IEMA Connect 2021: A review

27th January 2022


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IEMA’s inaugural membership conference took place last December, with members treated to a day of thought-provoking discussions and workshops. Chris Seekings reports

IEMA Connect 2021, held in December, attracted an impressive line-up of speakers, from government representatives to sustainability professionals working at some of the world’s largest organisations.

The inaugural online conference gave IEMA members the opportunity to engage with thought-provoking panel discussions and workshops, exploring hard-hitting discussions on COP26, climate change and much more.

After a warm welcome from CEO Sarah Mukherjee MBE, attentions turned to the role of the built environment in tackling the climate crisis, with a galvanising presentation from Ayo Sokale, project manager at the Environment Agency.

The chartered civil engineer outlined the importance of taking a holistic approach to the challenge, focusing on the three pillars of sustainability – environmental, economic and social – and remaining mindful of the inextricable link between social inequality and environmental degradation.

“Use your voice at work, in your professional institutions, in your communities, and campaign on the things that matter to you,” she said. For people of colour trying to break into the environment and sustainability profession, she added: “Don’t let anything stop you from using your voice, or make you feel like you are not allowed to do what you want to do, even in a space that isn’t diverse yet – because you are going to be the one that makes it so!”

Three additional keynote presentations were made throughout the day-long conference, including one on breaking down barriers to build green skills across the globe, presented by Andrew Griffiths, head of value chain sustainability at Nestlé UK & Ireland.

Meghna Das, sustainability lead at UNICEF UK, gave a presentation on how to tackle the climate crisis for children, young people and communities, giving examples of private sector partnerships and further opportunities for engagement.

The sustainable business transformation of the 2020s was also explored by Mike Barry, director at Mike Barry Eco Limited, who posed three questions: Why do you need to become sustainable? What do you need to do to become sustainable? And how do you integrate sustainability into all you do?

IEMA members were also able to navigate through various panel discussions on how to reach net zero, building a skilled workforce to drive positive change, the next steps for tackling the global biodiversity challenge following the first part of COP15, and COP26 outcomes and challenges.

A day of networking, engagement, and fascinating discussion was closed by Mukherjee, who highlighted how a “strong sense of commitment and professionalism” came through strongly from IEMA members during the conference.

She added: “You will all take away particular memories and inspiration from the conference, as well as new contacts and ideas. A huge thank you to our wonderful members for your engagement and passion, and for helping us to make IEMA Connect 2021 such a success.”

IEMA members can rewatch all the sessions from the conference at bit.ly/3FXgdPl

Image credit | iStock

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