While members were independently telling IEMA how they value membership, the 13 regional steering groups (RSGs) were collectively delivering their own review of its services.
The series of meetings throughout the first quarter of the year allowed the UK and Ireland groups to understand IEMA’s new direction and to look at the more fulfilling and rewarding activities available to the groups that will collectively help support the delivery of the Institute’s Vision 2014.
The RSGs stated that they wish to play a bigger role in welcoming new members to IEMA but need to have what they call “information plus” on the Institute’s current projects, research and initiatives so that they can engage effectively with the membership.
Some of the RSGs also said the expertise and intelligence present within the groups is not currently being utilised to its full potential. IEMA plans to change this and ensure that the knowledge, talent, skills and thought leadership the individuals within the RSGs have to offer are applied where the entire membership can benefit.
“Environment practitioners need to be ‘chameleons’, able to communicate to all,” the RSGs told us. They said that the role of the practitioner as an agent of change, and having a professional development framework that supports this, is fundamental.
In the steering groups’ view, members should be taking part in more relevant continuing professional development rather than just “more” development opportunities.
IEMA plans to rectify this with the forthcoming launch of its Competency Framework, which will allow members to self-assess their level of knowledge and experience against professional expectations and IEMA membership levels. Also, every group highlighted the importance of mentoring, and each offered to upport and enter the mentoring scheme in some form.
IEMA’s regional events are topically driven and organised by the RSGs – with support from the Lincoln head office – in order to deliver a locally relevant, comprehensive and useful programme.
The RSGs took the February meetings as an opportunity to feed back on the current events system, budgets, and standardisation across the regions. While there are improvements to be made – both to assist the RSGs and to increase the value of each event for the membership – the general view of the regional events is that they are constantly improving in terms of quality, and member attendance is currently at a record high.
However, it was unanimously felt that members increasingly wish to access their professional development across a broad range of platforms.
The UK and Ireland groups make up 12 of IEMA’s 13 RSGs. The international group is an umbrella for the smaller groups of members that have formed throughout the rest of the world, assembling to form continent- or country-specific networks of environmental and sustainability professionals.
The RSGs contacted so far have strongly advocated the importance of an increased global reach via strengthened support for the fledgling international groups.
The importance of the global perspective and the horizon-scanning work being carried out by IEMA was also discussed by every one of the groups.
The launch issue of the new-look the environmentalist had been seen by the RSGs in the weeks leading up to the February meetings. The feedback they offered was realistic and very useful for future improvements.
The latest consultations and new regulation sections were – by a long way and almost unanimously – seen as being the greatest benefit of the changes to the membership magazine. However, they also said that there is a need to contextualise some of the feature articles for Northern Ireland, Scotland and Wales.
We quickly responded with an article on “The One Wales: One Planet” initiative, featuring an interview with Welsh environment minister Jane Davidson in the March issue. Similar articles are planned over the coming months for both Northern Ireland and Scotland.
This initial review of the magazine was largely positive and it is seen as an important move for the Institute and its membership.
Get involved in your region
The RSGs are populated by members of the Institute who give up their time to support the aims and objectives of the organisation.
IEMA believes that the best way to meet the needs of its members is to ensure that our regional steering groups reflect the diversity of the Institute’s membership.
We like to see all sections of the environmental profession represented.