I am a Dual Degree HBA Candidate with BSc in Biodiversity & Conservation. By being in student government over my academic career, I have worked on initiatives that advocate for more comprehensive resource allocation strategies for mental illness, and more sustainability literacy education opportunities for high school and university students. In my personal life, I try to live out my sustainable values by living a low-waste lifestyle and tailoring my diet accordingly. My interests also extend to intersectional leadership discussion and competitive long-distance running.
What is your personal definition of sustainability?
Sustainability has to do with practices that promote the preservation of our biosphere while defending the quality of life of all humans and other species. It involves actions that are able to be maintained in long term to help conserve the ecosystems present on earth, but also making these practices accessible to all people, businesses, and governments by having adaptive approaches to various cultures and external environments. Sustainability is an ongoing advocacy issue that highlights the potential effects our actions have on the planet’s wellbeing and the extended effects that complacency has on future economic, political, and social reality.
What role do you see sustainability playing in your professional career?
With a great passion for conservation and environmental justice, I hope to be working on projects that work from a consulting and strategy perspective to help provide innovative solutions to many issues such as sustainable energy, sustainable materials sourcing, ecosystem degradation recovery, and waste production. No matter the role, I hope to bring an environment-focused lens that helps to better the community that the organization I work for operates in. My career must coincide with my passion for climate action advocacy that calls on governments to implement and enforce environmental mandates that are realistic and accessible for all individuals no matter the socioeconomic predisposition. I will work to integrate these into any organization I may be present in and work to implement sustainability education programming in organizations and industries that have low adoption of sustainable energy and material sources. The major goal is to make sure I can work in an environment that directly works towards major system change that supports conservation efforts internally within the organization and with the clients or suppliers involved.
What sustainability projects have you been engaged in?
In high school, I started becoming more interested in green initiatives. This led to me started to practice more environmentally responsible actions in my diet, my use of disposable goods, and advocacy around the use of fossil fuels. This inspired my work with the Eco-School club at my school and across my school board to support events that encouraged behaviours that minimized waste in schools. In Grade 12, I was elected as a Student Trustee of my school board and worked with the Energy Conservation Officer to promote initiatives that reduced paper waste at all schools and offices owned by the school board. As well, I collaborated with her to gather student insights on how they felt about the current Eco-Schools initiatives in schools and help reassess how well we promote and execute these initiatives. Coming to Western, I began to educate myself in more on the sociological implications of sustainability. I was exposed to other social issues through the mental health advocacy club on campus called Active Minds Western where I have held executive positions. This experience has opened my network of individuals who are also passionate about social issues and the systemic injustices that resist advocacy.
Joseph De Sousa