Words with...Peter Watts

Author of IEMA’s new Environmental Sustainability Skills for the Workforce courses.

The Environmental Sustainability Skills for the Workforce courses update IEMA’s All Jobs Greener training scheme – so what are the biggest changes?

There has been great progress made globally with regards to sustainability issues since the original courses were released, including the Sustainable Development Goals and the signing of the Paris Agreement. I thought these were important to include in the training due to their consequences for many organisations and society at large.

I also wanted to better reflect the relationship between environmental issues and their links with people and economy – a more joined-up approach. I wanted there to be more content in general, as well as flexibility in how it can be delivered.


There are versions for workforce and management grades – what are the biggest differences between the two?

There is commonality up to a point – the first day of the managers’ training is the same as the one-day workplace training – so people on both of these courses will learn about key environmental issues, their linked risks and opportunities and proposing improvements for their organisations. It is designed to inspire and engage all of the workforce in sustainability issues. The Environmental Sustainability Skills for Managers course goes on to take a more strategic view, assuming delegates are likely to have more influence on their organisations’ sustainability direction. It includes advice on communication and change management.


What would you say are the most immediate benefits that learners and their organisations can take away from these courses?

Having delivered a lot of this type of training in the past, I think one of the biggest immediate benefits is empowerment. 

"Sustainability issues can sometimes make people feel a little powerless, and good training can show people how they can make changes in their organisations."

The training also contains messages and useful statistics that can help with communicating sustainability issues to their colleagues.


The new suite has been designed to be easy to tailor for sectors and organisations. How have you been able to do that?

We made this a priority from the start because we knew this type of training would frequently be delivered in house. The trainers are free to add information that is specific to their organisation, and there are also a range of case studies that trainers can choose as appropriate. In my experience, delegates often find interest and inspiration in seeing what organisations in other sectors are doing.


As a trainer yourself, what do you most enjoy about training non-specialists in sustainability principles?

I think a lot of people I work with on  this type of training are surprised by the breadth of the subject, and often get a lot more out of it than they expected to, such as being able to join the dots between what their organisation is doing and the wider picture. As a trainer, the most satisfying reward is where somebody has enjoyed your course and is going to be able to use it practically in their work.


Go to iema.net/training to find out about these courses and find a training provider near you.

Peter Watts is principal consultant of Watts Sustainability Ltd


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