a generic framework that helps
you, a subject matter expert, to
develop,  deliver  and  evaluate
your  own  specialized  training

Why do we need a book on environmental training? Aren’t there enough already out there?

Strangely, there are not very many books out there on environmental training. The examples that come up if you search online for ‘environmental training, books’ are technical manuals on training for specific topics like water treatment, wastewater treatment, contaminated soil and other highly technical topics. The thing is, they will be about ‘how to run a water [or wastewater] treatment plant’ or ‘how to clean up contaminated soils’.

Do we need training on these and other essential topics? Yes.

But what if you want to develop training on another subject?

Uniquely, my book is on ‘how to set up, deliver and evaluate the effectiveness of an environmental training programme on “whatever your environmental issue of concern may be” ’.

‘But …’ you’ll be asking – ‘But how does that work? How can one book inform training on the vast diversity of specialist environmental topics out there in the real world?’

Good question. Here’s the answer.

After more than ten years of developing and delivering environmental training for clients on a raft of different specialist topics and observing how effective they were (or not), I was able to isolate seven elements that together were essential for success – that’s my Success Framework.

It will help you apply your environmental expertise to developing, delivering and evaluating a successful training programme on your very own topic of environmental interest or concern.

Our book works on any environmental topic

Are you constantly fighting a rear-guard action against:

  • spills, air pollution and contaminated soils from industrial sites?

  • sediment runoff from land development and heavy construction?

  • the cumulative impacts of wasteful resource use on our ability to limit greenhouse gas emissions and landfill volumes?

  • other gaps in workforce environmental skills?

Collectively, these and other problems are causing worsening water quality, fisheries and recreational values, giving rise to many public complaints and growing community concerns about the climate change and the environment.

They also represent a real loss of productivity for the businesses that cause them – something these firms are genuinely unaware of.

How would you like to put in place a solution that can reduce these problems? And at the same time:

  • save business and government alike a great deal of time and money

  • build lasting partnerships between government, business and the community

  • build real skills in all these sectors, contributing to the knowledge economy

  • and make a real difference for the environment!

Environmental training programmes provide just this solution.

In my book you can find out the secrets of success from a highly successful environmental training programme of nearly 20 years duration. It sets out step by step what you need to do to set up an environmental training programme that is long-lived, effective and highly acclaimed. My book and its accompanying free resources will take you though a step-by-step process to set up environmental training programmes that make a measurable difference to these and other environmental issues.

My book comes out of 30 years of hands-on experience. I’ve worked with local and national governments, factories, farms, mines, first peoples and big construction sites – but I got out of sewage treatment before I fell in!

Check out some of these life-changing results that I’ve seen environmental training deliver:

  • a labourer who got interested in the environment and ended up leading an environmental team – a promotion he would never otherwise have gained;

  • a civil contracting firm that overcame its record of environmental prosecutions and tripled its turnover in four years solely as a result of its excellent environmental training;

  • a manufacturer whose literacy training formed the basis of a surge of technical and environmental innovation from its staff;

  • a digger driver whose innovative environmental protection methods saw him personally named in clients’ requests for tenders; and

  • a construction firm that got such good results from its in-house training so much that it set up its own accredited training arm to deliver nationally-recognised environmental and other qualifications to make sure its staff were the best…

Life-long learning builds sustainable businesses – firms that are in business for good.

Who needs this book?

My book will add value for any agency delivering long-term environmental training programmes within their own organisation or for other organisations, for example:

  • government agencies

  • businesses

  • utilities

  • professional and trade associations

  • indigenous peoples and community groups

  • tertiary and vocational educators and trainers.

Government agencies and environmental regulators: you can use my book to develop and enhance the education and training programmes that you run or support, and to work constructively with stakeholders to develop some new ones.

Businesses, utilities and professional and trade associations: you can use my book to help set up environmental training for your own staff and subcontractors. You can also have input to government-sponsored environmental training programmes for businesses in order to make sure that your needs and constraints are well understood. In this way you will strengthen their relevance and effectiveness for all parties.

Indigenous peoples and community groups: you can use this book to set up your own environmental training programmes for specific target audiences, such as people doing on-the-ground environmental work.

Supply chain managers: my book will help any organization wanting to include sustainability in its supply chains and procurement policies. It will help you take a training approach to building the environmental capacity of your existing and prospective service providers.

Tertiary and vocational educators and trainers: the skills you bring to the table will encourage people to work with you to develop truly excellent training.

What others say

“I love the layout, principles, and your conversational style. It is a gem and I’ll spread the word.”
Professor Mark Hostetler, Department of Wildlife Ecology & Conservation, IFAS, University of Florida, USA

“Clare’s presentation was edgy, informative and refreshingly un-PC.” Anonymous

“I was really impressed with your presentation… such huge potential for making a real difference to environmental outcomes.”
Jenny Baker, ECO (Environment & Conservation Organisations of Aotearoa)

How environmental training lifts business performance, creates jobs and restores people and places

Are you worried that requiring companies to improve their environmental performance will cost jobs? Be reassured that it won’t. In 1995, Michael Porter wrote his seminal Harvard Business Review article (see all references below). In it he and co-author Claas van der Linde said, “How an industry responds to environmental problems may be a leading indicator in its overall competitiveness … Only those companies that innovate successfully will win. A truly competitive industry is more likely to take up a new standard as a challenge and respond to it with innovation.”

Nothing has changed since then. In fact, more and more evidence continues to emerge in support of what’s become known as the ”Porter Hypothesis”. Amongst the vicissitudes of the recession and as the world works its way to a more beneficial economic model, green jobs offer hope to people, communities and economies, as the following examples show:

  • 15-60 million jobs globally could be needed by 2032 in the transition to a ‘green economy’ (from a 2012 base) , according to the International Labour Organisation (ILO), in its report “Working towards sustainable development: Opportunities for decent work and social inclusion in a green economy”. These jobs could lift tens of millions of workers out of poverty while improving social and environmental outcomes

  • macroeconomist Josh Bivens investigated the employment effects of the December 2011 US law approving environmental regulations to reduce emissions of mercury, arsenic and other toxic metals, in a 2012 Brief for the Economic Policy Institute, a non-partisan think tank in Washington District Council. The Act could prevent up to 11,000 premature deaths each year and deliver many other health benefits, but pre-passage, a lot of people were concerned it would ‘kill jobs’. When Bivens investigated it in detail, he found that far from killing jobs, the ‘toxics rule’ – just one piece of legislation – could create over 100,000 jobs in the US by 2015

Bivens’ message for us all is that ‘going green won’t kill jobs during hard times’: when the economy is doing well, environmental regulation has no effect on job growth; but when it isn’t, such regulation is very likely to create jobs. These days, we need more jobs – and green jobs most of all. Everywhere we look, we find the evidence that valuing and restoring our natural and human assets will build a better economy. And, of course, we need good environmental training to get people upskilled into these green jobs!

What’s more, a recent article in New Scientist magazine reported that the ‘green economy has grown so much in the US that it employs around 10 times as many people as the fossil fuel industry – despite the past decade’s oil and gas boom. It’s ‘good’ growth!

Environmental experts and expert trainers: changing the world

Many organizations such as government environmental agencies, utilities, corporations and not-for-profits find they need to carry out environmental training. Many of them also have professional experts already on their staff who can deliver it.

Trainers call these invaluable people ‘subject matter experts’.

But training is a serious profession, as I found out for myself many years ago when I attended my first ‘Train the Trainer’ workshop to prepare myself to develop and deliver a major environmental training programme. It was scary being exposed to a big field of knowledge I knew very little about, and I immediately recognized I needed to take this new learning on board.

Let me introduce myself. My name is Clare Feeney and I am The Sustainability Strategist and founder of the Environment and Sustainability Strategy and Training Institute. I have worked in the environmental field for over 30 years, with a particular focus on environmental education and training for businesses. My technical work in watershed management, industrial waste minimization and resource efficiency, streambank restoration, sewage and stormwater management, environmental evaluation and many other areas has made me one of those ‘subject matter experts’.

I realized I had to become a trainer as well as an environmental manager when staff of an environmental regulatory agency asked me to help them develop a major training programme. So I joined the local branch of the Association of Training and Development and it was one of the best moves I ever made!

I was so impressed by the benefits of environment training that I presented a conference paper way back in 1999 on three totally different environmental training programmes I’d been working on. These were for people handling household hazardous waste, inspecting and certifying septic tanks, and carrying out erosion and sediment control on large construction sites. My paper won Third Prize in the Paper of the Year category – the first time a non-technical paper had received such an award in that professional association’s then 41 years of history.

Eleven years later, I presented a more detailed paper on the erosion and sediment control training programme at a conference in Vancouver Canada in 2010.

When that programme started my co-trainer and I thought there might be two or three years of training to deliver, then everyone would be trained and we could stop.

What actually happened turned out to be quite different: 15 years later, the programme was still going and had been endorsed by major government agencies that require their service providers to attend. Moreover this highly successful programme has – like the programmes we looked at when starting out – inspired a number of similar programmes around the country.

We’ve even had people from other countries attend our workshops to find out what we do.

We created a ‘premier’ programme! Michael Frankcombe, then President of the International Erosion Control Association of Australasia said it’s ‘the premier programme in our region bar none’. Mike was talking about good examples of soil and water management programmes at a local and state government level in Australia – and it was a New Zealand programme – ours – that he’d named! This is high praise indeed – the Australians, like the Americans, are doing wonderful work.

We created a new profession!

The training programme and the wider erosion and sediment control programme in which it sits have been so successful that we ended up creating a whole new profession: environmental managers on large construction sites. These highly skilled people move freely between development, engineering design and contracting companies, as well as environmental regulatory agencies and specialist consulting firms. I’ve seen over the years how this exchange of knowledge and perspective adds tremendous value to each of these organisations.

We won a major award!

My co-trainer Brian Handyside and I were jointly awarded the ‘Outstanding Contribution Award’ in 2009 by the New Zealand Association of Resource Management (NZARM) for our work in training and building relationships with the heavy construction industry. This occasional award is not given out every year, and we were both overwhelmed with this recognition from our peers.

It was out of all this experience that I decided to write this book. As I wrote the first edition, it became a much bigger project than I imagined: once I started writing, I realized how much more we’d learned since I wrote those all-too-brief conference papers. Now the second edition is out and the need for the book is even more urgent than it was.

The global impetus has accelerated and there are many new initiatives out there now to support you as you set up the environmental training programmes you need.

What others say

“At a time when evidence is coming thick and fast as to the environmental damage humans are inflicting on the planet to be able to sustain life, we need practical ways to respond. Adult learning and education, of which environmental education and training is a crucial part, are vital in our individual and collective responses. This manual supports trainers and educators to know what to do, while deepening their understandings of the root causes of the problem. I welcome warmly this very helpful resource and trust many will put it to urgent use!!”
Professor Emerita Shirley Walters, Adult and Continuing Education, University of the Western Cape, South Africa

“In ‘How to Change the World: A Practical Guide to Successful Environmental Training’, Clare makes environmental training accessible and impactful for you, the reader, and your audience. She successfully provides a framework for transitioning abstract ideas into practical realities. This book sets the standard as optical lens for environmental training programmes.”
Dwane Jones, Ph.D. Acting Dean of the College of Agriculture, Urban Sustainability, Environmental Sciences (CAUSES) + International Trainer for NGICP, University of the District of Columbia, Washington, DC

“I thoroughly enjoyed your session and learnt information that I hope to apply in my own workplace.”
Dr Coral Pepper from Edith Cowan University in Western Australia

What’s in the book?

My book brings together three major disciplines: professional and vocational training; environmental management; and methods from both these two worlds for measuring the outcomes of your programmes.

I have a ‘thing’ about programme monitoring and evaluation. So my book tells you how to set up your environmental management and environmental training programmes in such a way that you can actually measure your programme’s implementation and outcomes! This is something that environmental managers and trainers alike really struggle with.

So in the book and the associated free Action Planner workbook you will find a simple and robust approach to programme planning: it’s called logic modelling. I’ve made it even better for environmental purposes by incorporating into it a framework for monitoring outcomes that is endorsed by the United Nations Environment Programme.

The logic model and outcomes framework will help you build a 1-page diagram that can:

  • involve all your stakeholders in its preparation

  • explain your entire programme to anyone

  • enable ongoing monitoring of your environmental management programme’s outcomes and cost-effectiveness, including of the training component.

But you need to ask two hard questions before you get that far:

  • is training the solution to your environmental problem?

  • why should your organization do the training? That is, can, should or will anyone else do it instead?

Be sure that if you don’t ask these questions your managers will.

My book will help you answer these questions. More than that it will help you:

  • find partners within and beyond your organization

  • make a compelling case for the needs and benefits of your training

  • understand your trainees and their learning needs

  • develop training content and delivery that works for you

  • measure the success of your training

  • gain long term resourcing and support for your programme.

The most fundamental and important of the seven elements of successful training programmes is Partnership. My book will help you identify the partners within your own organization who have an interest in the outcomes your training could deliver.

And you will feel reassured about engaging with external partners when you read about a major training programme that was outstandingly successful right from the start – despite the need to comply with a new environmental performance standard that was backed up by legal enforcement.

What surprised us most about the use of enforcement on major construction sites in Auckland was the relief felt by responsible operators. They were unanimously glad that the ‘fly-by-night’ operators who undercut prices by avoiding or skimping on environmental controls were finally being called to account.

Any responsible industry wants a good environmental track record, and its members will welcome great training backed up by the other supporting elements of a robust environmental management programme.

And it’s your external and internal partners who will be the ones whose support will keep your training programme alive and exciting for many years.

Why good environmental training benefits businesses and communities

Among the many things I’ve learned from my association with many successful environmental training programmes is that they are good for everyone involved:

  • businesses benefit because good environmental management saves considerable time and money otherwise wasted in responding to environmental incidents instead of doing productive work for their customers

  • businesses with good environmental systems are usually all-round good operators that are more profitable than their less responsible industry peers

  • environmental regulators benefit from gaining a better understanding of business pressures and drivers, and can help firms comply with the law in ways that add business value

  • communities – who often demand that environmental regulators and businesses deliver better environmental performance – benefit from seeing ongoing environmental problems progressively addressed in ways that the whole community can enjoy.

Case studies of successful environmental training programmes

My book includes case studies of some very different environmental training programmes including two in-depth comparative case studies of erosion and sediment control in two different countries, one of them the USA.

It also has shorter case studies of the many different ways successful environmental training can be delivered to address issues as diverse as:

  • civil construction

  • streambank planting

  • water utility operations

  • environmental restoration by an indigenous tribe.

Why there’s never been a better time for environmental training

We are living in times of great urgency and uncertainty for businesses and government agencies alike. At the same time, we’re also experiencing a global skills shortage. That’s why it’s a great time for businesses to take the opportunity to train their staff: it will grow your organizational capability and agility at a time when we’ve never needed it more.

And at times of full employment, people are more confident to move jobs to work employers with values they endorse – and social and environmental values are at the top of the list for the best staff.

As Zig Ziglar says, ‘There’s only one thing worse than training your staff and having them leave, and that’s NOT training them and having them stay.’

Environmental training can create new business opportunities, and inspires staff to come up with creative ideas.

Even better ideas can emerge when businesses, communities and government agencies get together on environmental issues and identify solutions, including training. Some of the solutions may make a difference to a surprising range of problems.

So…. let’s think about training now to head off intensifying environmental and social problems.

Free resources to help you

  • Are you surrounded by lots of little scraps of paper with ‘To Do’ lists on them?

  • Do you have ideas scattered across countless office files?

  • Have you put off researching and reporting on the potential of an environmental training programme because it’s just too daunting?

Using my book you can now break down your research and reporting into a series of straightforward steps – and you can keep all your thinking in one place: in the free Action Planner that accompanies my book.

The Action Planner contains:

  • four spider diagrams to help you work out which actions you might want to take first

  • 45 worksheets from which you can choose to work on your priority action needs

  • mindmap pages for open thinking – or the doodling you do while thinking creatively.

You will can also download 30 other free resources from the Toolbox, including:

  • diagnostics to help you work out where you are and where you want to go with your training

  • long-range and per-workshop logistics checklists

  • workshop evaluation sheets

  • attendance certificates

…..and much, much more.

Using the Action Planner and other free resources, you will be able to capture all the information, ideas and learnings you generate as you set up, run and review your environmental training programme – this will be your gift to posterity – the people who will follow in your footsteps over time!

There are also free e-books that expand upon some of the case studies and other things discussed in the book – click here to find them.

Oh, and you may get a chuckle or two from the page of recipes.

What others say

“Your book arrived on Thursday so I grabbed it and a wine and started reading after dinner. Big mistake. I only read a chapter or so and my brain was buzzing all night and over the weekend with ideas. I have downloaded the Action Planner. I am excited to read the rest of it and develop a program in my locality.”Janine Koppel, Lake Macquarie City Council, New South Wales, Australia

“More and more organisations are realising that now is the time to take sustainability seriously. But how do you shift from business as usual to business that contributes to a positive collective future? In this fully updated version of her guide to environmental training, Clare Feeney shows organisations a way in. The guide is packed with inspiring case-studies, lively writing and, best of all, a series of steps, tools and web-based resources to enable any organisation to improve its environmental performance. Clare’s depth of experience and wisdom on good environmental practice and how to encourage people to commit to it shines through on every page.”
Niki Harré, Professor, School of Psychology, University of Auckland, author of Psychology for a better world: Working with people to save the planet.

Why did I write this book?

I wrote the first edition of this book to save others from making expensive mistakes or to allow them replicate our carefully-planned success. I’d just written my second conference paper on environmental training and my client’s organization was about to go one of the most far-reaching political re-organizations in my country’s history – and I wanted to tell the story of its training programmes in case the knowledge dispersed with the inevitable diaspora of staff that would – and did – follow.

As I wrote I realized more and more clearly that the world of training and the world of environmental management have such a lot to offer each other and the everyday world we all live in.

Friends and colleagues asked me if the second edition was trying to do something bigger than environmental training. I’m so grateful to them: they helped me to articulate that it’s not that the book is trying to be something bigger than it is, but that environmental training is so much bigger than people realize. I wholeheartedly believe that environmental trainers really can help to save the world.

With this second edition of the book, I aim to elevate workforce training to its highest status: a powerful way of helping people to solve the serious environmental issues facing humanity, while at the same time solving their associated social, cultural and economic problems.

This book comes straight from the heart: I truly believe in the transformative potential of environmental training and want everyone to know about it!

This the most exciting thing I’ve ever done in my life – join in! All you have to do is click here to download your FREE copy of the value-packed Action Planner that accompanies my book.

Be a part of the book!

I’d love you to share any case studies, evaluations or resources that will help us all make all of our environmental training programmes a wild success. I will gladly acknowledge you as the source.

This material will go onto the page of free resources on my website, where people engaged in this vital work all over the world can access it. In this way, we’ll build a wonderful resource that will only increase in value over time.

With all my best wishes for your successful environmental training programme –

Clare Feeney

Want to find out more? Click to go the free resource page and here to buy the book.


Here are the sources of the references cited in the text on this page.

Michael E. Porter and C. van der Linde (1995) Green and competitive: ending the stalemate. Harvard Business Review, Sept–Oct. Available at https://hbr.org/1995/09/green-and-competitive-ending-the-stalemate [accessed 29 April 2019].

Josh Bivens (2012) Going green won’t kill jobs during hard times. New Scientist, 24 March.

Josh Bivens (2012) The ‘Toxics Rule’ and jobs: the job-creation potential of the EPA’s new rule on toxic power-plant emissions. Issue Brief #325 of the Economic Policy Institute, a non-partisan think tank in Washington DC, 17 February. Available at www.epi.org/publication/ib325-epa-toxics-rule-job-creation/ [accessed 5 June 2019].

Green Jobs Initiative (2012) Working towards sustainable development: opportunities for decent work and social inclusion in a green economy. A joint ILO/UNEP study published on 12 June. Available at www.ilo.org/global/publications/ilo-bookstore/order-online/books/WCMS_181836/lang–en/index.htm [accessed 5 June 2019].

International Labour Organization (2019) Working towards sustainable development: opportunities for decent work and social inclusion in a green economy. Available at www.ilo.org/global/publications/ilo-bookstore/order-online/books/WCMS_181836/lang–en/index.htm [accessed 16 September 2019].

Adam Vaughan (2019) US green economy has 10 times more jobs than the fossil fuel industry. New Scientist Issue 3252, page 16. The article is viewable at https://www.newscientist.com/article/2219927-us-green-economy-has-10-times-more-jobs-than-the-fossil-fuel-industry/ and the source article can be found at https://www.nature.com/articles/s41599-019-0329-3 [both accessed 3 November 2019].

UNEP/GPA (United Nations Environment Programme/Global Programme of Action for the Protection of the Marine Environment from Land-based Activities) (2006) Ecosystem-based management: markers for assessing progress. UNEP/GPA. Available at www.unenvironment.org/resources/report/ecosystems-based-management-markers-assessing-progress [accessed 5 June 2019].