The profession must be the voice of reason amid misinformation.

I think it is safe to say that last year was eventful, and 2017 shows no signs of being any different. It would be easy to go into this year thinking it could be a year of difficulty, but I think it is a year of opportunity for us all to get together, speak up and make our mark.

There are some big challenges looming on the horizon – politically and socially – and the environment and sustainability profession will have a lot to keep up with. Dealing with the legislative changes associated with the UK’s departure from the European Union and challenging new US president Donald Trump on his stance on environment and climate change will give the profession the chance to raise our game and our voice.

Of course, we would rather that we did not have such massive issues to tackle; we all have enough to do with our day-to-day jobs as it is. But when our beliefs, passions and livelihoods are threatened we must stand up and shout loud about what is true, not what is convenient or easy to understand. There will be a lot of misinformation, confusion and cynicism floating around during this period of change and I feel it is our job as a profession to be the voice of reason and to fight for what is right.

We must take hold of the agenda on anything concerning environment and sustainability, and take it away from the naysayers; those who either do not fully understand the impact of inaction or deny the fundamental facts about our changing climate and diminishing resources. How do we do that? It is easy for me to yell a rallying call but it does not mean much without collaboration and action.

In practice, it means we must all work together more than ever. This year, our networks will produce guidance that will help us traverse some tricky issues. Our regions will pull members together to tackle local issues and give their perspective on global impacts. We will introduce new methods to help you connect and collaborate with other members. You will also have better ways of tracking your own learning and development so you have the confidence and credibility to make changes in your own organisation and community.

Let us make this the year of opportunity by working together on our shared and individual goals. IEMA will be with you all the way.