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Sustainable nongovernmental organizations (NGOs) make essential contributions to the environment, society and the sustainability of the world at large. They’re responsible for important research, aid, consumer awareness, conservation and so much more, and it’s important for you, as a sustainability student, to be aware of the most influential organizations working in sustainability today. These NGOs often offer valuable resources to students, including research, hands-on internships and volunteer opportunities. Read on to find out how 14 of the most influential sustainability NGOs are making a difference, and identify which ones you should get involved with.<!- mfunc feat_school ->
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Johns Hopkins University
Featured Program: Online Master of Science in Environmental Science and Policy
Arizona State University
Featured Program: Online Master of Science in Engineering in Sustainable Engineering
Southern New Hampshire University
Featured Program: MBA with concentration in Sustainability and Environmental Compliance
- CERES: CERES promotes sustainable business practices and solutions by working with more than 80 companies, from auto companies to financial services providers (a third are Fortune 500 firms), as well as 130 member organizations. In 2003, Ceres launched the Investor Network on Climate Risk (INCR), which has grown to include 100 leading investors collectively managing more than $11 trillion in assets.
- Conservation International (CI): CI works with scientists, local communities and practitioners in the field to protect nature, global biodiversity and human communities. It strives to protect natural wealth, promote sustainable business and foster effective governance. CI has supported the creation, expansion and improved management of nearly 50 million acres of marine and terrestrial protected areas, and its data collection has led to the discovery of more than 1,400 species new to science.
- Doctors Without Borders: Doctors Without Borders provides emergency medical aid to people affected by conflict, epidemics, disasters or exclusion from health care. Since 1971, the organization has treated tens of millions of people in over 80 countries. In 1999, it received the Nobel Peace Prize.
- Food and Water Watch: Food and Water Watch works to make food, fish and water safe, accessible and sustainable. They’ve raised consumer awareness of the environmental and economic costs of bottled water, and have helped dozens of communities — from Stockton, California to Trenton, New Jersey — fight the privatization of public water supplies.
- Greenpeace: When you think of eco-protest, Greenpeace is likely to pop in your mind. Founded in 1971, it’s the largest nonviolent, direct action environmental organization in the world with 2.8 million members. Greenpeace’s work focuses on climate change, oceans, forests, toxics, nuclear energy and sustainable agriculture.
- Heifer International: Heifer International has provided over 20.7 million families — that’s 105.1 million men, women and children — with animals and training in sustainable agriculture so that they can feed and care for themselves. Founded over 70 years ago by a U.S. farmer, the organization focuses on ending hunger and poverty.
- Natural Resources Defense Council (NRDC): NRDC’s more than 350 lawyers, scientists and other professionals work with businesses, elected officials and community groups in the U.S. and internationally on issues including curbing global warming, clean energy, reviving the world’s oceans, defending endangered wildlife and wild places, pollution prevention, ensuring safe and sufficient water and fostering sustainable communities.
- The Nature Conservancy (TNC): Focused on conserving land and species around the world, TNC has protected more than 119 million acres of land and thousands of miles of rivers worldwide. It also operates more than 100 marine conservation projects worldwide.
- Ocean Conservancy: Since 1972, the Ocean Conservancy has worked to protect the health and vitality of the world’s oceans, including the species that call it home and the humans whose livelihoods depend upon them. Through its International Coastal Cleanup program, the organization has removed 144,606,491 pounds of trash from the world’s beaches over the last 25 years.
- Oxfam: An international confederation of 17 organizations, Oxfam fights poverty and injustice in more than 90 countries. They work on interconnected issues like human rights, emergency response and sustainable development.
- Sierra Club: Founded in 1892 by conservationist John Muir, the Sierra Club is one of the oldest and largest environmental organizations in the U.S. It has protected millions of acres of wilderness and has helped to pass key environmental legislation, including the Clean Air Act, the Clean Water Act and the Endangered Species Act. It’s also leading efforts to move away from the use of fossil fuels.
- Slow Food International: As its name implies, Slow Food stands for the opposite of fast food: clean, fair and healthy food for all, regional traditions, gastronomic pleasure and a slow pace of life. Begun in Italy in the 1980s, Slow Food has members in 160 countries and promotes the principles of its Slow Food Manifesto through local and international events, its University of Gastronomic Sciences and more.
- World Resources Institute: WRI works with leaders to turn information into action, with a focus on issues like climate change, energy, food, forests, water, cities and transportation, governance, business and finance. WRI has over 450 experts and staff working around the globe.
- World Wildlife Fund (WWF): The WWF works in 100 countries to conserve nature and protect biodiversity. Founded in 1961, it’s now supported by nearly 5 million members worldwide.