Adam Donnan
20 February 2021

IES in 2021: looking back and forward

2020 was a tricky year for the IES and many of our members, but there was still plenty to be proud of. Many of us adapted to remote working, we all got used to delivering and participating in CPD online, and pets and children became our new colleagues. The pandemic also forced some changes within the sector, such as the acceleration of remote sensing and digital EIA, and it helped us all to reflect on what is important in our lives.

2020 in numbers: 100 new CEnvs, 33 webinars, 26 workshops, 22 events, 16 analysis pieces, 10% growth in membership, 7 new members of staff, 4 journals, 4 reports, and one new professional register

Despite this, I think most of us are looking forward to a more settled year. Whilst we cannot promise a complete return to normalcy, we do feel confident enough to outline some of the projects we plan to deliver in 2021.

Our roadmap to COP26

The UN Climate Conference (COP26) will be held in Glasgow in November. In the run up to the conference, the IES is facilitating six discussions with the sector, involving members, other professional bodies, and environmental NGOs as we set out our roadmap to COP26. The first debate on sustainability took place in February on climate action and sustainability. Throughout the year, we will be publishing blogs and news stories, holding events and publishing a journal to keep members abreast of all the developments and help the environmental science community to make a meaningful contribution to the conference. If you would like to get involved, please join our COP26 community.

Guiding transformative change: the new IES strategy

The IES operates three-year strategies that run concurrently with the term in office of a Chair. In April we will be launching our 2021-4 strategy. Throughout 2019 and 2020 IES staff and trustees explored seven research themes to underpin the new strategy. This strategy outlines the current opportunity for us to capture the best of the values of our fifty-year history, whilst recognising the accelerated role we must play in helping members and society overcome a series of interlinking crises – climate change, biodiversity-loss, soil depletion, deepening inequality, and public health issues.

A plan for systemic change to improve diversity in the sector

The environmental profession is the second least ethnically diverse in the UK. This can mean that there is a disconnect between those driving solutions forward to combat environmental problems and those most impacted by them.

Systems change is difficult, and we don't pretend we have all the answers. There is clear need for research, education and reform to identify and address the key barriers which result in low ethnic diversity across the sector, and inspire those from ethnic minority backgrounds to pursue a career in the environmental profession.

We want to continue researching the issue within the environmental sector, but we also believe 2021 is the time for action.

Updating our visual identity and website

Much as we love our retro 1970s iconography, we recognise that we are overdue a visual identity refresh. Towards the end of 2021 we hope to share with you our new visual identity and a roadmap for website improvements. Our website visitors like that they can find information on our website quickly, and we will be maintaining our strong commitment to open access, so we won't be throwing all our resources behind a paywall. We will take these principles forward into our new website that will place user experience at the heart of the design.

Bringing the outside in

Covid-19 has sharpened the focus on healthy buildings and our exposure to indoor air pollutants. In 2019, the IAQM expanded its mission to include indoor air quality: in 2021, this new focus will bring a number of projects to fruition. New indoor air quality guidance will be published in June, launched at an IAQM forum on the theme. We will be introducing all our members to this important topic through a journal in Q2.


We won't be hurrying back to physical events until we think it is safe to do so and we have enjoyed the greater international engagement that our online delivery has enabled. We are pleased to announce that the IAQM RTCA will be returning in 2021. We are committed to continuing our at-least-fortnightly lunchtime webinars, with a focus on some of our specialisms that have had less attention in the last few years.

There will be plenty of other projects announced throughout the year. We can’t thank you enough for all your support so far; IES only works because you make it work. We’re ready for 2021 and I’m excited to see what we achieve.