2020 vision: The year ahead

31st January 2020

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As a sustainability professional, I have been eagerly anticipating the arrival of 2020; there is so much happening this year and I can't recall our agenda ever having had such profile, impact or momentum.

The political environment is moving apace, too. We have now left the EU, and to ensure continuity and an absence of any regulatory gap, Bills covering the environment and fisheries should have been enacted – see Martin Baxter's column on page 8 for further details. Additionally, Sajid Javid's budget promises infrastructure investment, which suggests a busy order book for our consultant and impact assessment community.

Furthermore, 2020 will see a series of events in the build-up to November's COP26 international climate negotiations in Glasgow, and supporting the transition to net-zero. Pressure to deliver substantive impact will be immense. Consider the public demand demonstrated by the likes of Extinction Rebellion, the school strikes, the scientific community, business and finance, for whom the argument has been so helpfully spearheaded by Mark Carney. The limited outcomes from Madrid add further motivation. Climate and environment emergencies have been declared and commitments made – and Glasgow needs to actively demonstrate the shift from rhetoric to action in order to support change.

“Never has the demand for the knowledge and skills of our members been greater“

Many of the events throughout the coming year are focused and themed around delivering net-zero and wider environmental net gain. Zero-carbon operations remain aspirational for most at present, so offsetting provides early action towards the global target required by the science. It's a complex area, so IEMA, led by policy lead Nick Blyth and supported by our Climate Change and Energy Network members, will be speaking at conferences and events throughout the year. It will also help members get up to speed on this critical issue through webinars and other resources.

Never has the demand for the knowledge and skills of our members been greater, and never has the knowledge that we have given greater cause for concern and anxiety. Please give a thought to your personal wellbeing and ensure that you are fit, well and able to take on the challenge – and enjoy making a difference throughout the year ahead.

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