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Meet our Environmental Policy Manager

Published: Tue, 9 May 2017
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Catherine Savage, Environmental Policy Manager (Acting)
Catherine Savage
Catherine Savage, Environmental Policy Manager (Acting)
I am...
Catherine Savage, the Environmental Policy Manager (Acting) at the Housing Executive.
I have been working in…
the Environmental Policy Unit since 2007.  
The unit was set up in 1999 to focus on environmental issues. Since its inception, the unit’s scope has widened as new issues emerge including sustainable development, climate change issues, biodiversity, food poverty, environmental benchmarking, waste management and engagement with councils on environmental wellbeing within Community Planning.
Over the past eight years my work with stakeholders and various networks has extended considerably, particularly with third sector organisations, to create a more collaborative way of working. The third sector in particular has added an interesting dimension to the work of the unit. Good, secure links have been established with many groups in this sector which I hope will continue to expand and grow through future initiatives.  
The Environmental Policy Unit’s core aim is…
To ensure we have the correct environmental policies and processes in place and that all environmental legislative requirements are met to avoid risk, fines and damage to our reputation as well as the environment.
We have a number of objectives…
Getting everyone to recognise that our environment is not an inexhaustible resource is vital and striking the balance between the responsible use, and protection of, natural resources is important.
As individuals and as an organisation we need to be aware of how our activities impact upon our environment and should it be damaged how long it will take to recover. As a unit we are working in collaboration with others towards the NI Executive’s goal of halting the loss of biodiversity by 2020.  We worked with the RSPB and our Grounds Maintenance teams to develop our Biodiversity Action Plan 2015-20 and we’ve been collaborating with local councils (eg with Belfast City Council on the Grow Wild Flowers Project to create a city of wildflowers through the Big Lottery initiative) on various biodiversity projects. I am also working with Belfast Food Network on a Sustainable Food City Award which is aimed at tackling food poverty in NI.
Our Environmental Policy demonstrates our pledge to issues on the environment. It includes a commitment to continual improvement and prevention of pollution and recognises the importance of effective links with communities as well as our commitment to sustainable development. Our policy is clearly communicated to ensure all our staff, contractors, customers and other stakeholders and business sectors are aware of and understand our commitment to the environment.
The most satisfying part of my work
It is exciting to work in a constantly evolving sector. As a qualified Lead Environmental Auditor and Associate Member of the Institute of Environmental Management & Assessment (IEMA) it’s important for me to keep up to date with the emerging issues and trends.
Good environmental conditions are important for people’s well-being and this is becoming increasingly recognised.  Indeed local councils have identified environmental wellbeing as one of the three pillars of Community Planning. The launch of the revised council structures brings a new element to my work and I am looking forward to developing this aspect over the coming years.
Representing our Environmental Policy Unit at conferences, seminars, workshops and through other networking and engagement opportunities is important to me, and it is satisfying to garner new ideas and bring fresh thinking into the unit – this is vital to the nature of our work.
To conclude, the planet we live in is constantly evolving and one of its most attractive qualities is how it affects us all.