IEMA’s Deputy CEO, Martin Baxter, spoke about the need for all jobs to become ‘greener’ at a Blue Zone event at COP27 today, and how technology has a crucial role to play.
Hundreds of online viewers from the US, Bangladesh, Nigeria, Thailand and beyond joined those present in Sharm El-Sheikh for the event, titled: Digital and sustainability – The role of technology in climate action.
Baxter spoke about the big strategic challenges facing economies worldwide, and the links to sustainability and technology.
“We face a massive climate change crisis, and the time left to have any hope of keeping global temperatures within 1.5°C is rapidly diminishing,” he explained. “We also have other big challenges which interface with the digital world.
“We have a biodiversity crisis, we have a water crisis, we have a materials challenge in terms of the amount of waste we create, and we also have an equality challenge, as people do not have the opportunities.
“Technology is a huge part of the solution to the challenges we face. I see this as a big opportunity to connect the world in a better way, to provide information support, access to insights, and translating big data into real-world uses.”
Baxter – who was joined by Defra’s Group Chief Digital and Information Officer, Chris Howes – went on to outline how “all jobs need to be done in a greener way”, from engineering design, to logistics and procurement.
This will require an upskilling of entire economies, with Baxter adding: “In order to meet the skills challenge that we face, you need to provide bespoke learning and development opportunities for people.”
He highlighted recent work between IEMA and Deloitte looking at transitions in workforce skills, explaining how “there is no doubt that there has been a huge increase in the number of people working in sustainability roles.”
In terms of further IEMA resources that can be accessed online, Baxter pointed to guidance on Pathways to Net Zero, and revealed that additional guidance on adaptation for organisations will be published later this week.
He said: “People working with sustainability in mind, and working with new technologies in a digital future, need to be on a trajectory where they say ‘we can do this’ and ‘we can be successful’.
“There’s an awful lot of fear and anxiety from people out there, and we need to demonstrate how, through the world of work, we can be part of a cleaner, greener future, and part of the solution to the challenges.”
On his hopes for COP27, Baxter added: “This is all about translating ambition into action, because ultimately, unless we do something different, we are not going to be successful.
“Most countries have something in place at a very high strategic level, but they are not doing enough to deliver. I would like to see world leaders being very genuine around how they are going to deliver a whole-economy plan that is going to make this rapid transition.”
You can watch the event again here.