No Company Can Afford to Ignore the Environmental Challenge

The Independent (London, England), November 13, 2008 | Go to article overview
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No Company Can Afford to Ignore the Environmental Challenge


The emergence of a new environmental management profession offers exciting opportunities for those wishing to develop a career where they can make a real difference to the environment. No longer is working as an environmental professional just about taking water or air samples, recording species and habitats as part of ecological surveys, or dealing with neighbours about noise issues.

Environment and sustainability have quickly risen up the political and business agendas and are becoming integral to the way we shape society. Government commitments to an 80 per cent reduction in UK greenhouse gas emissions by 2050, together with ever decreasing levels of non-renewable natural resources, are real challenges that all parts of the economy will need to address. Environmental management professionals are helping to shape the response; not simply by ensuring compliance with the ever- increasing number of environmental laws and regulations, but by helping companies to understand the environmental impacts of their products and supply chains, and developing solutions to reduce them.

With rising disposal costs being used as a fiscal incentive to reduce waste, and concerns over security of supply and long-term rising wholesale energy prices - good environmental management is an essential factor in helping companies to increase productivity and improve competitiveness.

In addition, as the effects of climate change become ever more apparent, the need for companies to plan how they will respond to a changing environment becomes more and more compelling: how to build in climate change resilience to new capital expenditure programmes; understanding the vulnerability of the supply chain to extreme weather events such as flooding (how will you ensure vital components reach your assembly plants when you operate "just in time" stock levels?); how will water shortages affect the ability to grow crops to support food production; will the company's products still be relevant to consumers if winters become warmer and wetter, summers hotter and drier? There are very real challenges and opportunities that require skilled professionals to help develop practical solutions.

So what are the key attributes of a successful environmental management professional? Knowledge and understanding of underpinning environmental processes and natural cycles, and the way that businesses and society impact on them, provide a solid foundation for identifying what action can be taken to make improvements.

Many universities offer undergraduate and post-graduate degree courses which help people to develop the underpinning knowledge; alternatively, shorter training programmes such as the Institute of Environmental Management and Assessment's (IEMA) Associate Certificate approved courses and vocational routes are designed to provide the core knowledge.

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No Company Can Afford to Ignore the Environmental Challenge


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