Chris Seekings reports back on this year’s member conference programme
IEMA members have described this year’s IEMA Connect 2022, which was packed full of engaging sessions and speakers, as “interesting”, “excellent”, “compelling” and “fantastic”.
The week-long conference saw a wide range of experts come together for hard-hitting keynotes and panel discussions on net zero, climate change, embedding green skills and more, with thousands of IEMA members also taking the opportunity to expand their global network of contacts and continuing professional development.
IEMA members’ central role
Kicking off proceedings was COP26 president Alok Sharma, who spoke of the “central role” that sustainability professionals play in “keeping 1.5°C alive”, before describing the lead-up to COP27 as a “critical moment” to “redouble our efforts” in tackling the climate crisis.
In a rallying speech, he said: “Friends, the case for action is immense. The cost of inaction would be catastrophic. The choice is clear. Let’s all redouble our efforts and recommit to making the right choice for the planet and for future generations in everything you and your businesses do.
“Skilled climate, environment and sustainability professionals like those across the IEMA membership, many of whom are at the vanguard of the green skills revolution, will have a central role to play in keeping 1.5°C alive.”
“Environment and sustainability professionals will have a central role to play in keeping 1.5°C alive”
A packed schedule
Given the vast array of speakers and topics, it’s impossible to single out just one highlight from the conference.
However, with COP27 taking place in Sharm El Sheikh a couple of weeks later, it was particularly enlightening to attend a session on the sustainability challenges facing Africa, with speakers from Sierra Leone, Nigeria and Ghana discussing the unique issues facing the continent.
The Future Generations Commissioner for Wales, Sophie Howe, called for Universal Basic Income to improve life chances for young people, and several experts shared their insights on starting a career in sustainability.
Another feature of this year’s conference was the #IEMAChampions campaign, which saw IEMA members nominate any person or organisation that is going above and beyond for sustainability and the environment.
The huge interaction on social media was a testament to the great work that so many are doing.
IEMA also made several important announcements during the week, including the launch of its Green Careers Hub (greencareershub.com) – a new platform where anybody, from any sector or background, can go to understand how they can play a role in greening the economy. It also launched its Guidance on Sustainability for NHS Non-Executive Directors (bit.ly/Guidance_NHS_NEDs) and a new policy briefing on COP27 (bit.ly/COP27_briefing), giving members an overview of what to expect at the climate summit in Egypt.
As the curtain closed on IEMA Connect 2022, CEO Sarah Mukherjee MBE spoke of the encouragement she felt at seeing so many members networking together, and the honour of attracting such a wide range of experts speaking on major topics from around the world.
“Something I will personally take from Connect 2022 is the vast variety of areas of work that are represented by our members and speakers, and of course the level of skill and knowledge showcased – evidence of the crucial role that you all play,” she said.
“We are already looking ahead to next year, so make sure to watch this space for more information, and the chance to join us again for an unmissable event.”
IEMA members can watch sessions on demand at bit.ly/3gLjb1L