CEO Sarah Mukherjee MBE writes about IEMA's desire to get green skills and training on the final cover text of the COP28 negotiations in the United Arab Emirates at the end of 2023.
Photo by Los Muertos Crew

Later this year, representatives from nations across the planet will be gathering in the United Arab Emirates to consider the next stage in the global journey to a low-carbon economy. COP28 will be held in a year which has already seen record-breaking temperatures across Europe and Southeast Asia, with the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, the IPCC, recently and urgently reminding decision-makers that time was running out to make a difference in terms of reducing greenhouse gases.

Living a lower carbon life is sometimes difficult and complex, and I have personal experience of speaking with people from disadvantaged or minoritised communities who feel that advice they receive from the media sometimes amounts to hectoring and, as one person put it to me, “a cult of denial”. But there is another way to view the transition to a low-carbon society, and that is through the prism of sustainable, high-value and skilled jobs that every country’s economy and infrastructure will need in order to make the shift; jobs that will bring economic value and prosperity to communities around the world.

We all know these jobs are vital. But there is often a lack of clarity, that amounts to magical thinking, when it comes to how these jobs are going be delivered. For example, we will need thousands more electric vehicle (EV) charging points if we are to encourage people to switch to EVs. These charging points will need to be installed by thousands of suitably qualified electricians. It will take time and resources to train them appropriately; currently, we are nowhere near training people in the right skills and at the right pace to meet our objectives.

Despite the fact that skills and training are critical to the net zero transition, despite the fact that businesses often put skills and training in their top three asks to government, the subject does not seem to be sufficiently sexy to be a priority for some policymakers. We at IEMA are therefore urging the delegates at COP28 to come together to ensure that the need for a rapid expansion of skills and training in sustainable practices and technologies is added to the final cover text of the meeting. This would give a clear signal to the planet’s businesses and industrial sectors that policymakers recognise that training and skills delivered at pace, will underpin the green revolution that results in the sustainable movement of goods and services globally.

This shift simply will not happen quickly enough unless we equip the global workforce with the skills and training necessary for it to happen. A clear declaration of intent at COP28 would be a great way to start.

Photo of Sarah mukherjee
Sarah Mukherjee MBE


Sarah Mukherjee MBE is the CEO of IEMA. Previously Sarah was the BBC’s Environment correspondent, presenting on national and international BBC radio and television, winning awards across the world. After leaving the corporation, she held leadership roles in various sectors including utilities and agriculture. Sarah was a panel member for the National Parks Review and the Glover Review and also sat on the National Food Strategy Advisory Panel. She is co-chair of the Natural England Landscape Advisory Panel as well as Non-executive Director on the Board of the Environment Agency. In 2021 Sarah was awarded an MBE for her services to agriculture and farmer well-being.

Since joining IEMA Sarah has been instrumental in implementing a Diverse Sustainability Initiative (DSI) strategy.

In her spare time, Sarah enjoys martial arts, has been a 'Campaign for Real Ale' judge, as well as a rugby reporter.


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