Further and Faster Agreement November 2019

The climate emergency and ecological crisis require urgent action by all organisations, especially those in the sustainability sector. This agreement forms a statement of intent for targeted collaborative action between SOS-UK and IEMA. It outlines the priority challenges we intend to substantively progress over the next three years in response to the environmental emergency. 

1.0 Diversity in the sustainability sector

In 2018 IEMA and NUS collaborated on a research project that quantified the lack of diversity in the sustainability sector. Our research found that the average percentage of VME (visible minority ethnic) staff and trustees in the UK’s leading environmental charities and agencies was 3.1% compared to 19.9% of the general public. This builds on the findings of the Policy Exchange report in 2017, which found that environmental sector was the second least diverse sector in the UK, after farming. As well as ethnicity, the sector has a problem with gender balance in senior roles and is also underrepresented by people who are differently-abled. 

Progress to date:

  • 2018/19 research and House of Lords sector roundtable
  • One of the three workstreams of SOS-UK

Our plan:

  • Reconvene key sector individuals and organisations in the first half of 2020 and develop a sector-wide statement of intent
  • Follow-up diversity research and report 2020
  • Secure major funding for sector-wide action-based programme

2.0 Getting sustainability out of subject silos

Secondary schools routinely compartmentalise sustainability into geography and science, presenting it as a subject. Universities often teach sustainability as a bolt-on through separate modules. We should be teaching students that sustainability is fundamental to everything we learn and that, when it comes to climate change and the ecological crisis, everything is connected. We need to liberate sustainability out of its subject silos and weave it through all disciplines, like a golden thread. Sustainability should be framed in the same way as equality is, in that it is a right and a learning entitlement

Progress to date:

  • NUS IEMA-accredited training for Green Impact auditors (800 college and university students per year from all different disciplines)
  • NUS and UKSCN launched Teach the Future supported by IEMA 

Our plan

  • Secure official review of education system through Teach the Future
  • Run a high-level event for professional bodies across all disciplines in 2020 and develop a sector-wide statement of intent
  • Develop impactful resources for professional bodies to embed sustainability into the curriculums they accredit
  • Carry out primary research into how college and university courses are embedding sustainability and publish it in 2021

Zamzam Ibrahim- President, SOS-UK

Toby Robins- Interim CEO, IEMA


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