I’ve spent most of the weekend as if in some kind of day dream. Probably like many people in our profession. (Self-declaration: I voted in...)
Having spent my working life in the EU, I’ve taken great interest in the way environmental legislation is created, adopted and implemented and sees Europe shaping and defining UK environmental policy - dragging it kicking and screaming from the ‘dirty man of europe’ of the 80’s to, now I think of it, a country great on thought leadership, yet begrudgingly compliant. We may have led the way on environmental management systems and pollution permitting control, but on kerbside recycling, environmental design, energy labelling, impact assessment, landfill, air quality, circular economy, and bathing water, we have to agree surely that EU has led the way.
Yes, we do like a moan in the UK, but our achievements in creating a sustainable economy while protecting and enhancing the natural environment have been hard fought in spite of the financial, political or hierarchical challenges we often face.
My reaction to the news of the out vote has been of shock and disappointment. As time has gone on that has been replaced by a degree of fear in what might be a wildfire of environmental deregulation. The environmental press have captured this sentiment who have reacted similarly, expressing a combination of fear, doubt and uncertainty.
Two weeks after my professional body in all things environment and sustainable, IEMA, published its bright, open, and brave vision for transforming the world to sustainability, I have at times caught myself with a wry ironic smile. “Transforming the world to sustainability” from little England now seems a daunting proposition. I can picture now a future Prime Minister, standing on a melting Greenland icecap past its tipping point, preaching to the world about what everyone should be doing about climate change while glibly ignoring our own mediocre, confused and frequently changing policy on the environment.
We cannot change the outcome of the vote, but we can influence what happens next, mobilising and influencing the agenda in our organisations and whoever is in Government in shaping a future policy for the UK or negotiating the manner of the UK’s exit.
It's easy to be fearful of a de-regulation agenda, however the UK brexit vote is precisely the reason why we need to need to step-up and step-forward with confidence, taking this unique event as an opportunity to make the UK a shining beacon on the global environmental and sustainability agenda.
Now is the time form a visionary, bold, and progressive agenda for the environment, and for sustainability in the UK - for us to be bright, open and brave in working with our politicians and decisions makers, whomever they may be, to deliver on the instruction given by the country in a way that moves forward from where we are, not backward.
Photo by Kien Do via Unsplash
Brexit - Time for a visionary, bold and progressive agenda on environment and sustainability in the UK