3 Reasons For Youth To Begin Making An Impact With Sustainability Jobs

We recently talked to Katie Mabardy, Senior Development Officer at the World Wildlife Fund. WWF is the world’s largest wildlife conservation organization, with partners on a local and global scale across 100 different countries. Mabardy’s role is within development, with a focus on working with philanthropists by determining their interests and matching those with WWF’s funding properties. In this post, Mabardy talks about how she got her start with this impact-driven career, before providing an example of the work she’s been involved with. Ultimately, the goal here is to inspire a new generation to hold the torch of sustainability she once received from her predecessors. 

There’s always been the idea that for anyone to pursue a career in sustainability, there must’ve been some event in their life that signaled a turning point onto this path. For Mabardy, that isn’t altogether untrue, but she believes there’s two parts to this tale. 

On one end, she thinks anyone working in sustainability does so because it’s built into their psyche. She, for one, remembers a childhood characterized by altruism, whether that be simple acts of always making sure the lights at home were never left on, or the naturally protective nature she had towards animals. However, if she had to cite a ‘turning point’, it came during college when she started an internship at a local hospital’s foundation. Working alongside individuals giving their time, talent, and resources to address a real societal problem, she became inspired to do the same. That inspiration has led her to working for organizations such as Project Cure, one of the world’s largest organizations focused on the distribution of surplus medical products. Though she still volunteers with them from time to time, seven years ago her focus shifted to her work with WWF. 

In the following sections, Mabardy will share a few tidbits of her time working as a Senior Development Officer, as well as some reasons why she believes the youth should consider careers in sustainability. 

The World Wildlife Fund In Numbers

  • 82% of World Wildlife Fund spending is directed to worldwide conservation.

  • In FY22, the organization raised $433 million with commitments from both private and public donors, a 15% increase over FY21.

  • WWF has offices in over 100 different countries

1. Simply Put, Sustainability 

Jobs Are Worthwhile

Figuring out what to do with your life can be tricky. There are numerous factors to consider, with each choice painting a different picture of your future. While it’s easy enough in such a scenario to be swayed by mantras like, ‘follow your dreams,’ or, ‘do what feels right to you,’ in most cases those words are empty and trite. 

Instead, then, how about considering the career path of someone like Mabardy? With years spent working for NPOs like Project Cure and sustainability organizations like WWF, one aspect of her job that she holds dear above all else is the fact that it’s allowed her to work with individuals that she believes to be the best representation of humanity. Namely, philanthropists and volunteers. 

While who you work with never tends to be anyone’s top demand while job hunting, it’s easy to imagine how satisfying it must be to be a part of an industry whose ultimate purpose is the betterment of the world for all. Through her experience, Mabardy has come to the simple but poignant realization that people do care. Whether it’s in healthcare, environmental work, or foster care, there are individuals in society who want to solve such issues and are willing to give their time and talent to do so. If, then, you’re someone who’s unsure about the next steps to take, why not try taking a page out of Mabardy’s book and interning at an NPO or NGO? You might just find that a career making an impact with sustainability is just what you need. 

2. Investing In Sustainability Jobs

Though all the talk of altruism and helping others can leave you bubbly inside, there’s still a stigma one needs to overcome when deciding to pursue an impact-driven career. The fact is, sustainability jobs tend to be thought of as low-salaried or mere ‘volunteer work’. 

Of course, while it would be nice to assume that anyone part of an industry with the fundamental goal of helping others would be okay with making less money, than, say, a banker, the real issue here is not about the numbers but more to do with the perception. 

RELATED READING: Pioneering Sustainable Innovations, a Journey of Impact with a Young Entrepreneur

In 2022 the entry-level salary of a Sustainability Manager was $59,000. In comparison, the average entry-level salary in the U.S. for that same year was $48,189. While skepticism is understandable when comparing one single job to every job in the country, numbers like this point to the reality that our perception of sustainability jobs need to change before we can ever start having faith in the numbers. 

If this wasn’t enough to convince you, as someone in the field for over 15 years, Mabardy understands that it’s by all means possible to be successful in the sustainability industry. She’s witnessed companies increasingly investing in talent and putting resources into building their own sustainability teams, trends that point toward a promising future with sustainability jobs. 

3. Making An Impact With Real Sustainability Projects

One of WWF’s more grander projects is called the Project for Finance Permanence (PFP). 

The work was started out of a need to more effectively manage ‘protected’ land like national parks or wildlife refuges. The fact is, most of these vital places are only protected on paper, with issues like limited funding and a lack of government policies leaving them open to threats such as illegal logging, mining, and wildlife poaching. In an effort to combat these issues, PFP aims to combat such crises through collaborative efforts between governments and communities/civil societies. Goals to protect 30% of the planet by 2030 have been set, and so far, the work has seen success in Bhutan, Brazil, Canada, Colombia, Costa Rica, and Peru, with future application projected in countries like Belize, Namibia, and Mongolia, among others. 

Making An Impact in Colombia

Focusing now on WWF’s work in Colombia, let’s take a real look at the benefits of PFP. To get the project started, WWF partnered with the Nature Conservancy. With two of the world’s largest environmental organizations collaborating, moving the needle on conservation work became that much easier. Furthermore, by adopting a Wall Street model of financing applied for conservation, they were able to streamline the whole process. 

It looked something like this:

  1. Raise money from multilaterals, individuals, and, over time, the government. 

  2. Once the government starts to invest, WWF’s investments tail off.

  3. Eventually, after 10 years or so, the government is fully funding a protected area until it’s self-sustaining. 

As of 2022, the Colombian government further demonstrated their commitment to conservation and sustainability by signing a joint declaration for a new PFP initiative called Heritage Colombia. This secures $245 million of public and private finance to permanently protect 32 million hectares of iconic Colombian landscapes and seascapes. Besides this, Heritage Colombia will further Colombia’s plan of reaching its 30X30 target to protect 30% of its land and 30% of its seas by 2030.

This is one of the many reasons why Mabardy believes in WWF and is so excited by its projects. However, despite real progress, she still believes there’s a need for more people who are passionate and skilled to invest in this space. If you care deeply about these issues, take some time to see how you can contribute–whether with a corporation, NPO, or NGO. We’re at a crossroads now where our planet needs as many people working toward the common goal of bettering it for tomorrow. 

Subscribe to the Voice of Sustainability

Get monthly newsletter with impact stories from around the World and news from SUSTAINOVA.

Subscribe to the Voice of Sustainability

Get monthly newsletter with impact stories from around the World and news from SUSTAINOVA.

3 Reasons For Youth To Begin Making An Impact With Sustainability Jobs

We recently talked to Katie Mabardy, Senior Development Officer at the World Wildlife Fund. WWF is the world’s largest wildlife conservation organization, with partners on a local and global scale across 100 different countries. Mabardy’s role is within development, with a focus on working with philanthropists by determining their interests and matching those with WWF’s funding properties. In this post, Mabardy talks about how she got her start with this impact-driven career, before providing an example of the work she’s been involved with. Ultimately, the goal here is to inspire a new generation to hold the torch of sustainability she once received from her predecessors. 

There’s always been the idea that for anyone to pursue a career in sustainability, there must’ve been some event in their life that signaled a turning point onto this path. For Mabardy, that isn’t altogether untrue, but she believes there’s two parts to this tale. 

On one end, she thinks anyone working in sustainability does so because it’s built into their psyche. She, for one, remembers a childhood characterized by altruism, whether that be simple acts of always making sure the lights at home were never left on, or the naturally protective nature she had towards animals. However, if she had to cite a ‘turning point’, it came during college when she started an internship at a local hospital’s foundation. Working alongside individuals giving their time, talent, and resources to address a real societal problem, she became inspired to do the same. That inspiration has led her to working for organizations such as Project Cure, one of the world’s largest organizations focused on the distribution of surplus medical products. Though she still volunteers with them from time to time, seven years ago her focus shifted to her work with WWF. 

In the following sections, Mabardy will share a few tidbits of her time working as a Senior Development Officer, as well as some reasons why she believes the youth should consider careers in sustainability. 

The World Wildlife Fund In Numbers

  • 82% of World Wildlife Fund spending is directed to worldwide conservation.

  • In FY22, the organization raised $433 million with commitments from both private and public donors, a 15% increase over FY21.

  • WWF has offices in over 100 different countries

1. Simply Put, Sustainability 

Jobs Are Worthwhile

Figuring out what to do with your life can be tricky. There are numerous factors to consider, with each choice painting a different picture of your future. While it’s easy enough in such a scenario to be swayed by mantras like, ‘follow your dreams,’ or, ‘do what feels right to you,’ in most cases those words are empty and trite. 

Instead, then, how about considering the career path of someone like Mabardy? With years spent working for NPOs like Project Cure and sustainability organizations like WWF, one aspect of her job that she holds dear above all else is the fact that it’s allowed her to work with individuals that she believes to be the best representation of humanity. Namely, philanthropists and volunteers. 

While who you work with never tends to be anyone’s top demand while job hunting, it’s easy to imagine how satisfying it must be to be a part of an industry whose ultimate purpose is the betterment of the world for all. Through her experience, Mabardy has come to the simple but poignant realization that people do care. Whether it’s in healthcare, environmental work, or foster care, there are individuals in society who want to solve such issues and are willing to give their time and talent to do so. If, then, you’re someone who’s unsure about the next steps to take, why not try taking a page out of Mabardy’s book and interning at an NPO or NGO? You might just find that a career making an impact with sustainability is just what you need. 

2. Investing In Sustainability Jobs

Though all the talk of altruism and helping others can leave you bubbly inside, there’s still a stigma one needs to overcome when deciding to pursue an impact-driven career. The fact is, sustainability jobs tend to be thought of as low-salaried or mere ‘volunteer work’. 

Of course, while it would be nice to assume that anyone part of an industry with the fundamental goal of helping others would be okay with making less money, than, say, a banker, the real issue here is not about the numbers but more to do with the perception. 

RELATED READING: Pioneering Sustainable Innovations, a Journey of Impact with a Young Entrepreneur

In 2022 the entry-level salary of a Sustainability Manager was $59,000. In comparison, the average entry-level salary in the U.S. for that same year was $48,189. While skepticism is understandable when comparing one single job to every job in the country, numbers like this point to the reality that our perception of sustainability jobs need to change before we can ever start having faith in the numbers. 

If this wasn’t enough to convince you, as someone in the field for over 15 years, Mabardy understands that it’s by all means possible to be successful in the sustainability industry. She’s witnessed companies increasingly investing in talent and putting resources into building their own sustainability teams, trends that point toward a promising future with sustainability jobs. 

3. Making An Impact With Real Sustainability Projects

One of WWF’s more grander projects is called the Project for Finance Permanence (PFP). 

The work was started out of a need to more effectively manage ‘protected’ land like national parks or wildlife refuges. The fact is, most of these vital places are only protected on paper, with issues like limited funding and a lack of government policies leaving them open to threats such as illegal logging, mining, and wildlife poaching. In an effort to combat these issues, PFP aims to combat such crises through collaborative efforts between governments and communities/civil societies. Goals to protect 30% of the planet by 2030 have been set, and so far, the work has seen success in Bhutan, Brazil, Canada, Colombia, Costa Rica, and Peru, with future application projected in countries like Belize, Namibia, and Mongolia, among others. 

Making An Impact in Colombia

Focusing now on WWF’s work in Colombia, let’s take a real look at the benefits of PFP. To get the project started, WWF partnered with the Nature Conservancy. With two of the world’s largest environmental organizations collaborating, moving the needle on conservation work became that much easier. Furthermore, by adopting a Wall Street model of financing applied for conservation, they were able to streamline the whole process. 

It looked something like this:

  1. Raise money from multilaterals, individuals, and, over time, the government. 

  2. Once the government starts to invest, WWF’s investments tail off.

  3. Eventually, after 10 years or so, the government is fully funding a protected area until it’s self-sustaining. 

As of 2022, the Colombian government further demonstrated their commitment to conservation and sustainability by signing a joint declaration for a new PFP initiative called Heritage Colombia. This secures $245 million of public and private finance to permanently protect 32 million hectares of iconic Colombian landscapes and seascapes. Besides this, Heritage Colombia will further Colombia’s plan of reaching its 30X30 target to protect 30% of its land and 30% of its seas by 2030.

This is one of the many reasons why Mabardy believes in WWF and is so excited by its projects. However, despite real progress, she still believes there’s a need for more people who are passionate and skilled to invest in this space. If you care deeply about these issues, take some time to see how you can contribute–whether with a corporation, NPO, or NGO. We’re at a crossroads now where our planet needs as many people working toward the common goal of bettering it for tomorrow. 

Subscribe to the Voice of Sustainability

Get monthly newsletter with impact stories from around the World and news from SUSTAINOVA.