live.

Sustainability has led to new subjects and degree components which attempt to bridge social science with civic engineering, and environmental science with the technology of the future. Sustainability looks to protect our natural environment, human and ecological health, while still driving innovation and not compromising our way of life.

Here in NZ, the obvious targets of any sustainability thinking and action include water pollution, land pollution, plastic and losing our native flora and fauna.

Here’s the point for you - jobs can be created in all these specialities and more! If you can think it, you can do it. Really. Sustainability needs new thinking. Yours.

Watch: learn what is happening with sustainability at the University of Canterbury

Where are the roles in sustainability?

NGOs (non-government organisations, such as Unicef, Greenpeace and WWF) are interested in ways to promote sustainability around the world. It is a core part of their thinking, so all their roles have an aspect of this. Visit and read their sites to check out their thinking.

As well as this, more and more New Zealand local and regional councils are making the environment a top priority. With more people than ever visiting and living in our beautiful country, councils are realising the importance of maintaining our pristine environment and being able to provide resources for everyone.

This needs people. If you’re serious about a job in sustainability, have a chat to your local council. This is where most of the jobs lie - and they’re waiting for you!

Your own pathway to maybe your own job

Keep in mind that this is a relatively new area of work and there are a lot of jobs that don’t actually exist yet. If you have a great idea to save water or reduce rubbish, share it! This is the kind of area that you can create a job for yourself and experiment.

While science is the most obvious path to a job in this area, sustainable jobs are needed in all fields. Think education (teaching children or workplaces about sustainability), urban planning, environmental consultancy (for companies on things like construction projects, agriculture, bringing down carbon emission levels and city development) or management.

While these are diverse areas, a degree in environmental science or similar is a fantastic place to start. Speak to your school’s career advisor to get some more information about relevant university or other study paths or use this site to check out sustainability programmes in fields as diverse as:

Let’s sum up on a sustainable career:

  • You can make your career future proof! Sustainability jobs and expertise are only going to become more in demand in more areas.
  • You can be part of it in a range of areas- not just science.
  • You can create your own job- don’t wait for one to become available, think one up.
  • Your problem solving skills = you are well equipped for a job in sustainability! 

What are you waiting for? Get thinking, get experimenting, and get out there. The world needs you!


By Pritha, Nov 2018