Working to shape the future

12th March 2012

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How IEMA is taking action to ensure members' views influence the direction of future environmental policy and legislation

IEMA’s engagement in national government and wider policy development involves and affects all members, as well as the environment profession as a whole. That involvement includes responding to consultations, attendance at research workshops and direct input – by providing expert knowledge and feedback from the profession – to help fashion new government policies and legislation. A recent example of this was IEMA’s input into the consultation on mandatory greenhouse-gas reporting.

To ensure that IEMA focuses on areas that are of most relevance to members, the Institute’s horizon scanning and policy work is being managed by a central policy and practice team – Martin Baxter (executive director, policy), Josh Fothergill and Nick Blyth (policy and practice leads). The team’s role is to ensure that IEMA – and its members – has input into key environmental and sustainability policy developments.

Working with members, practitioners and wider stakeholders, the team’s priorities are as follows:

  • Horizon scanning – identifying forthcoming developments related to the fields of environment and sustainability professional practice, assessing their relevance to members and highlighting key issues.
  • Policy activity – ensuring that IEMA actively participates in key policy developments that will influence the future progress of the environment profession, and that members are aware of, and contributing to, such developments.

The team’s work will focus on developments that affect the environment profession and its capacity to achieve change, rather than directly on environmental issues. IEMA’s policy activity is structured around the eight horizons set out in the following panels.

Member involvement in relation to IEMA’s policy work has already started, with more than 400 taking part in the ISO 14001 workshops earlier this year. Further opportunities for members to engage in the policy activities areas described below will continue throughout 2012.

Skills and the green economy

IEMA aims to ensure the government recognises the crucial role environment skills, knowledge and competence play in enabling improved environmental performance and economic ambitions relating to growth centred on greening the economy. IEMA will act to advance the profile of the environment skills agenda through promotion of the environment skills map – which will continue to evolve – across the whole range of government policy activities.

Leadership and accountability

Policy activity in this area focuses on corporate governance and initiatives aimed at driving leadership, assurance, accountability and disclosure related to the consideration of the environment in organisational strategy and by those with executive duties. Work in 2012 will centre on helping to shape the implementation of the government’s forthcoming decision on mandatory greenhouse-gas reporting and contributing to new developments in broader environmental reporting by organisations.

Impact assessment

A long-standing action area for IEMA and one that continues to play a key role. The horizon has a broader focus than just EIA and SEA, including policy-related impact assessment, work focusing on the Habitats Directive and wider activities to facilitate better environmental decision making. Policy in this area during 2012 will focus on activities that will influence the key tools used by IEMA members, with the European Commission’s review of the EIA Directive a key focus.

Management, auditing, regulation and compliance

Another traditional area for IEMA activity is environment management, auditing, regulation and compliance, and the practical tools used by environment professionals to manage the environment on a daily basis in business operations. Activity in this area in 2012 will relate to the review of the ISO 14001 management systems standard and the development of tools related to reducing the environmental impact of products. Progress of the government’s ongoing Red Tape Challenge is also being tracked.

Climate change and energy

In 2012, IEMA’s policy activities will include: input into DECC’s simplification of the Carbon Reduction Commitment Energy Efficiency scheme; contributing to the development of the first national climate change adaptation programme; and working with the government once a decision is made on progressing mandatory greenhouse-gas reporting by organisations. It will also include action on the issues identified in IEMA’s climate change position statement .

Ecosystems services and biodiversity

Following the publication of last year’s national environment white paper, action in this area in 2012 will involve working to influence greater potential benefit from policies designed to offset carbon or biodiversity effects and build greater understanding of member knowledge and action in this area. It will also explore existing member understanding and activity related to recognising the value of nature and placing a financial value upon it.

Resources – materials, waste and water

The first half of the year will be dominated by developing IEMA’s response to the European Commission consultation on revisions to the sustainable consumption and production action plan, which is a key aspect of its objectives for a resource-efficient Europe, and by raising awareness of issues set out in Defra’s forthcoming resource security action plan (RSAP). IEMA has already been active in helping the environment department develop the RSAP.

Pollution – air, water, soil and nuisance

Prevention and control of pollution (air, land and water) is the most regulated of the four key environmental topics included in the horizon scanning process. Work in 2012 will ensure that IEMA keeps its members informed of developing areas in this field, particularly related to potential changes arising from the government’s Red Tape Challenge, the results of which are due to become clear from the end of March, along with wider developments.


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