For example, the Center for International Forestry Research (CIFOR) conducts research on the most pressing challenges of forest and landscape management around the world, aiming “to improve human well-being, protect the environment, and increase equity”. From research to capacity building to policy and practice, they have opportunities around the world.
Their research spans six thematic work areas:
- Forests and human well-being
- Sustainable landscapes and food
- Equal opportunities, gender, justice and tenure
- Climate change, energy and low-carbon development
- Value chains, finance and investment
- Forest management and restoration
- Creating, managing, curating and disseminating information
- Putting know-how in people’s hands
- Improving food security through climate smart agriculture and good agricultural practices
- Protecting livelihoods and biodiversity from invasive species and other threats
Transforming global food markets
Certification schemes are a growing tool to ensure that food supply chains are sustainable. Paired with ecolabels, they inform consumers before they buy, ensuring that consumer choices contribute to healthy ecosystems.
For example, the Marine Stewardship Council, recognised as a top graduate employer and top UK conservation employer, use their ecolabel and fishery certification program to recognise and reward sustainable fishing practices and influence consumer’s choices. Ultimately they aim to transform the seafood market into a sustainable one.
Integrating science and indigenous knowledge
Since shunning the vast majority of the world’s crop diversity in favour if a few mass-produced staples, we’re increasingly realising that the favourite crops that land on our plates make for non-resilient, often unproductive, and certainly unsustainable agricultural systems.
In line with the CBD’s catalyst for change tip ‘Promote local and indigenous biodiversity for food and nutrition’, opportunities exist for conservationists to integrate science and indigenous knowledge for sustainable solutions to food, water and other biodiversity-related problems.
Distinguished Professor Dr with indigenous plant experts of northwestern North America, studying traditional knowledge and resource management systems that can help inform modern sustainability.
“I look at indigenous knowledge as a system of knowledge. Every community has its own body of knowledge that is based on in their land, their territory and the species that they know well. Certain parts of the knowledge integrate very well with western scientific knowledge: what species occur and their habitats, the timing of reproductive cycles and growth, and understanding weather patterns. I’ve called that ‘practical knowledge for sustainable living’“, explains Dr Nancy Turner.
“You have to really enjoy working with people and be willing to listen and be patient. At the same time, you need to have a depth of knowledge about the species that you’re working with”, adds Nancy.
Combating plastic pollution
With roughly 8 million tons of plastic entering the ocean each year and 5.25 trillion pieces of plastic and counting present in the oceans, time is up to change consumer behaviour.
Awareness of ocean plastic pollution has swept across the globe thanks to powerful environmental campaigns, and the CBD recommends reducing plastic waste as one way to be a catalyst for change.
If campaigning isn’t for you, you might prefer working directly with companies to help them reduce their plastic waste like Fauna & Flora International does, or documenting plastic pollution and its impact on wildlife like Conservation Careers Blogger Stella Diamant onboard one of The Ocean Cleanup’s ‘Mega Expedition’ vessels.
Finding your path to a biodiversity career
There are countless academic pathways into careers that put biodiversity at the forefront of food, water and health, but we’ve chosen to profile three you may not have heard of yet.
The emerging field of One Health sits at the nexus of human, animal and environmental health, recognising that they are inseparably connected. The field brings together ecologists, microbiologists, epidemiologists, physicians and veterinarians who apply concepts from population dynamics to toxicology to find solutions to complex global health challenges.
Universities including Utrecht University in the Netherlands, Cambridge University, the University of London (LSHTM), the University of Edinburgh, the University of Helsinki in Finland, Auburn University – and many more – now offer master’s programmes in this growing field.
Agroecology studies ecological processes and applies them to agricultural production systems to inform management. In short it’s farming that works with local ecosystems and biodiversity, striving to enhance rather than degrade them and drawing on traditional knowledge alongside science.