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IEMA Announce Sustainability Support for Members



The IEMA is focusing on sustainability performance on an international scale by providing new levels of support and recognition to its members. Workers with relevant jobs will be equipped with the necessary environment and sustainability skills. The announcement comes as the need to tackle growing global environmental problems becomes ever more present.

For the first time IEMA has formally embedded sustainability principles – such as human rights, poverty issues and education – into each of its globally recognised professional standards. To ensure IEMA members have a clear and continual career path that is navigated with manageable steps rather than huge strides, the body has launched an entirely new membership level – Practitioner – and has updated its ground-breaking skills map to become an interactive competency development tool that has value for individuals and employers seeking to upskill their organisation.

The relevancy and attractiveness of membership has also been broadened to benefit those currently outside of the environment and sustainability profession.  From students who recognise that sustainability will become a key part of any future role, to CEOs who know their organisation must upskill to survive, becoming a part of the alliance of professionals means new opportunities to learn, contribute and connect.

Tim Balcon, CEO of IEMA, says that mobilising those with environment and sustainability skills is critical to the future survival of business. He said: “The fact that the world is changing is undeniable. Businesses everywhere are having to adapt to secure their own survival. Arming themselves with the right sustainability skills across their operations is the only viable way to go. In order to support organisations everywhere to survive and remain future-proof, IEMA has changed. We are leading the profession and we supply the right skills to business.”

The Journey

Professional bodies typically adopt a traditional “ladder” or hierarchical approach to its memberships. IEMA is abandoning this approach in favour or a constantly moving journey that involves continual learning, development and collaboration towards the next steps. Where there had previously been a perceived gulf in the levels of experience and skill demonstrated at the practical and compliance Associate stage of a professionals’ career and the managerial Full membership level, the new and industry demanded Practitioner grade bridges the gap.

Feedback from a number of employers clearly indicated that the language of “Practitioner” completely appeals to them as the name correctly captures the desired level of competency and experience such a mid-career professional will bring to their business. Demonstrated by the brand new PIEMA suffix, this career stage is pitched as the benchmark for environment and sustainability professionals with sleeves rolled up; membership for the working experts who are driving change.

Further to the new membership grade, IEMA is recognising the years of learning and career trajectory of Graduates. For the first time this early career membership grade is being awarded formal professional recognition with the GradIEMA suffix.

Skills to Tackle the Perfect Storm

The new membership journey was inspired by a 2013 consultation with Environment & Sustainability Professionals and industry stakeholders. Feedback suggested IEMA needed to change its membership structure from a traditional hierarchy to an innovative membership journey with wide appeal and relevancy. This push was offered by stakeholders in recognition of the shifting nature of the profession, changing threats facing businesses worldwide and the absolute necessity for all jobs to be done in a more sustainable way.

IEMA’s two “Perfect Storm” reports from 2014 and 2016 outline and update on the global sustainability megatrends that are bearing down on businesses and forcing organisations to radically upskill with the right environment and sustainability competencies. Depleted resources, volatile energy costs, increasing climate change threats, population growth, issues around ethical sourcing, and equality issues all threaten the future sustainability and prosperity of business. Skilled and experienced Environment and Sustainability professionals are crucial for all organisations to meet these 21st Century challenges and prosper in spite of them.

CEO Tim Balcon explains that this new look IEMA has been shaped by the profession it serves. He said: “The passion and dedication shown by IEMA’s members for their work and the wider impacts of what they can achieve is completely inspiring. Three years ago members told me they needed IEMA to change to be bolder, ultra-relevant and provide the right momentum for the profession. We listened and have spent the time since reshaping what we do to meet those very valid demands.

We’re ready to reveal what the changes look like, and I can’t wait to see the impact of what this profession has sparked.”

To find out more about the new membership journey and to tour the new interactive skills map, visit the new look