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21st March 2011

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IEMA update on the development of the IEMA Diploma in sustainable business practice

The January issue of the environmentalist previewed the pilot of the IEMA Diploma in sustainable business practice (DipSBP), which concluded at the end of 2010. Since that article was published the course content has been reviewed and finalised.

The Diploma was launched on 21 March and is now open to members who are prepared for a personal and professional challenge. It will equip successful candidates with essential knowledge to become effective change makers for sustainable business practice.

The demands placed upon environment and sustainability professionals are changing from operational environmental management coordination and compliance to a role that is responsible for embedding environmental sustainability across the organisation, ensuring long-term business survival.

The DipSBP supports Associate members (AIEMA) requiring an advanced environmental qualification to drive strategic change in their organisations and to influence board-level decisions. It builds on the knowledge and understanding gained through completion or achievement of AIEMA, broadening an individual’s knowledge and understanding beyond their immediate role or sector.

Almost 65% of IEMA’s membership has achieved AIEMA and the new Diploma provides a supporting framework for these members to develop their knowledge and understanding to the level necessary to move to Full membership. We know from feedback and research that achieving Full membership is an ambition for many members and the Diploma has been created with this in mind.

Because the Diploma is aimed at members who are working in a business environment, it has been structured to integrate with working life and the assignments are often based on work-based practices and real-life examples, making the workload – although challenging – readily achievable.

Robin Bloodworth, trainer at pilot course provider Woodland Grange, says that having the course finally ready to roll out and deliver to IEMA members is “a dream”. “There has been a lot of discussion and debate about the introduction of an IEMA Diploma for many years so to see it going from concept, design, delivery, pilot and now the launch is an incredible feeling of satisfaction,” he says.

Bloodworth and IEMA assessor Dave Stanley have been involved in the development of the Diploma since its inception, when it was identified that a vocational bridge between the Associate certificate course and the knowledge required for Full membership was needed.

Stanley is certain that now the Diploma is available it will “arm” Associate members with “the skills and confidence to progress from an advisory role to active change management and positively towards a more sustainable future”.

He also says that the DipSBP, in its refined form, will help delegates achieve “credibility and status in practice” through teaching and learning. “It’s about enabling the delegates to achieve objectives through change,” he says.

Stanley also believes that they will feel empowered to shift their professional axis from concentrating solely on compliance to “considering natural resource use, energy, non-renewable resources and their availability, potential threats to organisations, security and supply, and whole-life costings, and how they might be addressed.”

Overall, he says that graduates of the Diploma will be able to look at things “far more strategically” than they did prior to undertaking the course as Associates.

Ultimately, both Bloodworth and Stanley are positive that employers will recognise that graduates of the Diploma have undertaken a valuable and useful course in strategic environmental management.

“Graduates will be able to confidently demonstrate that they have the expertise to prepare business cases, look at organisational risk management and manage performance improvement. All of that will enhance the credibility of not only the environmental manager or policy maker, but the organisation as a whole,” says Stanley

Three modules towards sustainable business practice

Students of the new IEMA Diploma in sustainable business practice are taught and assessed across three central modules of study. These are based on the level six descriptors of the Qualifications and Credit Framework, and those studying for the qualification have the opportunity to apply some of the assignments to their workplaces.

Module 1: Managing environmental media and issues – Managing the environmental aspects and impacts associated with operations, activities, products and services is a basic business need. As legal compliance is essential for businesses, organisations need competent environmental practitioners with a sound environmental knowledge base from which to develop management skills and capabilities to bring about environmental improvement.

This module builds on the knowledge gained through achieving Associate membership of IEMA and supports delegates in developing a broader understanding of managing environmental media and associated issues.

Module 2: Sustainability for business – This section of the Diploma aims to equip students with a strategic view of how “the environment” fits into the broader business agenda. In a changing world where corporate responsibility and business reputational risk are of increasing importance and prominence, this module allows environmental practitioners to develop the skills required to move environmental sustainability higher up the business agenda.

Module 3: Strategic environmental management – A wealth of information, training and support is available to organisations that want to manage their environmental aspects and impacts to improve their environmental performance and competitiveness. For this to be effective, environmental issues need to be central to business/organisational strategies and not seen as a bolt-on. The purpose of this module is to equip delegates with the tools to understand their role as leaders of change in an organisational context and work at board level to deliver strategic environmental management.


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