2022 was an extreme year for climate emergencies. It was one of the world’s warmest years, especially in the UK where we saw the highest annual temperature increase on record. Despite the Paris Agreement entering its seventh year, no single world economy is on track to limit its global emissions to only 1.5 degrees of warming. Time is running out, and this sense of urgency underpinned everything CIWEM achieved last year. It is at the core of our new strategy: People, Planet, Possibility. Our resolve to enable and deliver the change we need to see in the world is even greater as we step into 2023.
Reflecting on the past year, three highlights spring to mind. Firstly, seeing our community and members come together in person at our events after a long period of uncertainty. Our Flood & Coast and UDG (Urban Drainage Group) conferences were a fantastic success and we look forward to building on both of these in 2023. It was inspiring to see our branches return to local in-person events while continuing to lead a wide range of free webinars for our global community to enjoy. We ended the year with a networking reception to announce the winners of the Environmental Photographer of the Year (EPOTY) competition. The 2022 competition went beyond our expectations, greatly supported by our partners WaterBear, Nikon and Arup who helped us make the competition a success. We were also pleased to introduce an ethics panel, ensuring tighter ethical standards. It’s through competitions like this that we can highlight global environmental issues that matter and the people that document them.
My second highlight was making significant progress on our commitment to growing diversity and inclusion (D&I) both at CIWEM and across our sector. Our D&I committee within our Trustee Board launched a D&I strategy that sits across our corporate strategy. And, the 2021/2022 presidential term was the first time we appointed a junior president position, held by Mathew Jack. Providing opportunities to early career professionals is part of our growing commitment to inspire and support future leaders in the sector. Our WEM Pride network also held its first online events, focusing on the importance of visible symbols and being an ally to the LGBTQIA+ community. It gave LGBTQIA+ people a safe space to share stories and increased awareness on the importance of D&I in the sector.
Thirdly, watching CIWEM act again as an authority around matters of policy and impact is hugely rewarding. Our Planet Possible podcast explored challenging water and environmental issues with experts in their field and our policy work has been at the front of real change. We recently led the campaign for the government to implement schedule 3 of the Flood and Water Management Act 2010, with a letter to Rishi Sunak. As of this week the government have announced they will finally implement the change which will mandate sustainable drainage (SuDS) in new developments. This gives me great pride and assurance that the work we’re doing at CIWEM is the absolute best it can be.
2022 was an amazing year for CIWEM and we couldn’t have done it without the unrelenting support from our community and volunteers from around the world, from our extraordinary branches to every one of our member’s individual commitments to the sector. Our 2021/2022 presidential team was led by former president Nicholas Howden and former junior president Matthew Jack and has now been handed over to our 2022/2023 president Steve Thompsett and junior president Emily Shipton.
Steve’s theme for the year ahead proposes that, “wicked problems demand wicked solutions”. I think this perfectly captures what 2023 is all about. Looking forward this year we are leading with a digital-first approach to connect with people and our planet at its heart and we will continue our ambitions to expand our D&I programme. This March we have a women’s takeover issue of The Environment magazine for International Women’s Day, celebrating the amazing work of women in our community. Our Planet Possible podcast is also featuring a dedicated episode on the women in the Flood and Coastal Erosion Risk Management (FCERM) sector and their groundbreaking work.
We are beginning a year of possibility, a year of diverse thinking and investment. I am proud to be working alongside so many of our members who continue to make the world a better place. Thank you to all our volunteers, supporters, and organisational partners from around the world. You are what makes us a success and you are admired around the world for the work that you do. The mission cannot succeed without you. I am beyond excited by the opportunities we have ahead of us and the capabilities within our membership. This is something I feel very personal about because I have the enviable pleasure of spending time with our people. Your passion for sustainability and for CIWEM itself is a joy to experience and hugely energising. The more you engage with CIWEM the more you will feel this too.
Lastly, thank you to our amazing business and commercial partners that enhance the visibility of our activities and help us act as the leading light for others in their commitment to bettering our environment. We can't wait to see what projects and impact we can create together in 2023.
As our 2023 mission begins, and the challenges of the next generation are here today, we need to keep pace with expert professionals as we, together, tackle tomorrow’s problems. The momentum from CIWEM will continue and we can’t wait to share and celebrate everything we achieve.
Terry Fuller BEng (Hons), CEng, C.WEM, FCIWEM, MICE.
26 January 2023
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