Environmental Trends 2020


For the fourth year in a row, we have put together a list of the hot topic issues facing environmental practitioners Canada and beyond.

Thanks to input from our Research Community members, EP members and employers participating as hosts in our Wage Funding program, we have heard firsthand which issues will be at the forefront in 2020, and the state of environmental progress that we’ve inherited from changes over the past year.

Below are some of the trending topics that stood out for experienced environmental professionals.

Question: what emerging environmental fields do you see coming to the forefront in 2020?

Answers include the following topics and themes:

  • Climate change and clean fuels
  • Carbon tax strategy
  • Roles that require expertise in air quality, air/emissions modelling and in-situ testing, and Environmental, Social Governance (ESG) roles
  • Renewable energy development
Top Trends 2020 Graphic- Presented by ECO Canada

Which technologies do you think will take off in 2020 

  • Any technology linked to renewable natural gas or renewable energy and clean power
  • Saline water treatment technologies
  • GHG reduction technologies
  • Microgrid energy systems
  • Robotics, machine learning, and artificial intelligence
  • Aquaponics and other forms of indoor agriculture

As a special mention, nuclear power could be viewed in a more positive light, according to our experts. “It is a low carbon baseload energy source that is require to make a smooth transition away from fossil fuel dependency.”

What policies or legislation will have the biggest impact on the environment? 

Answers include the following:

  • Excess soil management
  • Waste management policies and enforcement on “polluter pays” principle
  • Energy efficiency policy
  • Bioethics
  • The Pan Canadian framework
  • Remediation requirements

What do you feel was the most significant environmental accomplishment of 2019?

Answers include the following:

  • Greenhouse Gas Awareness and implementation of taxation
  • The shift away from a reliance on single-use plastics
  • The use of phytoremediation
  • Advancements in biotechnology

Are there any other trends you will be keeping an eye on for 2020? 

  • Industrial freshwater utilization reduction
  • Removal of single use plastics
  • Companies going green
  • Waste diversion and sustainable food initiatives
  • The use of nuclear power
  • Electric transportation

Developing Skills for Success

In 2019, we discovered the technical and soft skills that are essential for environmental professionals. Our findings indicate that different experience levels require different aptitudes. For example, an individual who is at an early stage of their career, needs to learn to develop greater industry knowledge. An individual with eight years experience or more should focus on policy and legislation skills.

Chart - Technical Skills

Employers noted that soft skills are as important as technical skills to succeed within an organization. Soft skills are defined as the combination of interpersonal, communication, personality and behaviour attributes that individuals need to advance in their careers.

Our research community members and EP members told us that the skills they need to gain for advancement in their fields in 2020 are air modelling programs, leadership and understanding cultural diversity.

Employers currently participating in our Wage Funding program said that they want their employees to develop communication skills, which includes technical report writing, proofreading and editing. They also indicated the importance of working with a multicultural population. In terms of technical skills, they mentioned engineering skills and using software such as AutoCAD and the Adobe suite.

At the same time, they observed that their employees gained these skills in 2019:

  • Scientific data collection
  • Project management and data analysis
  • Digital marketing
  • Sample preparation

Download our report on Skills Essential for Success in the Environmental Sector for more information on the technical and soft skills that environmental professionals need to develop.

By Alice Barreto

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