Safety in numbers

9th February 2017

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Richard Thomas

The profession must speak together in uncertain times.

Last month I wrote that there has never been a greater need for us, as environment and sustainability professionals, to stand up for what we believe. I said this because, with all the political upheaval we are experiencing daily, I feel it is of utmost importance for us to stick together and make our voice heard.

A number of people took the time to get in touch with me after reading my thoughts on this topic, saying that they found it reassuring at a time of great uncertainty. I am delighted that my words struck a chord. But what is more important than my own satisfaction is the united front this small action represents. It got me thinking about why a few words about sticking together chimed with so many members.

We all know collaboration is key; it is a major part of our professional lives and, without it, we would not be able to do our day-to-day work. When environment and sustainability practitioners work collaboratively on a larger scale to tackle the big issues, we become more powerful.

Perhaps there is an emotional reassurance in sticking together in turbulent times like these. Standing united with people who think, work, believe and understand the world the way our profession does feels more than good – it feels right. It is in at least four tiers of Maslow’s hierarchy of needs, from the feeling of safety and security right up to self-actualisation.

It is the knowledge that you are standing up, with others, for something meaningful.

I write this on the day it was understood President Donald Trump was intending to pull the US out of the Paris climate agreement. If this has happened by the time you read this, the thoughts expressed in this column must turn into action very soon.

Simply, I want to say environment and sustainability professionals have some enormous, almost overwhelming, issues to fight for but we will be heard only if we all speak up together with one voice. So I hope I can count on you to work with IEMA in the year ahead, to contribute to events, policy consultations, polls, articles and projects that turn humble words into something relevant and significant.

It is more than our role; it is our duty.

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