IntroductionFrom the outset, IPMS has had four objectives.
First, we want to make sure that every nation, particularly in the developing world, has a corps of people able to bring together the contending forces in their country to implement the key elements of the Sustainability Agenda enacted at the United Nations Conference on Environment and Development in Rio in 1992.
Second, we want to build a global network of "like-minded" individuals who understand that the tools for sustainable development (like impact assessment, risk assessment, and cost-benefit analysis) are only useful if they are applied in a transparent and accountable way. Governments must be willing to bring representatives of civil society and business into a consensus building partnership.
Third, we want to "train trainers". That is: we are trying to equip key individuals in each country with the elements of a curriculum that they can tailor for presentation to their regional community.
Finally, we are trying to underscore the importance of organizational and institutional capacity building, particularly in the developing world. It is not enough to hone the skills of key individuals, no matter how remarkable their leadership abilities. Sustainability is a long term goal that depends on the continued enhancement of the underlyiing capacity of governmental agencies, grass roots organizations, business associations, and academic institutions in every country.
To date, 649 individuals from 85 countries have completed the International Programme on the Management of Sustainability. They represent national governments, local governments, NGOs, educational institutions, private companies, international organizations, and trade associations. Many have been able to use what they learned at IPMS almost immediately to take important steps to enhance sustainable development.
In this section of the SCF website, the activities of fifteen IPMS alumni are highlighted. Each profile of a past IPMS participant indicates the year they were in residence in the Netherlands and their current work. We asked each person to summarize the most important lessons they learned from IPMS and describe the ways they have been applying those lessons.
Finally, we asked them for their suggestions regarding possible improvements in the Programme and ways of broadening its impact.
Those of us who have been involved from the outset know that something remarkable happens when an internationally and professionally diverse group gets together to participate in an intensive hands-on curriculum and to share ideas, cultural perspectives, and personal experiences. As those profiles indicate, IPMS makes an indelible impression, spurring people to action, and drawing them into an ever-widening network of friends, advisors, and supporters. We are not sure exactly why or how it works, but each year's program seems to achieve that magical effect.
If you have questions about how you might participate in or support the Programme or you are interested in learning more about the work of the Sustainability Challenge Foundation that coordinates IPMS, contact us via our offices in Tilburg, The Netherlands. Each year's program in June offers yet another group of committed individuals a chance to experience something special.