Environment Management: Environment careers multiplying rapidly

With corporates becoming increasingly conscious of their social responsibilities and public image, the demand for qualified environment managers and advisors is steadily increasing.

The seven percent plus growth of the Indian economy in the recent years is not only raining a shower of capital and consumer goods and attracting investment from around the world, but has also brought in its train a plethora of environment despoliation problems. And with corporates becoming increasingly conscious of their social responsibilities and public image, its hardly surprising that the demand for professional environment managers and advisors is steadily increasing. Suddenly there is a rising demand for qualified personnel in environment research, education, and management.

Indeed career options in this field are multiplying rapidly. Currently, most self-respecting companies boast environmental monitoring cells (EMCs), especially corporates classified as red and orange companies (very polluting and less polluting respectively, according to the Environment Protection Act 1986). Moreover, newly promoted and/ or proposed projects need to submit an environmental impact assessment certificate to the Union ministry of environment and forests prior to initiating any major project or manufacturing unit.

With environmental monitoring cells required to conduct assessments on a number of fronts ranging from town, water, sound, and displacement of people to damage done by blasting, construction etc, every corporate requires a team of qualified environment scientists, engineers, social scientists, environmental lawyers etc to safeguard their interests and promote business activities. This apart, EMCs also play an important part in helping corporate organisations to acquire international certification which is required by a growing number of importer nations.

While some companies employ EMCs for these processes, others outsource environment related tasks and problems to environmental consultants. With some of the really big names in environment management including AIC Watson Consultants and Ernst & Young setting up shop in India, career prospects for those with a passion for environment and ecology preservation are on the upswing.

Unfortunately, within Indias rigidly compartmentalised higher education system very few specialisation courses are available at the undergraduate level, though institutions such as Pune University and Jawaharlal Nehru University (JNU), Delhi, offer undergrad degree programmes in environmental science. At the postgrad level, a larger number of varsities such as Guru Gobind Singh Indraprastha University, Delhi, offer environment related courses either within differing disciplines or in separate faculties. Some varsities such as Pune, Bangalore, and JNU also offer a wide range of diploma courses in environment sciences.

Inevitably given contemporary Indias abysmal basic literacy statistics, environment awareness is low. Comments Dr. Rashneh Pardiwala, a life sciences graduate of Mumbais famous St. Xaviers College, who pressed on to acquire a Masters in environmental resource management and a Ph D at the University of Edinburgh, UK, and is founder-director of the Mumbai-based Centre for Environment Research and Education (CERE): In Western countries where environment management is a big thing, there are numerous opportunities to specialise in the subject. But in India, awareness about the vital importance of this subject is sorely lacking. There are many students, who even though they are interested in the subject dont know the options available to them. However, if awareness of environment management as a satisfying career option were to increase in India, there would automatically be more managers. This is a high-potential career which needs to be brought to the forefront of the national consciousness and media should highlight its importance

MODEL SYLLABUS. To this end CERE has drawn up ambitious plans to ‘radically transform environment education syllabuses in schools and colleges by preparing a prototype curriculum for CISCE and SSC (Maharashtra state board) schools. Simultaneously its team of professionals will train school teachers. Moreover, Pardiwala (a former scientific advisor to the World Wide Fund for Nature and Scientists for Global Responsibility) is a member of a task force helping to formulate the National Policy on Environmental Education. CERE has also been requested to make recommendations to the Delhi-based National Council for Education Research and Training (NCERT) which has been directed by the Supreme Court of India to develop a model syllabus for environment education in schools.

A qualified environmentalist could land a job in one of these sectors: commercial/industrial, government, or the non-profit sector, or in the fields of pollution control, waste management, engineering, education, law, conservation, or fishery and wildlife management. Comments Pardiwala wryly: Remuneration depends entirely on which sector one joins and can range from big bucks to peanuts! In terms of work satisfaction, personal and professional rewards tend to be inversely proportional to financial rewards. For some it is a passion and crusade, but for others it could be a profession involving cost-benefit analyses or squaring off environmental balance sheets of large multinational firms.

One of the great discoveries of the latter half of 20th century is that industry and agricultural development takes a toll on nature and the environment. Considering that every company and institution is responsible for the environment, there is an urgent need for the creation of a large pool of professionals who possess the skill-sets to limit the damage of industrialisation and development on the worlds endangered and increasingly fragile environment and to clean up the litter. For nature lovers as also for the growing number of idealists committed to ‘sustainable development, environment management is a high-potential career option which offers the prospect of combining passion with profession.

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