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Wednesday 21 December 2022 11:02am

Leena Tirrul and Sara Walton at Te Nohoaka o Tukiauau Sinclair Wetlands
Leena Tirrul and Sara Walton at Te Nohoaka o Tukiauau Sinclair Wetlands

A University of Otago programme that tackles the big issues of sustainability, climate change and resource scarcity has been endorsed by the largest professional body for environmental practitioners worldwide. It is the first partnership of its kind in Aotearoa.

The Master of Sustainable Business has received this official accreditation from the Institute of Environmental Management & Assessment (IEMA).

IEMA is the professional body for individuals and organisations working in sustainability and protecting the environment. The United Kingdom network has over 17,000 members worldwide and a growing presence here in New Zealand.

Programme Director, Associate Professor Sara Walton, says:

“This partnership with IEMA really does validate that to be a sustainability professional there are certain skills that are recognised globally, and Otago is the first in the country to be providing those skills.”

Associate Professor Walton has seen a marked shift in sustainability in business since the programme started in 2017.

“Sustainability is no longer viewed as an exercise in public relations. There are now legislative requirements such as climate change response and footprint disclosures. This increased accountability and need to manage risks places sustainability at the centre of good business practice.”

She says this international partnership between Otago and IEMA is a good match. With a shared view that, to be effective, environmental change needs to work with the economy.

“There's no other course like this in New Zealand, and so we are constantly looking to collaborate globally to ensure our programme is cutting edge and equipping our students with the required skills.”

Adam Weller is the Sustainability Manager at Waste Management New Zealand, the Chair of IEMA in New Zealand and on the Board of the Sustainable Business Network.

“The New Zealand business environment is transitioning itself towards a future low carbon world underpinned by the circular economy; and leading this transition is a new career path – the sustainability professional,” Mr Weller says.

“To be a successful sustainability professional you need to have wide range of skills such as understanding the science of the carbon, water, and nitrogen cycles, through to being able to write a successful business case and more.

“Such a wide range of skills can only be fully learnt and understood through a detailed level of study and it's fantastic to see the great Master of Sustainable Business at the University of Otago leading this change by being the first New Zealand university to be IEMA accredited.”

Leena Tirrul is completing her Master of Sustainable Business. Her research is looking at ways businesses can make a positive impact on biodiversity through initiatives in Aotearoa.

She believes this recognition by IEMA is going to provide more opportunities for students, graduates and for sustainability overall in New Zealand.

“Just like biodiversity, initiatives cannot be successful without connections, relationships, and partnerships, I think sustainability professionals are the same,” Miss Tirrul says.

“We need to share knowledge, we need to network, we need to grow together and share our opportunities and challenges.”

The Master of Sustainable Business programme can be studied in-person on campus or online during the evening, allowing professionals to continue to work while they study. Graduates of this programme are in demand across a range of industries, working in roles such as sustainability manager and sustainable business consultant.

Read more about the Master of Sustainable Business at Otago.

For more information please contact:

Associate Professor Sara Walton
Department of Management
University of Otago

Antonia Wallace
Communications Advisor
University of Otago
Mob +64 21 279 4144

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