I wrote yesterday about the problems of identifying 'sustainability skills'. I noted that the world is full of people with so-called sustainability skills such as 'critical thinking' but that many such skills are purpose and value-neutral. It all depends on how they are used in the world.
It was good to see, therefore, that IMEA has done its own critical thinking about all this and come up with a skill set that is reasonably focused. An IEMA survey of over 900 organisations indicates that only 13% of companies are fully confident that they have the skills to successfully compete in the sustainable economy. Tim Balcon, CEO of IMEA noted:
In the new business world, environment and sustainability can no longer be a bolt on, it needs to be part of businesses’ DNA. IEMA is launching its campaign “Preparing for the Perfecting Storm – Skills for a Sustainable Economy” to shine a light on this issue and catalyse action to address the skills deficit. Businesses need to urgently turn what is a growing and prevailing list of challenges into opportunities. The most effective way of grasping this opportunity is by ensuring that all businesses have access to a new set of skills – environment and sustainability – to ensure that UK plc and businesses globally can transition and survive in this new economy,”
Peefect Storm provides some informative case studies. IEMA’s skills framework includes the following:
- Skills for leaders to be able to integrate sustainability into long-term decision making
- Enhanced skills and capability of environment and sustainability professionals so they can embed sustainability throughout the organisation and its value chain, e.g. foresight and horizon scanning, building the business case
- Increasing environment and sustainability knowledge and understanding of all other workers, so they can play their full role.
Whilst this is a good start, they are only headings. What is the detail, I wondered. There are certainly 'skills' exemplified in the case studies that are set out, but there isn't a list of them anywhere – as far as I could see. Maybe there isn't a list. Maybe the idea of a list is nonsense. Perhaps, we're seduced by lists into thinking them necessary? Maybe it's all contextual, contingent and conditional – like life in many respects.
To be continued ...