Its national Volunteers Week from 1-7 June and at the CIEEM Secretariat, we want to use this opportunity to recognise the incredible contributions volunteers make to our Institute. Volunteers are at the heart of everything we do as a professional body, and influence and shape the work we do at all levels. We can’t say thank you enough to everyone who donates their time with us, are here is just a snapshot of the impact which our fantastic volunteer community can make to our cause every year!
We have a standing committee, TECDC (Training, Education, Careers, Development Committee), which consists of 12 CIEEM members who provide expert guidance to the Professional Development Team and their activities, helping us to craft our yearly events and training courses. We rely on committee volunteers for their guidance to help organise successful conference programmes for our larger national and devolved nation conferences, and since April 2020, with their help we have organised 7 online conferences!
Our Degree Accreditation Group provide invaluable support and guidance with regard to the accreditation scheme, especially as we progress towards a competency-based criteria.
Student members also contribute towards further supporting our student and early careers members, 15 of whom by volunteering to be part of our Student Focus Group. This group has met three times since forming in 2020, discussing many items of interest including articles for In Practice, webinar ideas, development of a careers toolkit, improvement of the CIEEM Membership offer, the CIEEM Mentoring platform and more! Two student members on the focus group also undertook interviews with senior members, and then written these up as ‘Career Profiles’ to be featured in In Practice. Volunteers are a core part of the CIEEM Mentoring programme. We have 105 members who volunteered to be mentors, registered on the CIEEM Mentoring Platform. Of these, 73 are currently matched with a mentee.
Our Professional Standards Committee (15 volunteers) and the Professional Conduct Pool (13 volunteers) have provided invaluable support to the Professional Conduct Inquiry Process in the first half of 2021, handling 34 complaints at various stages during the period Jan-May.
The 13 volunteers of our Ecological Impact Assessment (EcIA) Accreditation Working Group have shown unwavering commitment in progressing the project.
The Awards Judging Panel (42 members) have spent hours assessing this year’s nominations, which includes up to as many as 18 nominations each! The shortlist is coming soon!
The Membership Team have a pool of 75 brilliant Volunteer Assessors, reviewing all Chartership, Full and Associate applications. On average our volunteer assessors review a new or upgrading member application every single day – their hard work and dedication underpins our application assessment process and in turn supports hundreds of members each year!
We have two standing Committees (Membership Admissions Committee with 15 members and the Registration Authority with 12 members) all made up of our volunteer assessors coming together to work on the strategic development of membership and chartership activities and processes. Over the last year Chartership assessors have reviewed 40 applications including taking the time to interview applicants at the Professional Review Interview stage.
Since last year’s Volunteers Week, 500 Associate and Full applications have been assessed. Since the start of our new subscription year alone, we’ve admitted and upgraded nearly 270 members! An outstanding achievement!
Policy and Communications
CIEEM would not be in the position that we are now – growing in influence by advising decision-makers on policy and practice to improve the natural environment for both people and nature – without the expertise and evidence provided by our policy volunteers. We have developed a series of infographics to provide just a snapshot of the ways in which we, through working with our volunteers, have influenced nature conservation legislation, policy and practice across the UK and Ireland in 2020, and we have already carried this momentum into 2021!
We have 52 Country Policy Group volunteers (3 of whom also sit on the Strategic Policy Panel) and 9 Strategic Policy Panel volunteers. Contributions to policy work vary depending on the type and number of consultations published by policy makers, but for each briefing, position statement and consultation response, our volunteers donate a significant amount of time in reading these documents and providing their expert recommendations. Our policy volunteer attendance at meetings equate to 30 hours per year of idea and information-sharing, planning our policy work and developing responses to active issues.
In 2020 alone, our policy volunteers helped us submit 19 consultation responses across the UK devolved nations and Republic of Ireland, publish 8 policy documents including briefing papers, position statements and information for members, build relationships with Statutory Nature Conservation Organisations in all UK devolved countries through meetings and events, represent CIEEM’s views on government working groups on biodiversity in planning and agriculture, and much more as highlighted in the infographics linked above.
We also have an Action 2030 Project Working Group, containing 14 volunteers. Our Action 2030 volunteers have gone above and beyond to provide advice to both CIEEM and our members in addressing the climate emergency and biodiversity crisis. In the first year of the Action 2030 project, they have helped deliver our 2020 Summer Conference online on ‘The Climate and Biodiversity Crises: Professional Approaches and Practical Actions’, held webinars on carbon reduction for ecologists and addressing the climate emergency in the Overseas Territories, in collaboration with CIEEM’s Overseas Territories Special Interest Group, published four In Practice articles relating to the climate emergency and biodiversity crisis, published four blogs on the CIEEM website related to the climate emergency and biodiversity crisis, helped develop CIEEM’s new carbon monitoring process and Carbon Management Plan to be published this June and much more! You can find out more about the members of the Action 2030 working group and their work to date on our website.
We have 178 volunteers who currently sit on at least one of our 11 Member Network (Geographic Section) and 4 Special Interest Group (SIG) Committees. Despite the challenges of the past 18 months, there were still some highly successful events and initiatives led by Member Networks and SIGs during 2020/21. These contributions have included digital newsletters, attendance at online university careers fairs, the launching of a monthly webinar series, and four one-off webinars with an attendance of more than 100 people! Additionally, several Member Networks and SIGs engaged with external organisations, such as the Landscape Institute, BSI Group, and the British Ecological Society, to share best practice and to influence decision making. Some committee volunteers also attended the bi-annual Convenor’s meetings, seeking to grow and improve their groups and to improve the support they offer for CIEEM members.
Leadership and Governance
Even at the most senior levels, volunteers have been steering the CIEEM ship through the rough waters of recent months. Our volunteer-led Governing Board (12 volunteers) and Advisory Forum (26 volunteers) have been using their knowledge and experience to guide the Institute in its decision making, and to influence how CIEEM can best assist its members under challenging circumstances for us all. Recent months have undoubtedly increased demands on these volunteers time, yet they have committed many additional hours to their volunteer roles which has been extremely valuable to CIEEM.
To summarise, the points above merely scratch the surface of how volunteers are at the heart of everything CIEEM is and does. The CIEEM secretariat would like to express its continued gratitude to is wonderful volunteer community. Their enthusiasm, passion for ecology and environmental management, knowledge and expertise have been crucial to CIEEM being able continue to grow and improve standards across with sector. We simply would not be where we are without them.
To all CIEEM volunteers, from staff at the secretariat, THANK YOU! We are so proud to have you in our team.