The Case for an Institute for Environmental Professionals
Posted on June 25th, 2009

Newspaper Article

In Sri Lanka, most of the professionals groups have established their own professional Institutes to uphold and improve their own professions. Environmental professional render an important service in all sectors including State, Private, NGO and University. However, the lack of such a professional body is a major drawback in the environmental profession in Sri Lanka. The present initiative is contemplated to the remedy this problem. 

 

In this context, the inaugural meeting of Institute of Environmental Professionals Sri Lanka (IEPSL) was held on 4th April 2006 (Tuesday) at 3.00 p.m. at the Auditorium of the Central Environmental Authority under the Chairmanship of the Hon. Minister Mr. Maithripala Sirisena in-charge of the subject of Environment.

 

The second Annual General Meeting (AGM) was held on 4-7-2008 (Friday) at 1.30 p.m. at Trans Asia Hotel Chairmanship of Hon. Dinesh Gunawardena, Minister of Urban Development and Scared Area Development.

 

The third AGM will be held 26th June 2009 at 9.00 a.m. at Hector Kobbekaduwa Agrarian Research and Training Institute. The chief guest of this occasion will be Hon. Patali Champika Ranawaka, Minister of Environment and Natural Resources as the Minister in-charge of the subject of Environment.

 

The overall objective of establishing the IEPSL is to uphold the dignity and raise and reputation of the environmental profession in Sri Lanka and to expand the profession and its services to the country at large. Extend its usefulness to the advantage of the public.

 

A vibrant body of outstanding environmental professionals contributing effectively to the advancement of the field of environment and for resolution of environmental problems confronting the modern society

 

The mission of the Institute is to protect the dignity and recognition of the profession through education, research and application of scientific knowledge, while contributing to maintain high standards in the practice of environmental management”

 

The functions of the Institute are as follows:

 

1. To advance research and examination of professional activities performed by

    the members

2. Intellectual and cognitive activities which lead to paradigms and frameworks

    for organizing data to desirable and explain a professional knowledge and skill

    base.

3. Perform an advocacy role in environmental affairs

4. Use as a platform to discuss essential current issues

5. Develop and adhere to a code of ethics for the environmental profession

6. Act as a link between the dispersed intergovernmental systems

7. Provide a forum for environmental publications

8. Function as a supervisory body on environmental affairs

9. Undertake accreditation of environmental related education and training

      programmes

 

IEPSL is open and inclusive. Membership is open to all individuals interested in promoting the quality of their profession.  Members are drawn from a wide variety of backgrounds who work in an increasingly broad range of fields, disciplines and locations, in the private sector, industry, universities, NGOs, the Government and the statutory agencies.  This unique mix of members is bound together by a code of conduct which brings an ethical dimension to their work.

 

The purpose of the eligibility criteria for membership is to ensure that the membership reflects a high level of professional competence and integrity.  There are several grades of membership such as Fellow, Member, Honorary Member, Associate Member and Student Member.  Applications will only be accepted for the membership category appropriate to an individual’s qualifications.

 

Current membership details are shown as follows:

 

No

Category of Membership 

Number

1

Member

164

2

Associate Member 

7

3

Student Member

4

 

Total

175

 

The Cabinet of Ministers approved the establishment of the IEPSL under an Act of Parliament.  The final draft of the Act is with Legal Draftsman Department who will send it to the Attorney General’s Department for observations.

 

A singular achievement of the institute was the development of a code of ethics. Members of the Institute are expected to exhibit the highest standards of honesty and integrity and are bound by this code of professional conduct. Acceptance of and adherence to this code is a duty of every member and is a condition of membership.

 

Recognizing the need to network with other Institutes and Organizations, the Council resolved   to affiliate with the Institute of Ecological and Environmental Management (IEEM) of the United Kingdom and agreed to sign an MOU with the IEEM for mutual benefits.

 

This MOU is not intended to create legally binding obligations but to record some of the commonly held intentions which are based on that mutual respect and support which is appropriate between professional bodies. 

 

Council agreed for collaborative activities in the following six areas.

 

(1) Exchange of publications

(2) Sharing of information

(3) Links to websites

(4) Supporting common positions e.g. through IUCN resolutions

(5) Issues in the management of a Professional Body

(6)   Exchange resources including human resources

 

MoU was singed with Asian Institute Technology (AIT), Bangkok. Objectives of the MoU are:

 

This MoU provides a framework for mutually beneficial cooperation between the parties in promoting, participating, designing, developing and delivering continuing professional development programs on environmental policy, legal provision, environmental management, pollution control, air pollution and its control, water pollution and its control, solid waste management, hazardous waste management, toxic chemical control, environmental impact assessment (EIA), strategic environmental assessment (SEA), international environmental conservation, cleaner technology, environmental economics, biodiversity conservation, global warming and ozone depletion

 

In 2009, the Institute conducted two training sessions for the IEPSL members as well as environmentalists in attached to state, private and NGO sectors. 

 

The three month certificate course on Environmental Protection and Management was commenced on the 4th of October 2008 at the CEA, Auditorium. Lectures held every Saturday morning from 9.00 a.m. to 12.00 noon.

 

The course is designed to  give the participants a wide ranging knowledge on aspects such as Environmental Policy, Legal Provisions, Environmental Management, Pollution Control, Air Pollution and its Control, Water Pollution and its Control, Solid Waste Management, Hazardous Waste Management, Toxic Chemical Control, EIA, SEA, International Environmental Conventions, Cleaner Technology, Environmental Economics.

 

The Strategic Environmental Assessment (SEA) course was conducted on 4 full days. During the initial two days, 21st and 22nd of February, 2009 lectures on a multitude of aspects on SEA were held at the Hector Kobbekaduwa Agrarian Research and Training Institute, in Colombo 07. This was followed by a field tour to Trincomalee on 28th February and 1st March, 2009 to study the SEA conducted by the CEA on the Trincomalee Metro Development Plan formulated by the Urban Development Authority.

 

Thirty personnel participated in the training programme representing Government, Private Sector, Non Government Sector and interested others. During the course of the training, participants were provided with basic knowledge on SEA, including the difference between SEA and EIA, key facts and benefits of SEA, when SEA is required, outcomes and limitations of SEA. Then attention was paid on the SEA Process including the guiding principles and process, stages and steps in the conductance of the SEA. The methodology for conducting a SEA was described in detail. The process for documentation of the SEA, how SEA can be used as a tool to influence decision making were also discussed. 30 participants were participated.

 

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