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Your job may be greener than you think

Not too long ago, the phrase “green jobs” meant those things that environmentalists do. You know, Zoologists, Park Managers, Ecologists, perhaps Climate Scientists. But things have changed.

Green job
Green jobs include traditional careers like Game Rangers and Marine Biologists and emerging ones like Environmental Economists and Environmental Lawyers.

In the 21st century, green jobs are so diverse that they are found in almost every sector. Think of a Plumber who improves water efficiency in homes, malls and office blocks; the Environmental Educator who teaches children about our impact on the planet and positive solutions such as reusing and recycling; the Electrician who finds solutions to improve energy efficiency; the Architect who develops environmentally-friendly building plans; and the Communication Specialist who creates and shares information to inform you about environmental issues. The list goes on!

All these careers have at least one thing in common, and that is, to work towards a society that uses its natural resources with the future in mind, so that both people and nature can benefit.

During July we profiled the green jobs of ordinary South Africans on our social media channels, where we learnt how their jobs play a role in building a #GreenerWorld. These ranged from Foresters and Fisheries Scientists to emerging green careers of Sustainability Specialists and Biofuel Engineers.

We also asked our supporters to share their own green career stories and shine a light on how they work to promote the well-being of people and nature. Read on to explore more...

Enriching minds for a greener future

One strong theme in the responses was the importance of life-long learning and creating environmental awareness.

“I educate children about conservation and the importance of living a sustainable life to preserve the Earth and its natural resources.”

“I’m a Conservation Biology Master’s student. I look forward to using my studies to turn my passion for working for a #GreenerWorld into a life-long career. I am also developing biodiversity youth advocacy among university students.”

Green careers
© Natasha Prince / WWF SA
We can inspire others to work towards a greener world through sharing our knowledge, our actions and passion for people and nature.
Understanding human behaviour to encourage change

Many environmental issues we face today are a result of our everyday actions. It’s also through our behaviour that we can turn things around.
“I am a Research Psychologist studying pro-environmental behaviour change. By gaining a better understanding of what drives anti-environmental behaviour and how we can change this, my career contributes to a greener world.”

“I am a Director for an advertising agency. I would love to contribute to something meaningful, like building awareness and looking out for the best interest of what the world needs – more selflessness, compassion and a shift in thinking to see a bigger picture of volunteership.”

Encouraging environmentally-friendly business

The way that companies operate and how they contribute to improving social and environmental issues, including a responsible approach to the natural resources on which they often form their businesses, is crucial for a greener future.

 “I have a Bachelor of Science degree in Environmental and Life Sciences. My job involves analysing companies’ pollutant emissions and assisting them with compliance to ensure a #GreenerWorld.

“I'm a junior Environmental Consultant and my job involves me participating in air quality reporting to ensure industries are within permitted limits.

“I have business degree, and I am currently studying Nature Conservation. The ideal future for me would be to work for WWF to ensure businesses are being the most sustainable and are conserving the world in every way possible.”

Influencing responsible food production

Another area of importance towards a greener world is sustainable food production. There are a variety of green jobs that work closely with the food industry, to encourage sustainable practices.
 “I work in agricultural research, specifically Entomology. While steps to be more eco-conscious are being taken, I believe there is a great deal more work to be done in this sector. I would like to contribute towards this and other environmentally important areas.”

“I am an AgriSciences graduate who is looking forward to joining the broad industry, to utilise and enhance my skills.”

“I manage a vegetable garden at school.”

© Unsplash
Sustainable farming involves meeting society’s food needs without compromising the environment.
Understanding alien vegetation for water security

Like soil-grown wholesome food, fresh water is a precious resource. However, our country is among some of the most water scarce areas in the world. We need to manage our water-producing landscapes well, removing thirsty alien plants and other threats.
 “I am in my final year doing a Master’s  in Environmental Sciences at Rhodes University. My thesis aims to find out how an invasive alien tree such as the Australian Black wattle responds to climate change situations, such as temperature, rainfall and soil nutrients. The results will help predict the future trajectory of this species. They will also aid in ecological restoration initiatives such as the Working for Water programme that oversees the management and control of invasive alien plants in South Africa.

“My job involves conserving endangered species, alien plant control and planting of indigenous plants.”

“I am an Aquatic Ecologist and part of a great team that assesses the health of rivers around South Africa, especially near mining and agricultural areas.”

Promoting the use of clean energy

One of the trending topics when it comes to mitigating climate change impacts is the use of renewable energy sources.
“I have worked in the sustainable energy sector for almost 10 years, but I feel that little has been done to effect real change. I am now interested in moving to more constructive engagement in sustainable energy which would necessitate better development and access to lower technology energy systems; better integration of renewable technologies through smart systems, as well as education for better energy use in society.”

“I am a Master's student in Geology with an environmental management background. I am passionate about renewable energy. I plan to use my geological knowledge on natural resources and associated skills to meet renewable energy demands by exploring sustainable ways to extract the required metals for clean energy technologies.”

Renewable energy
© Unsplash
Solar, wind and hydro energy are some of the examples of clean energy, with many still being explored.
Supporting rural communities and local economies

One of the most important aspects of environmental work is to put people first, especially those who depend on the environment and natural resources for food, livelihoods and income.
“I work on a project about transfrontier usage and protection of natural resources in the transfrontier conservation areas of southern Africa. My primary focus is tourism market development to ensure these spaces contribute positively to economies and local communities, ensuring their future and creating an incentive to increase protected areas.”

“My job is about supporting rural livelihoods and mining affected communities.”

With so many green career possibilities, we can all be part of a greener future to make a difference. The many green jobs we’ve heard about from our supporters, and many more, are paving the way towards a #GreenerWorld.


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Eitan Prince Photo
Eitan Prince, Digital Communications and Content Manager

Eitan Prince loves the outdoors, both urban and natural. He's also a passionate photographer who loves to capture street scenes.

Dimpho Lephaila Photo
Dimpho Lephaila, Communications Officer

Dimpho believes in the power of science communication, because it is through knowledge sharing that people can learn and change their behaviour.