Making the profession's voice heard during the election

29th May 2015

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Louise Wright

Following IEMA's successful #sustainableMP election campaign, Tim Balcon, the institute's chief executive, offers a message of thanks to members for their engagement and enthusiasm

When I joined IEMA in 2013, one of the most common things members said to me was: “I really want IEMA’s voice to be louder, more recognisable”. Given our global membership of 15,000 and untold depth and breadth of collective expertise I couldn’t help but agree. That’s why we made a decision to up our game to create a stronger, more resonant presence in the media and policy worlds.

We’ve been working hard to transform the views members give us into meaningful and impactful statements. You’ve mirrored that by giving us your opinions so we now have a rich collection of statistics and comments to work with, and I’d like to thank you for that.

Let me give you some examples. You may recall how we have used the member engagement on the revision to ISO 14001 to help shape this international standard. When mandatory greenhouse-gas reporting was introduced, IEMA members’ views played a part in that government decision. More recently, the UK general election presented us with an opportunity to escalate this kind of activity and I really think that – thanks to the fantastic contributions of members – this has paid off.

Starting in February this year, we carried out a series of polls (see panel, right) among UK members on key policy and legislation issues that will prove crucial to the next term of parliament. You responded in droves. Each poll generated hundreds of responses, giving clear and decisive direction on what you wanted from the new government. And you weren’t coy in your views. Most of the data was in the 80th and 90th percentiles, leaving little room for doubt as to the strength of feeling on some really important issues, such as climate leadership and sustainable resource management.

We took those results to the media and found that there was an enormous appetite for our statistics. Just type “IEMA UK” into Google news and you’ll get a good flavour of the takeup of our poll results. You wanted a louder voice? I think this shows we have made huge strides in the right direction.

By getting involved in our election campaign, you’ve helped generate almost 3,000 responses, more than 50 headlines and in excess of 60 new policy calls – all in three months.

That is no mean feat, especially considering that organisations often struggle to get their voice heard at general elections. I think this shows that, together, IEMA and its members can achieve some really impressive things.

Even though the election campaign is over, our work isn’t done. With the new Conservative-majority government in place we will be taking your views – particularly your 10 sustainability actions (p.5) – to the new secretaries of state and doing all we can to transform these from a wishlist to new policies.

I think you’ll agree that with our election campaign we have found a winning formula for communicating your views to government through the media. We hope not only to replicate the success of this campaign in the future, but to build on it until you hear and see us on national and international broadcast channels. Keep getting engaged in our polls, consultations and events and it won’t be long until you’re seeing the results in some seriously high-profile places.

As a final word, thank you to every member who took the time to get involved. It’s been impressive and I’m looking forward to seeing much more of this engagement in the future.

IEMA election polls

In a series of polls in the 12 weeks up to the UK general election, IEMA asked members' opinions on what the incoming government should focus on. Fully 2,846 responses were received across the five surveys.

Key findings include:

  • 72% said energy conservation and efficient use of materials should be the main area for future energy investment;
  • 96% want the new government to set up a cross-sector sustainability skills strategy with STEM skills incorporating sustainability; and sustainability included as part of the national curriculum and lifelong learning programmes;
  • 75% believe the UK planning system is not currently capable of playing its part in the transition to a sustainable economy;
  • 80% want a a Stern for resources style report published to make the economic case for resource management;
  • 91% want the new government to make a commitment to tackling climate risks;
  • 92% want the role of the Green Investment Bank to expand so that it has powers to appropriately borrow and invest in projects that both protect and improve the UK's natural capital; and
  • 89% were unhappy with the lack of focus on environment in the run-up to the general election.


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