Global sustainability mega-forces – population growth, technology change and shifting demographics – are affecting the context in which organizations thrive.

Leading professional associations understand this and provide education, resources and incentives to their professional members to help them enhance their competencies to steward their organizations and society to future success.

To assist professional associations and accelerate the transition to the sustainable future we all want, The Natural Step Canada and Strandberg Consulting have partnered to create The Sustainable Professional Association Initiative.

The Natural Step Canada is a non-profit with a mandate to help organizations understand and progress toward sustainability. Strandberg Consulting has conducted global research into the emerging sustainability competencies professionals and business leaders will need to steer their organizations to success over the coming decades.

Which professional groups does this initiative affect?

The Natural Step Canada and Strandberg Consulting have identified the key professional groups who have a strong sustainability imperative and opportunity to influence sustainability progress for their organization, and its sector, value chain and operating context.

These groups include:

  • Public Relations
  • Risk
  • Internal Audit
  • Human Resources
  • Strategic Planning
  • Government Affairs
  • Marketing
  • Product Development and Design
  • Corporate Secretary
  • General Counsel
  • Engineering
  • Finance
  • Project Manager
  • Sales

What can the Sustainable Professional Association Initiative offer your association?

We engage professional associations that represent these functions to support them in enhancing the sustainability capacity of their members. We support Associations to either begin or enhance the inclusion of sustainability competencies within the Association’s professional development or professional qualifications. This may include the following tasks:

  • Identify the relevant sustainability risks and opportunities that will affect the professional’s role over the next 5 – 10 years, including the business case or rationale
  • Develop a benchmark of how best practice professional associations equip their members with sustainability competencies
  • Presentations to association boards on the opportunities and imperatives of sustainability competencies for professionals
  • Develop roadmaps and workplans to help associations advance sustainability within their membership
  • Draft survey questions to baseline current practices and identify best practices
  • Identify sustainability competencies, behaviours and practices to include in competency models, specialist designations, qualifications, standards, certifications, ongoing professional development, awards and other recognition, etc.
  • Develop curriculum materials, training programs, guidelines and checklists
  • Enhance your training institution partnership so it provides increased sustainability training offerings to your members
  • Deliver training or other informational sessions via conferences, webinars and/or in-person to members
  • Provide custom coaching and support to leaders within organizations or associations who wish to advance the pace of change for professional groups
  • Develop and profile case studies of members who demonstrate the qualities and competencies within their organizations
  • Support your association’s public policy advocacy work to engage governments on the need for sustainable public policy
  • Write articles and/or provide references and resources to introduce the topic to members and the public
  • Other topics of interest to the association

What are the benefits to the professional and the association?

We believe that professional associations are a primary gateway to enhancing the sustainability performance of all organizations. Because the sustainability imperative is a relatively new business issue, though, many established professionals were not exposed to these issues in their early education.

Professionals and the associations that represent them have an essential role to play in both fostering organizational success and advancing the public’s interest in a sustainable society for present and future generations. Those members who upgrade their sustainability competencies will be better positioned to enhance their value proposition to the organizations they serve.

How can your association get involved?

We are working with professional associations to develop roadmaps and programs for their members to prepare them for future leadership roles, within their organizations and society at large.

Please contact us if your professional association would like to participate in this initiative.

Tamara Connell, Senior Associate, The Natural Step Canada
Coro Strandberg, President

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