When it’s not just about winning...

The shortlist for IEMA’s Sustainability Impact Awards 2019 has been announced after an exciting day of judging. Chris Seekings reports on what to expect at the ceremony

The judges were blown away by the nearly 200 entries to IEMA’s inaugural Sustainability Impact Awards, proving that the sustainability profession is bursting with innovation and talent.

After gathering for a special shortlisting event in London, a total of 106 projects, companies and individuals were selected to go forward for a chance of glory at September’s ceremony.

There are 19 awards up for grabs, with the winners benefiting from a boosted profile, publicity, prestige, a competitive advantage, new business opportunities, greater support, and recognition of talent.

But these awards are also a celebration of everyone striving to meet IEMA’s global sustainability standards, and with environmental protections looking as vulnerable as ever, they could not come at a better time.

After mulling over the exceptional entries, IEMA’s new board chair, Paul Leinster CBE, said: “I have been in environmental management for more than 40 years, and the environment and sustainability have never been more important than they are now. These awards are about rewarding, celebrating and recognising the great work that is being done day-to-day.”

Companies from locations as far away as Qatar entered this year’s awards, while representatives from the NHS, HS2, National Grid and the Environment Agency were all on the judging panel.

From campaigns to eliminate plastic pollution, to working on massive construction projects spanning Reading to Shenfield, the award entries were a perfect example of the sheer range of expertise on offer from sustainability professionals.

IEMA CEO Tim Balcon said: “They have all just been superb, particularly at this time of climate volatility and environmental degradation. The UN has said we have 11 years to make a difference, so this is our opportunity to recognise and profile people with the skills to make the change needed.”

The individual awards celebrate the sustainability leaders making a real impact today, and those that are likely to deliver the greatest change in the future. 

However, the future sustainability leader category has been particularly hard to judge: “Just when you think you have got the winner, you then start judging the second applicant and the third, and you think ‘okay actually, hold on’,” said independent sustainability consultant, Kamran Shezad. “They have very different qualities, but they all show leadership and are pioneering and innovative, so it is very difficult to judge.”

All eyes will now turn to 20 September, when the winners will be announced at a lunchtime reception at The Brewery in London. Those in attendance will be treated to a drinks reception before a three-course meal made from locally sourced ingredients, followed by the awards ceremony itself and post-show networking. So are the judges looking forward to the big day? “You bet! I am so looking forward to it,” Shezad said.

“It’s important that we reward and recognise our future sustainability leaders, to say: ‘You can do it, it is achievable, and we are all in this together as we work towards a sustainable future’.”

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