Members make strong recommendations on priorities
IEMA has today launched a Top Ten Sustainability Actions for the new Government in response to growing professional concern around the lack of focus that has placed on environment and sustainability in the run up tomorrow’s General Election.
IEMA conducted a series of five polls with Members to develop this action plan. One of the key actions is to make significant progress on improving the UK’s poor air quality during the next parliament. Almost 9 in 10 of IEMA’s respondents say that this is a critical priority for the next Government. Making significant progress on improvements to air quality will benefit the environment as well as human health and wellbeing, as poor air quality is currently linked to 29,000 premature deaths each year. This statistic backs the recent ruling by the Supreme Court that the UK must cut its air pollution levels.
The professionals polled are also calling for the new Government to make energy conservation and efficient use of materials a top priority. Energy conservation and efficiency is a key area for future energy investment, enabling returns of up to and over a million pounds on investment and presenting a key business opportunity for UK businesses.
Members also said that in order to drive environmental achievements, the creation of a sustainable workforce is vital. 96% of those surveyed said that the next Government should establish a cross-sector sustainability skills strategy to enable the UK to transition to a sustainable economy. 87% say STEM skills should be extended to incorporate Sustainability (becoming STEMS), and sustainability should be a vital part of national curriculum and part of lifelong learning.
“With almost 90% of our members expressing concern at the lack of priority placed upon environment and sustainability issues in the run up to the election, it is vital that the new Government realises the importance that environment and sustainability issues have to play, not only in ensuring that UK business can compete on the global stage, but also protects and delivers a sustainable future. These Top Ten Actions should be placed at the heart of the new Government’s thinking and action.” said Martin Baxter, IEMA’s Chief Policy Advisor.
Top Ten Sustainability Actions for New Government
A series of polls were conducted amongst IEMA’s 15,000 members in the 12 weeks leading up to the General Election to get their opinions on what the next Government should focus on. A total of 2846 responses were received across the five polls - each of which was open for just four working days - to get a snapshot of the environment and sustainability profession’s views on issues that will be key to the UK’s future prosperity.
1) Environment and sustainability should have greater prominence across the next Government’s thinking and action - 89% of those polled were unhappy with the lack of focus on environment in the run up to the general election.
2) Energy conservation should be a top priority for the new Government to take leadership on - 72% of environment and sustainability professionals say that energy conservation and efficient use of materials is the area for future energy investment, presenting a key business opportunity for UK businesses.
3) Creating the workforce for a sustainable economy - 96% of those polled said the next Government should set up a cross-sector sustainability skills strategy to enable UK plc to compete on a global stage on sustainability. STEM skills should incorporate sustainability, and sustainability should be a vital part of national curriculum and lifelong learning programmes.
4) Implement a Nature & Wellbeing Act - 89% of IEMA members say that the swift introduction of a new Nature and Wellbeing Act is needed to improve and reverse the UK’s current rate of loss of biodiversity and natural habitats.
5) Resolving the UK’s poor air quality is a critical priority for the next Government - Making significant progress on improvements to air quality will benefit the environment as well as human health and well-being, as poor air quality is currently linked to 29,000 premature deaths each year. 89% of those polled supported this.
6) Next Government should deliver a “Stern for Resources” style report to make an economic case for resource management - 80% polled supported this.
7) Strengthen International Leadership on Climate Change - 91% polled say incoming Government should prioritise commitment to tackling climate risks.
8) Prioritising national needs over local concerns will be necessary to deliver the infrastructure critical to the UK’s transition to a sustainable economy - 75% say the UK Planning System is not currently capable of playing its part in the transition to a sustainable economy.
9) Government’s Green Investment Bank should have a greater role in taking forward nationally significant infrastructure - 92% said that they want to see the role of the Green Investment Bank increased so that it has powers to appropriately borrow and invest in projects that both protect and improve the UK’s natural capital.
10) Call for an independent body to scrutinise the Government’s progress on sustainability, similar to the existing Committee on Climate Change Committee, but with a significantly broader scope – 89% supported this.