Training focus: Charting a new course

6th December 2012


Related Topics

Related tags

  • Skills ,
  • Training ,
  • CPD ,
  • Qualifications



Paul Suff reports on the forthcoming changes to the chartered environmentalist qualification

Revised competencies and new eligibility criteria will be introduced for the chartered environmentalist (CEnv) qualification from March 2013. The assessment process, however, remains largely unaltered and will continue to be a face-to-face peer-review interview.

The changes follow an assessment by the Society for the Environment (SocEnv), the body that oversees the awarding of CEnv status, and are the first major amendments since chartered designation was introduced for environmental practitioners in 2004.

SocEnv says the changes will mean CEnv remains relevant and fit for purpose in a rapidly changing environment and ensure the process complies with UK equality laws.

David Lloyd-Roach, who led the review of the CEnv practice direction and is the chair of SocEnv’s registration authority, explains: “We started the review in 2009. It focused mainly on three things: clarifying the routes to achieving CEnv, testing how robust the qualification is compared with the chartered engineer and chartered scientist designations, and overcoming potential problems with forthcoming age discrimination legislation.”

IEMA is one of 23 organisations licensed by SocEnv to award CEnv status, and the Institute’s professional standards manager, Claire Kirk, regards the revision as a positive move. “Overall, IEMA supports the changes. The competencies are now more solidly environmental. That is a real plus,” she says.

Eligible professionals

As with the previous version, prospective CEnvs from March 2013 must be member of a professional body licensed to award the designation, such as IEMA (which requires applicants to be Full members).

Adhering to both SocEnv’s code of ethics and the continuing professional development requirements specified by their licensed body also remain part of the eligibility criteria. IEMA’s code of practice, for example, states that members develop and maintain standards of professional competence and knowledge through a combination of training, learning and practical experience, and through the support of others.

New eligibility measures differing from the existing standards have been introduced. Under the revision, the previous “points” system – whereby candidates must accrue at least 12 points based on their academic achievements and experience – no longer applies. The removal of the points-based requirement obviates any potential age-discrimination problem under the Equality Act 2010.

“The points system was basically a time-based mechanism of academic study and experience and it could potentially have been challenged in law,” says Lloyd-Roach. “It was also limiting who could apply as you had to clock up sufficient points.”

Instead, future candidates are expected to possess a relevant master’s degree or equivalent level of knowledge. It does not mean that candidates necessarily have to have a master’s qualification – although more than 44% of IEMA members responding to its 2012 practitioners’ survey do so.

Candidates who can demonstrate learning in the workplace that is equivalent to a master’s level are also eligible. Responsibility for determining what constitutes relevant academic qualifications, knowledge and workplace experience remains with the licensing bodies, but it should align with new competencies (see group A and B, below).

Generally, candidates are expected to have at least four years’ full-time practical experience in a relevant work environment. SocEnv leaves what qualifies as “relevant” up to each licensing body.

Kirk welcomes the demand for a master’s or equivalent knowledge, believing it links well with the managerial competencies in the IEMA skills map: “There are definitely synergies between the CEnv competencies and the communication, leadership and sustainability practice competencies in the environmental skills map.”

Kirk does, however, acknowledge that assessing eligibility will be less straightforward in some cases. “If a candidate has a master’s degree or an equivalent qualification and at least four years’ experience, then fine. If not, they’ll need to demonstrate they have sufficient knowledge and understanding at that level.”

IEMA is likely to adopt the same approach for CEnv applications from individuals without a master’s qualification as it does for non-Associates applying for Full membership, confirms Kirk. In such circumstances, non-Associates are allowed a higher word count in their submission documents so they can provide a comprehensive picture of their background.

In addition to being able to demonstrate sufficient environmental knowledge, CEnv candidates from March must also show how they apply it in practice. This information will be included in the application form and written evidence that all potential CEnvs must submit to their licensed body. SocEnv says this will generally include examples and will be cross-referenced to a comprehensive CV. All written evidence has to be validated by at least two mentors, sponsors or supervisors, who should, ideally, also be CEnvs.

Licensed bodies can largely decide the format of the written application requirements for members. Currently, IEMA members must submit a 6,000-word report plus supporting materials. Kirk says in future the length of the report will be shorter.

A competent future

Currently, the CEnv qualification requires the demonstration of competencies under the following five broad headings:

A – use knowledge and understanding of the environment to further the aims of sustainable development.

B – analyse and evaluate problems from an environmental perspective, and develop practical sustainable solutions.

C – leadership in sustainable management of the environment.

D – demonstrate effective interpersonal skills.

E – demonstrate a personal commitment to professional standards, recognising obligations to society, the profession and the environment.

In March several changes will take place to the competencies with the aim of providing greater clarity over what each competency is seeking to test and to remove unnecessary duplication. It also seeks to strengthen environmental skills. The main change between the existing and new criterion is that the “old” broad A and B sections are combined into one area focusing on the application of knowledge. This means the new approach contains four broad categories of competence:

A – applying knowledge and understanding of the environment to further the aims of sustainability.

B – leading sustainable management of the environment.

C – demonstrating effective communication and interpersonal skills.

D – personal commitment to professional standards, recognising obligations to society, the profession and the environment.

Like the original, the revised categories each include two or more key competencies. In the new version these total 12 rather than 13. Lloyd-Roach says the wording of the revised competencies has been pitched at a comparable level to those required to achieve either the chartered engineer or chartered scientist status, and which are linked to a master’s level qualification.

CEnv candidates will be required to provide written evidence that their achievements in all 12 are in line with the requirements of the licensed bodies, such as IEMA.

The existing A3 – “explain the critical importance of maintaining and enhancing natural cycles and biodiversity in achieving sustainability” – is changing so there is a common requirement across all the professional bodies awarding the CEnv qualification. The “new” A3 requires candidates to: analyse and evaluate problems from an environmental perspective, develop practical sustainable solutions and anticipate environmental trends to develop practical solutions.

The wording of most of the other competencies has also changed to reflect new realities. So, for example, “develop effective means with which to liaise with and advise others” in the effective communication and interpersonal skills group becomes: “ability to liaise with, negotiate with, handle conflict and advise others, in individual and/or group environments – either as a leader or member.”

Similarly, under the personal commitment to professional standards grouping (which will in future contain four rather than two key competencies), candidates must show how they encourage others to promote and advance a sustainable and resilient approach by understanding their responsibility for environmental damage and improvement. Currently, they have to ensure individuals and organisations are accountable and understand their responsibility for environmental damage and improvement.

Lloyd-Roach says making the wording of the competencies less generic and more clearly linked to the environment was a deliberate strategy.

More the better

Lloyd-Roach describes the changes as a natural evolution and is keen to point out that the new approach does not devalue existing CEnvs. “They should look at the revised approach and see if they need to devote any of their continuing professional development [CPD] efforts to updating their competence,” he advises.

Kirk agrees. “Although the changes will not impact on any IEMA members who already hold CEnv status, the new competencies should help existing CEnvs direct their CPD activities.”

Since 2004, the SocEnv reports that more than 7,000 environment practitioners worldwide have become chartered environmentalists. And IEMA confirms that, by September 2012, 684 members held CEnv status. And there is evidence that more IEMA members are keen to upgrade their membership. A recent survey found that 28% plan to upgrade their membership level, including 6% who want to attain CEnvs status.

The benefits of achieving CEnv are clear. Kirk says the CEnv qualification demonstrates leadership in the environmental profession, and competence equivalent to other professionals, such as chartered engineers. Full and CEnv IEMA members also tend to benefit financially. The 2012 IEMA pay and benefits survey shows that Full members earn around £45,250 a year, significantly more than either Affiliate (£34,793) or Associate (£35,000) members.

Kirk is also keen to highlight why environment professionals should achieve CEnv status through IEMA. “Our members guide and lead the changes that will be required for a sustainable future as they work at the interface between organisations and the environment.”

In preparation for the change in March, from 1 January 2013 IEMA will only accept CEnv applications that meet the revised competency and eligibility criteria.

Kirk says that anyone wanting to apply from the start of 2013 should review themselves against the revised CEnv competencies.


Subscribe to IEMA's newsletters to receive timely articles, expert opinions, event announcements, and much more, directly in your inbox.

Transform articles

Career profile: Kimberley Lasi, CEnv, MIEMA

Senior consultant, EcoAct

3rd April 2024

Read more

At a School of Management careers event at Cranfield University, one of our IEMA-approved university partners, we spoke to students from a range of postgraduate courses, from supply chain to marketing and management.

28th March 2024

Read more

To make real change on sustainability, it’s time to redefine leadership models, writes Chris Seekings

1st February 2024

Read more

Caris Graham (she/her) is Diverse Sustainability Initiative officer at IEMA

1st February 2024

Read more

Lisa Pool reflects on the highlights of the past year and what they mean for the future

1st February 2024

Read more

The percentage of women working in the built environment sector rose significantly last year although people from ethnic minorities find it up to six times harder to be recruited, according to a major survey.

17th January 2024

Read more

Media enquires

Looking for an expert to speak at an event or comment on an item in the news?

Find an expert

IEMA Cookie Notice

Clicking the ‘Accept all’ button means you are accepting analytics and third-party cookies. Our website uses necessary cookies which are required in order to make our website work. In addition to these, we use analytics and third-party cookies to optimise site functionality and give you the best possible experience. To control which cookies are set, click ‘Settings’. To learn more about cookies, how we use them on our website and how to change your cookie settings please view our cookie policy.

Manage cookie settings

Our use of cookies

You can learn more detailed information in our cookie policy.

Some cookies are essential, but non-essential cookies help us to improve the experience on our site by providing insights into how the site is being used. To maintain privacy management, this relies on cookie identifiers. Resetting or deleting your browser cookies will reset these preferences.

Essential cookies

These are cookies that are required for the operation of our website. They include, for example, cookies that enable you to log into secure areas of our website.

Analytics cookies

These cookies allow us to recognise and count the number of visitors to our website and to see how visitors move around our website when they are using it. This helps us to improve the way our website works.

Advertising cookies

These cookies allow us to tailor advertising to you based on your interests. If you do not accept these cookies, you will still see adverts, but these will be more generic.

Save and close