EVERYTHING YOU NEED TO KNOW ABOUT
BECOMING AN ENVIRONMENTAL POLICY ADVISOR
Are your students concerned about climate change, environmental protection and ecosystem restoration? Are they interested in how governments can be persuaded to take meaningful steps towards a durable and environmentally friendly future? Do they want to know how science can be used to influence policy decisions? If so, do not miss the chance to know more about what an environmental policy advisor does. This job consists of researching new scientific insights and making sure politicians consider them when making sound policy decisions affecting the environment; for example, in the management of waterways and landscapes, or forest conservation. This career profile requires people with great interpersonal, problem-solving, leadership, and communication skills. Are you curious to know more about this fascinating career path? Meet Thomas Wellens, an Environmental Policy Advisor for the Cabinet of the Vice Governors of the province of Antwerp.
Find out about the key skills to become an Environmental Policy Advisor.
Active listening, social skills and collaboration are a must when working as a political advisor. Meeting diverse stakeholders, with different backgrounds and expertise, requires the ability to accommodate and manage diverse views and expectations.
As an Environmental Policy Advisor, this skill is fundamental as it would enable you a deeper and thorough comprehension of what you are researching or what people are proposing to you.
Being a critical thinker and keeping an open mind is highly desirable. As Thomas says, “don’t always assume from the start that a proposed solution is correct or it is what you are looking for. Think for yourself and don’t be shy to ask questions.”
In order to make politicians adopt environmentally friendly measures, the ability to convince and persuade them is of utmost importance.
For a policy proposal to have an effect, is it crucial to communicate it clearly and effectively: explaining complex environmental issues in a simple and understanding way.
Working as a policy advisor takes a high level of physical and mental strain. To keep it balanced, it is important to manage your time carefully and delegate tasks to your employees.
Meet Thomas Wellens, Environmental Policy Advisor
Thomas studied biomedical sciences at the University of Antwerp, and he has a Bachelor in Chemical Engineering and a Master in Biochemical Engineering from the Catholic University of Leuven. Complementary, he holds a certificate in “Water and Climate Engineering” from the Delft University of Technology. After he graduated, he worked for a few years in the biomedical sector. Sooner, he realised that this was not his true passion and that he was much more interested in climate change, deforestation or biodiversity loss. Influenced by his grandfather and the environmental activist David Attenborough, he wanted to “give nature a voice in the political debate.” For this reason, he became an Environmental Policy Advisor for the Cabinet of the Vice-Governors of the province of Antwerp, where he advises “the political leaders of the province concerning ecosystem restoration, environmental protection, and climate change.”
In this 18th episode of our STE(A)M IT STEM Careers Podcast, María Dios from European Schoolnet spoke with Thomas Wellens, an Environmental Policy Advisor for the Cabinet of Vice-Governors of the province of Antwerp.
Thomas Wellens has always been passionate about nature, its intrinsic value and beauty. In this podcast interview, he explains his main tasks as an Environmental Policy Advisor and sheds light on how Nature-based solutions can help us combat climate change and biodiversity loss. To conclude, he encourages students to work hard and to commit to what they are passionate about, adding “don’t be afraid of making mistakes, don’t be afraid of taking a step into the unknown.” Listen to the full interview to find out more about his passionate and interesting career!
CC BY 4.0: all the materials and content presented on this STEM Job profile have been co-created by STE(A)M IT, a project funded by the European Union’s ERASMUS+ programme project STE(A)M IT (Grant agreement 612845-EPP-1-2019-1- BE-EPPKA3-PI-FORWARD), in collaboration with the Nature-Based Solutions (NBS) phase 2, a pilot project initiated and funded by the European Commission Directorate-General for Research and Innovation. European Schoolnet (EUN) oversees the interviewing and creating of the NBS Career Sheets, with the support of VO EUROPE.