Oluwaseun Johnson (he/him)
Volunteer, IEMA North West Regional Group
I got into sustainability when I began to work for a subcontractor of the United States Agency for International Development (USAID) on their MARKETS 2 project as an entomologist trainer in five geopolitical regions of Nigeria. As an entomologist and beekeeper, I look beyond honey and other hive products into the social, symbiotic, and environmental aspects and impacts of bees. In October 2015, I was invited by the Committee on World Food Security (CFS) of the Food and Agricultural Organisation (FAO) of the United Nations for an event that was part of the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) and the Zero Hunger goal launch.
The best thing about working in sustainability is making humanity comfortable today without compromising the comfort of future generations. Sustainability helps manage resources to improve qualitative livelihoods. The bulk of my work has been with smallholder farmers in Africa introducing sustainability; seeing them happy when the changes they make yield results, gladdens my heart. Another example is when I work on projects where I can help clients save money while at peace with their stakeholders, and the environment is minimally affected or even improved. Or, when I hear of an invention that has a minimal carbon footprint and helps improve standards of living.
“To remain employable or in business, you must at least have basic knowledge of sustainability, hence my recommendation is to join bodies like IEMA where you don’t only get relevant knowledge but also updated information on new innovations and the chance to interact with relevant industry stakeholders from different sectors and career paths.”
Volunteering is a form of personal corporate social responsibility. Many of the world’s most worthy causes can’t generate the financial strength to run themselves. Volunteering is the only tool that helps these causes, knocking out the bulk of cost.
I don’t believe any economic venture will survive this generation without going green. It’s already almost impossible to do business without thinking of how to minimise the use of finite resources. Renewable energy sources are slowly becoming cheaper, while non-renewable sources are getting more expensive with several legislative and stakeholder bottlenecks.
I anticipate that there will be a lot of transition to green renewable energy sources. The Ukraine-Russia crisis has made the energy sectors in Europe vulnerable with consequences cutting across the globe. This will further speed up innovation in renewable sources and government commitment to the transition.
The energy transition will also lead to consumers using energy more efficiently. The increased cost of energy in the UK led to consumers devising more efficient ways of consuming energy. Building constructions, appliance manufacture, and industrial processes will also take energy efficiency into serious consideration, employing circular economic principles to reduce waste and promote renewable materials. Other opportunities will arise in green financing and transportation, among others.
I have always maintained that all career paths can incorporate sustainability. Architects will need to design sustainable buildings, garment makers will need to understand principles of life cycle thinking, and manufacturers must employ principles of life cycle thinking to remain in business. Even politicians must have strong environmental plans to win elections. To remain employable or in business, you must at least have basic knowledge of sustainability, hence my recommendation is to join bodies like IEMA where you don’t only get relevant knowledge but also updated information on new innovations and the chance to interact with relevant industry stakeholders from different sectors and career paths.
IEMA is the membership body for environment and sustainability professionals