IEMA CEO Sarah Mukherjee MBE reports from the G7 Summit in Rome, Italy.

In some cities, you really notice when a big international event like the G7 arrives. But when you are in the city that once sat at the heart of an Empire stretching from Hadrian’s Wall to the Persian Gulf - well, it’s pretty clear that when you’re in Rome, you do as the Romans. After just a day, the sharply suited policy types having hushed conversations around their laptops are taking off their jackets, meeting over a long lunch instead of a speedy coffee and shrugging their shoulders when, once again, getting from one part of this traffic-clogged city to the another takes twice as long as you expect, under unseasonably stormy skies.

I am honoured to be here, taking part in a panel discussion with colleagues from all G7 countries on standards and sustainability. During their Presidency this year, Italian government Ministers intend to relaunch the international community’s commitment to energy transition and climate change, which, Italian decision-makers say, are crucial for the achievement of the Sustainable Development Goals.

The topic may sometimes seem rather academic, but the creation and implementation of appropriate standards is fundamental to these goals, as well as a just transition. IEMA members in the global South have often referred to governance being a key barrier to achieving sustainability goals; robustly applied standards ensure that everyone is held to account similarly. For this reason, standards are vital to driving skills and training. A common, internationally agreed standard means students, wherever they are in the world and whatever their heritage or community background can work to develop skills at a common level of understanding.

However, we need to be clear that technical standards are only as good as the ability of businesses, systems and ultimately people to implement them. Ensuring there is clear guidance, dialogue and capacity building between those who are developing standards and those who are then using them is incredibly important. Standards development should also integrate requirements on specific and relevant standards into procurement practices, and those developing and applying standards should ensure that they prioritise collaborative behaviours throughout supply chains, which move beyond conventional and transactional relationships and into sustainable partnerships.

The Romans adapted and developed comprehensive standards for a wide variety of units of measurement. Some still have their echoes in units we use today, such as the mile, the foot and the quart. This standardisation enabled people to travel, trade and build effectively across the Roman Empire. Rome is an appropriate place for my discussions with colleagues from around the world on this fundamentally important subject.

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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