Ten actions a new government should introduce on sustainability have been revealed by the Institute of Environmental Management & Assessment (IEMA).
Over the period of the general election, IEMA has conducted a series of five polls of its 15,000 members, and a top ten of priorities has come out of that exercise.
The poll found that most of its members are unhappy that the environment wasn’t a priority issue during the election.
1) Environment and sustainability should have greater prominence across the next Government’s thinking and action – 89% of those polled were unhappy with the lack of focus on environment in the run up to the general election.
2) Energy conservation should be a top priority for the new Government to take leadership on – 72% of environment and sustainability professionals say that energy conservation and efficient use of materials is the area for future energy investment, presenting a key business opportunity for UK businesses.
3) Creating the workforce for a sustainable economy – 96% of those polled said the next Government should set up a cross-sector sustainability skills strategy to enable UK plc to compete on a global stage on sustainability. STEM skills should incorporate sustainability, and sustainability should be a vital part of national curriculum and lifelong learning programmes.
4) Implement a Nature & Wellbeing Act – 89% of IEMA members say that the swift introduction of a new Nature and Wellbeing Act is needed to improve and reverse the UK’s current rate of loss of biodiversity and natural habitats.
5) Resolving the UK’s poor air quality is a critical priority for the next Government – Making significant progress on improvements to air quality will benefit the environment as well as human health and well-being, as poor air quality is currently linked to 29,000 premature deaths each year. 89% of those polled supported this.
6) Next Government should deliver a “Stern for Resources” style report to make an economic case for resource management – 80% polled supported this.
7) Strengthen International Leadership on Climate Change – 91% polled say incoming Government should prioritise commitment to tackling climate risks.
8) Prioritising national needs over local concerns will be necessary to deliver the infrastructure critical to the UK’s transition to a sustainable economy – 75% say the UK Planning System is not currently capable of playing its part in the transition to a sustainable economy.
9) Government’s Green Investment Bank should have a greater role in taking forward nationally significant infrastructure – 92% said that they want to see the role of the Green Investment Bank increased so that it has powers to appropriately borrow and invest in projects that both protect and improve the UK’s natural capital.
10) Call for an independent body to scrutinise the Government’s progress on sustainability, similar to the existing Committee on Climate Change Committee, but with a significantly broader scope – 89% supported this.
IEMA chief policy advisor Martin Baxter said: “With almost 90% of our members expressing concern at the lack of priority placed upon environment and sustainability issues in the run up to the election, it is vital that the new government realises the importance that environment and sustainability issues have to play, not only in ensuring that UK business can compete on the global stage, but also protects and delivers a sustainable future.
“These top ten actions should be placed at the heart of the new government’s thinking and action.”