Stepping up to the plate

1st February 2019

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Martin Baxter, IEMA Chief Policy Advisor.

Welcome to the first TRANSFORM of the new year. The year ahead promises to be one of significant challenges and opportunities for the profession.

The biggest challenge will be working through the UK's exit from the EU and ensuring that vital environmental and social policies and protections are retained. As a member of the Defra Legislative Sounding Board, which is providing pre-parliamentary scrutiny, oversight and advice on the transposition of EU law into UK law, it is striking how much time and effort is being given to maintaining, as far as possible, the status quo. So too with the initial draft Environment Bill, which, in large effect, is seeking to fill the environmental governance gap arising from Brexit.

“It seems we're at a tipping point, with the environment and sustainability becoming mainstream issues“

However, the opportunities could far outweigh the challenges, and IEMA's focus during the coming year will be capitalising on these opportunities. Our work as part of the Broadway Initiative sets out proposals for an ambitious, world-leading Environment Act that could have a transformative effect of truly integrating environmental systems thinking into our economic and social systems. From a high-level policy framework through to place-based decision-making, it is essential that we have clear and predictable expectations in place to give certainty for investors about what needs to be protected and improved. We're delighted that key business organisations such as FSB and CBI, together with environmental NGOs, professional bodies and leading academics, are supporting the proposals. We'll be engaging with members to ensure the profession plays a leading role as the government's proposals are finalised and the parliamentary process begins.

It seems we're at a tipping point, with the environment and sustainability becoming mainstream issues for the economy and society. The public is demanding action, and whether it's by cutting down on single-use plastic or moving towards plant-based diets, behaviour is changing.

As a profession, it's essential that we support organisations to move from being part of the problem to being integral in the development of sustainable solutions.


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