TUM Alumna Carina van Welden standing in front of a field of young plants.

TUM Alumna Carina van Weelden is currently consulting on a forestry project in Vietnam. The photo shows her at a research plot at the Quy Nhon forestry operation in central Vietnam. Here, four hectares of Acacia trees have been replanted to demonstrate sustainable production of lumber (photo: GIZ/Vu Xuan Kiem).

Alumni in sustainability
Expert for Development Cooperation Carina van Weelden
“I Want to Make the World a Little Bit Better”
21. Sep 2023
Reading time Min.
Since graduating, TUM Alumna Carina van Weelden has been working overseas in conservation projects. In addition to her love of adventure, what drives her most is her desire for a sustainable and socially just world.
Carina van Weelden has inherited her adventurous spirit. For generations, her family has been drawn to living and working abroad. Her parents, her mother German, her father Dutch, moved frequently, which taught Carina van Weelden early on to embrace new environments. “I didn’t mind letting go and settling in somewhere new,” she says. At 16, she went to school in China for a year. “This is what set the course for me,” she recalls. Since then, wanderlust has been more familiar to her than being homesick. She wanted to travel to foreign countries, especially Asia, and learn languages – meanwhile, she has added Vietnamese, her ninth foreign language, to her list.


For the past two and a half years, Carina van Weelden has been living in Hanoi, Vietnam. Before that, she was in the Philippines, Mexico and Bangladesh. However, Carina van Weelden is not just a globetrotter. She also wants to make her contribution to “making the world a little bit better” as she says. This is why she decided to do an internship at the Deutsche Gesellschaft für Internationale Zusammenarbeit (GIZ) GmbH during her master’s degree at TUM and get involved in nature conservation projects. She is currently overseeing a forest conservation project in Vietnam, where she is working with local government representatives to make forest management more environmentally friendly and at the same time more socially responsible. “Economic systems can only function well if they are circular systems,” Carina van Weelden firmly believes. While on one side of the globe the forest owners are called upon to produce sustainably, the Europeans on the other side of the globe are the ones who can contribute to sustainable forest management by buying wood in a responsible way. But also for the people in Vietnam who live off forestry, sustainable use must be ensured. “Environmental protection is not just philanthropy,” Carina van Weelden says. “Economic aspects play an important role.”

I Was Able to Directly Apply the Knowledge I Gained during My Studies at TUM.

Carina van Weelden

Doing her master’s degree at TUM played a major role in her current profession and paved the way for her career, says Carina van Weelden. After she completed her bachelor’s degree in a comparatively specialized subject, Water Management, TUM provided her with the opportunity to pursue an international master’s degree. In Sustainable Resource Management, she focused on the field of Protected Area Management, with a study focus on the business aspects. “I was able to directly apply the knowledge I gained during my studies at TUM to the project in the Philippines,” she recalls. Her internship with GIZ in the Philippines, which involved a wilderness area to be protected, laid the foundation for her professional career.


TUM has not only shaped her professional career, but also her private life. It was here that she met her partner, with whom she now travels the world. And the journey is far from over. “The world is so big and I certainly haven’t tired of moving around yet,” Carina van Weelden says. Although living and working abroad means knowing her family is far away, adapting to different lifestyles, and possibly being exposed to unhealthy environmental influences or air pollution, she gladly puts up with it: “I believe that I can make a contribution to improving people’s lives and to preserving global goods and them being used more sustainably.” The desire for social justice, regardless of origin, continues to drive her.

Portrait of Carina van Weelden.

TUM Alumna Carina van Weelden (Photo: Israel Alejandro Torres Figueroa).

Carina van Weelden

Master Sustainable Resource Management 2015


In 2012, Carina van Weelden graduated with a bachelor’s degree in International Water Management from the University of Applied Sciences in Vlissingen, the Netherlands. She then completed a master’s degree in Sustainable Resource Management at TUM, graduating magna cum laude in 2015.

During her studies, she did an internship at the Deutsche Gesellschaft für Internationale Zusammenarbeit (GIZ) GmbH, which took her to the Philippines. Since then, she has lived primarily in Asia, where she works as a conservation consultant for GIZ. The projects are funded by the German government and are implemented in cooperation with local governments.

The primary goal of her work is the sustainable and socially equitable management of ocean and forest ecosystems, for example, as well as the preservation of local biodiversity. Carina van Weelden is currently based in Hanoi, Vietnam, and is supporting a bilateral project on sustainable forest management.

In her free time she enjoys exercising, scuba diving, surfing and hiking. She is passionate about Origami and learning new languages.