For those on the frontlines of the climate emergency, the immediacy of the challenge does not afford the luxury of despair, that is to accept disaster. Resilience is the only option.

In June, I will step down from my role as Chief Executive of UKGBC. With this milestone rapidly approaching, I find myself reflecting ever more on what has been an extraordinary eight years.

During my time at UKGBC, I have witnessed a heady mix of remarkable progress and dismal setbacks. Sustainability has shot-up the agenda as awareness of the climate and ecological crises has escalated. Net zero is now a familiar term and has been the driving force behind countless developments and discussions throughout our industry. Yet there has been no risk of complacency as sluggish government policy and industry inertia have blocked progress and served as a reminder of how far we still must go.

Amidst all these ups and downs, I continue to believe that to be a good leader one must remain resilient – to overcome adversity, adapt to changing conditions, and hold steadfast to achieving our long-term goals. Remaining resilient in the face of the climate emergency is no easy feat, but core pillars such as hope, a clear vision and a focus on action and impact have strengthened my ability to bounce back and keep pushing for radical change.

Reading the headline statements of the IPCC’s latest report, AR6, you would be forgiven for feeling disheartened and overwhelmed.  But dig a little deeper, beyond the media headlines, and the report shows another side to the coin. Member of the core writing team, Aditi Mukherji, claims the report is really a ‘message of hope’ and acknowledges that we have the means and the knowhow to reduce emissions and adapt our communities to the ongoing effects of the climate emergency. For me, reading Mukherji’s sentiment summoned up images of Tuvalu’s Foreign Minister, Simon Kofe, urging the COP26 delegation to take action whilst standing in the rising waters of the small island nation.  For those on the frontlines of the climate emergency, the immediacy of the challenge does not afford the luxury of despair, that is to accept disaster. Resilience is the only option.

In the built environment context, we see the solutions and pathways our industry is creating and adopting daily. But these alone are not enough. We must align these tools with hope, share widely our vision and empower our whole teams to lead from the inside out – so they can be resilient and ambitious leaders of the transformation no matter their job title or level.

At UKGBC, we see effective sustainability leadership as a key ingredient needed to drive widescale, transformational change. We continue to support thousands of built environment professionals to develop sustainability leadership skills and empower them to drive the change and remain resilient through challenging times.

As I consider the future of our industry, I am filled with even more hope knowing I am passing the UKGBC baton not only into the hands of my successor, Smith Mordak, but also to the thousands of built environment professionals that have and will continue to pass through our leadership programmes and courses – they are the champions of our industry and will be on the front line of building a net zero, climate resilient and regenerative built environment

Upcoming sustainability leadership opportunities at UKGBC:

Future Leaders – for early career professionals

For those seeking a longer-term programme of development, we are pleased to announce that applications for a special summer edition are now open. To celebrate the tenth year of our renowned sustainability leadership programme, we are hosting an extra edition running from July – November across Birmingham, London and in nature. Apply now.

Leadership Lite – for all career stages

Capturing highlights from our leadership programmes, Leadership Lite delivers key insights and concepts via the six-week Sustainability Leadership WhatsApp course and Playbook for flexible, on-the-go learning for busy built environment professionals at all career stages. Register your interest for the next Leadership Lite course here.