COP27 described as an ‘inspiration overload’ during IEMA Blue Zone event

18th November 2022

IEMA CEO, Sarah Mukherjee MBE, hosted a Blue Zone event on boosting green skills at COP27 yesterday, where one panellist described the conference as an “inspiration overload”.

The remark came from councillor Marianne Overton MBE, who was asked to give her thoughts on the summit as it nears its conclusion. She said: “I have been so excited by so many ideas, and I really want to get home and get them started straight away.

“There are few places in the world where you have inspiration overload, and this is it. Yes we do need funding, but actually our biggest resource is yourselves, those of us here are the ones who will really change the world.

“Starting at home, in our own patches, then working with our local councils, and then working nationally and internationally. It is by working together that we will resolve these really big problems that we face.”

Overton (c) speaks about "inspiration overload" at COP27

The message was particularly fitting for the event, titled: Capacity building on green skills to enable local, regional and international climate action.

Overton was joined on the panel by Oluwakemi Ajakaiye MIEMA, executive director of Ampak Nigeria Limited, Ali Hassan FIEMA, professor at Ain Shams University, French senator, Ronan Dantec, Mayor of Autun, Vincent Chauvet, Clifford Galea Vella, politician from The Council of European Municipalities and Regions’ young elected officials committee, and Laila Takeh, head of net zero transformation at Deloitte.

Hassan gave a presentation on the role of higher education in the fight against climate change, explaining how universities play a “pivotal” role in addressing environmental challenges, and must adapt to deliver the green skills that the world urgently needs.

Another highlight was Ajakaiye’s presentation on the changing labour force in Nigeria and Africa more broadly, which outlined how the continent’s “strong, entrepreneurship, vibrant, venturesome, and young population” will create numerous opportunities for boosting green skills.

A similar message was given by Vella, who spoke about how young people are the “trailblazers” and “problem solvers” of the challenges facing the world, and how gender equality will also be key to boosting green skills worldwide.

Ajakaiye (c) discusses Africa's workforce

Takeh discussed a new toolkit developed by IEMA and Deloitte to help organisations understand their readiness for a sustainable future, while Chauvet talked about the role that mayors can play boosting green skills at the local level, and Dantec touched on the extra finance that is needed.

And in a powerful message, Mukherjee, explained how the whole global workforce must be involved in the transition to net zero. The IEMA CEO continued: “Without the skills, without the training, and without education, there will be no green economy.

“These skills are not just for the office workers and the latte-drinking classes, but they are for technicians, for engineers, for people who are doing first and secondary jobs within the economy and are absolutely vital if we are to get where we need to go.”

Hassan (c) talks about role of higher education

Mukherjee was also joined by Takeh and IEMA’s deputy CEO, Martin Baxter, for a hybrid COP27 event hosted by the International Chamber of Commerce yesterday morning.

This involved a deeper dive into the toolkit developed by IEMA and Deloitte, and explored research by the two which recently found “double-digit growth” in green skills within the recruitment market.

However, the research also found various challenges and barriers to organisations embedding green skills within their business, including a “one-size-fits-all approach” to training staff.

“A one-size-fits-all approach, while it is a good start, is not enough, and we hope the toolkit will help,” Takeh said. “It should help you understand what is required for your organisation to survive and thrive in this shift to a sustainable and low-carbon economy.”

You can explore the IEMA/Deloitte research further here, and download the toolkit here.

Further information on green skills can be found at IEMA's newly-launched Green Careers Hub here.

Catch up on all our coverage of COP27 here.

Baxter, Takeh and Mukherjee discuss IEMA/Deloitte research

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