How the CEnvP Scheme commenced in New Zealand

Published 9 November 2016 by Emeritus Professor ​Ian Spellerberg HFEIANZ

Continuing on from ​Ian Spellerberg's account of how the New Zealand Chapter became part of the Environment Institute, Ian covers the beginning of the Certified Environmental Practitioner Scheme in New Zealand.

Certified Environmental Practitioner (CEnvP)  – how did this commence in New Zealand?

The functions of professional institutes include support for continuing professional development, and also accreditation of certificate and degree program. Another function has been the certification of individual’s professional integrity and competent professional practice.

Very relevant to the discussions about proposed certification for ecologists was a letter sent to the New Zealand Ecological Society (published in their Newsletter) in March 2002. The letter was from the planning department of a District Council asking “how to determine who can be called an expert ecologist”. The Editor of the Newsletter referred to the Ecological Society of America Certification Programme that had been in existence since 1981.

In Australia in 2002, the EIA established a Certification Working group. Ian discussed this initiative with Simon Molesworth Q.C. during the formal launch of the New Zealand Chapter in May 2003. Subsequently Ian was invited to be the New Zealand representative on the Certification Working Group. The CEnvP (Certified Environmental Practitioner) was established in 2004 as an initiative of the EIANZ.

In New Zealand, Ian commenced discussions with Barry Carbon (CEO of the Ministry for the Environment) about certification for environmental practitioners. In June 2004, a letter about the proposed certification was sent to all CRI’s, government departments and regional and district councils. With help from the late Nick Early, media releases were prepared about the certification.

With the CEnvP having been launched, it was expected that environmental practitioners in New Zealand would start to apply for certification. However there was no review panel within New Zealand. In consultation with Peter Skelton, Ian identified and then wrote in confidence to 15 ‘persons of status’ within New Zealand to request their interest in being a member of the inaugural certification panel. Subsequently, three people agreed to review the first applications within New Zealand. They worked independently and liaised only with the CEnvP secretariat in Melbourne.

In 2005, the first applications from within New Zealand were being processed and by March 2006, seven people were the first in New Zealand to gain this new qualification. These were Pene Burns, Bill Chisolm, Rochelle Hardy, Shaun Lewis, Bob Penter, Rebecca Roper-Gee and Ian Spellerberg.

Despite the small number of first successful applicants and the geographical difficulties of arranging panellists to meet applicants, the CEnvP was very soon an aspiration of a growing number of environmental practitioners. As we now know, the CEnvP was (by design) a generic qualification and was soon to be followed by certification in specialist areas.

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