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IEMA Environmental Sustainability Skills for Managers

The IEMA Environmental Sustainability Skills for Managers course gives Managers and Supervisors an understanding of the strategic implications of sustainability, and the steps they can take to help improve performance amongst their team and workplace.

The course covers key environmental sustainability management areas including legislation, strategic opportunities and constraints, resource efficiency, sustainability across the value chaing, and change management.

Learning Outcomes

On completion of the course, learner's will be able to:

  • Understand the main environmental and economic risks and opportunities
  • Understnd the compliance obligations and business drivers for change
  • Understand the main potential impacts on environment and sustainability
  • Understand how to improve environmental performance
  • Evaluate drivers for change and barriers
  • Apply knowledge to baselines data to monitor and improve performance
  • Apply knowledge of environmental sustainability across the value chain
  • Demonstrate the importance of implementing resource efficiency
  • Demonstrate how employees can improve environmental performance

Full course syllabus

Module 1: Risks and opportunities from environmental sustainability

Key mega-trends and drivers for sustainability and how these extend into key environmental risks for organisations including:

  • Energy security and decarbonisation
  • Impacts of waste management and landfill
  • Degradation of the climate system and other natural systems
  • Land-use pressures (impacts on farming, food security, deforestation and biodiversity)
  • Population growth and consumption
  • Impacts of pollution
  • Opportunities from more sustainable products and services

This section will also explain common understandings of ‘sustainability’, ‘environmental sustainability’ and ‘sustainable development’.

Module 2: Laws and other compliance obligations

  • Key environmental regulators and philosophy of enforcement
  • How the regulators enforce (real-world examples)
  • Environmental Sentencing Guidelines (UK)
  • Key statutory compliance requirements for energy, climate change, waste management, conservation/biodiversity, pollution and property management
  • Review of why some non-statutory elements (e.g. codes of practice, company directives) may be treated as compliance requirements
  • Overview of a select key international environmental agreement

Module 3: Key environmental sustainability issues

The aim of this section will be to give a basic understanding of the key environmental sustainability impacts:

  • Climate change and contributory human and natural factors
  • Resource depletion
  • Pollution (source-pathway-receptor and impacts in the environmental – typical types of water pollution, air pollutants and contaminated land)
  • Biodiversity loss (global trends)
  • Population growth, urbanisation and consumption trends
  • Statutory nuisance issues and how they should be managed

The focus will not just be on understanding the impact of these, but also on the human contributions to them.

Module 4: Improving environmental sustainability performance

This section is about putting the information from the course into your own organisation. You'll explore:

  • Understanding how environmental management systems can be used for managing risks and opportunities
  • Sustainable behaviours in the workforce (how we all can make a difference)
  • Environmental incidents and emergency response

Module 5: Drivers for change and barriers

This section will evaluate the reasons organisation make transformational change including:

  • Awareness and competence
  • Time and cost constraints
  • Commitment (at different levels in an organisation)
  • Supply-chain pressures (upstream) and customer pressures (downstream)
  • Stakeholder pressures (interested parties)
  • Change-management principles

Module 6: Using data for performance improvement

Assessing environmental performance through:

  • Commonly encountered environmental metrics: carbon footprinting, waste data, energy data and others (also some key social indicators)
  • Choosing the correct indicators including why/ when to use absolute and normalised KPIs
  • Quantifiable/qualitative information
  • How data can be used to drive performance improvement

Module 7: Environmental sustainability across the value chain

This section will look at how organisations can meaningfully implement sustainability across different facets of their organisation, through their supply chain and other linked stakeholders. It includes:

  • The definition of a value chain
  • Life-cycle thinking and the link to value chains
  • How value-chain thinking supports sustainability
  • Typical roles supporting sustainability within and outside organisations
  • Life-cycle assessments and their application

Module 8: Improving resource efficiency

This section will focus on how to minimise the use of energy and resources, including:

  • Understanding resource flows in the delegate organisation
  • Waste hierarchy (and practical applications)
  • Water management
  • Energy management
  • Circular economy principals

Module 9: Employees and sustainability performance

This section will be about how managers/supervisors can help drive improvements in sustainability through influencing the people they work with:

  • Engagement strategies – how to involve staff in driving environmental improvements
  • Communication – including successful messaging
  • How an EMS (e.g. ISO14001:2015) can be used to drive change in an organisation, e.g. through leadership engagement


There is a 30-minute, online multiple-choice test made up of 20 questions. Learners must answer 70% correctly to pass.

The test is hosted by IEMA on their assessment portal and needs to be completed within 28 days of completing the course.

Train your staff online

With an award-winning LMS and beautifully crafted, personalised learner experiences, our online course is the quick, safe and reliable way to get your staff IEMA certified. 

IEMA Sustainability Skills Online Course

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