Taking an International Perspective on Sustainability: Q&A with Daniel Ocampo

Master’s Student Daniel Ocampo worked on water conservation for stakeholders in the Asia-Pacific region as part of his sustainability studies.

Daniel Ocampo (pictured) completed a Master of Sustainability at the University of Sydney in 2015 with a capstone project that involved working on water sustainability with the WWF. He explains why it is important to take an international perspective with career planning and why studying in Sydney provided such a valuable experience for him as an international student.

What aspects of the Master of Sustainability did you find most useful?

I think the most important part of the University of Sydney is its location in a multicultural environment. Of course the academic recognition is also valuable, but at the same time, the location of the University allows students to live and develop in a multicultural society. International students are key because they allow you to find out about the situation in their countries, and to discover the similarities between our countries. It’s also valuable for the networking and creating a global network. The world is not about one region – in my case Latin America – no, now it’s a global effort. That is one of the most important parts; it’s very rich.

Tell me about your project with the WWF

I have always been interested in food and water security. In my previous job, I had experience working with World Bank initiatives and through that experience, I knew that the World Wildlife Fund (WWF) was working with a certain tool and I was interested and keen to work with. So I contacted the WWF and they were interested to work with me, given my previous experience. It was a great combining knowledge from my previous work and knowledge from the Sustainability program coursework, and applying it in a completely different region – the Asia-Pacific.

I worked for the WWF. The World Wildlife Fund focuses mainly on conservation aspects but they also have a very multidisciplinary team. The projects they do might focus on conservation, but they incorporate a lot of aspects of sustainability into how they address conservation issues.

In my case, I worked on water stewardship (or water management) that focused on conservation of water for stakeholders in the Asia-Pacific region. The main area was the Mekong River basin. In that area of South-East Asia, it’s the longest and most important river. It has incredible biodiversity as well as important resources that people use for living – the water, the species that people use for agriculture, hunting, fisheries as well as industrial activities. This river is so important.

The idea was to analyse all the imports and exports – all the economic aspects of Australia and six Asia-Pacific countries in that region. I identified three or four main activities that involve imports or exports from Australia. I did an economic analysis of those activities and identified the main companies in those countries that were involved. The aim is for the WWF to develop further strategies to develop their approach to threats around water availability and quality in the Mekong River Basin and to develop answers with companies working in the area. This project is based on one of WWF’s current projects – the Water Stewardship Tool. With that tool, they can analyse the main impacts in that region, but they need more information – what the companies are, and what their relationship is with Australia.

My capstone project was so valuable – it enabled me to apply the knowledge that I’ve gained in the area that I’m keen to work in in the future.

What are your plans now that you have finished a Master in Sustainability at Sydney?

My plans are to go back to Latin America to get a job and work in sustainability. Knowing how developed and developing countries are doing things well and I would like to try and implement that in Latin American countries.

The Master of Sustainability Program is a multidisciplinary degree with six faculties across the University of Sydney delivering core content, and nine faculties teaching into the program’s electives. This breadth provides a thorough foundation in sustainability. It also allows graduates to appreciate the complexity of sustainability and understand the effects of change in various sectors.

The program:

  • Comprises three qualifications: the Graduate Certificate in Sustainability, Graduate Diploma in Sustainability and Master of Sustainability.
  • Provides a foundation in sustainability, including core aspects of energy and resources, health, food and water security, policy, analysis, society and change.
  • Is multidisciplinary, with core and elective units currently being delivered by ten faculties across the University.
  • Offers some flexibility in the choice of elective units and, for Master of Sustainability students, the design of the capstone research project.

Application due date for the Master of Sustainability program, commencing Semester 2 2016 is:
30 June 2016