Coming Together to Tackle the Biggest Challenges Facing Our Professions

Given the symbiotic relationship between the climate change and sustainability professions, ACCO and ISSP face many of the same everyday trials and tribulations. 

We are at critical points in both the global climate crisis and the process of mainstreaming sustainability.  Our efforts are complicated by a dynamically changing environment, increasing number (and severity) of natural disasters, policy inaction and maladaptations, a workforce that is that is not sufficiently equipped or empowered to meet these challenges.  

So, how do we better prepare for these emerging and evolving realities while establishing best practices, standards and codes across all professional niches?  And how can we leverage this first Global Congress to address these challenges?

1. Defining a Climate Change or Sustainability Professional

Insights from ACCO: Organizations across sectors have tasked individuals with driving and implementing climate change initiatives for more than a decade. Despite the increasing human resources being devoted to climate action plans, greenhouse gas reduction efforts, resilience initiatives and climate adaptation, many professionals in those roles do not self identify as members of a formal and credentialed occupation. What’s more, this is further complicated by a lack of recognition by HR organizations and executive suites to emphasize the necessity of a professional with specialized climate change training. While ACCO has already brought hundreds of professionals together to develop and adopt the Core Competencies for Climate Change Officers and Professionals, a number of challenges to adoption include:

  • Getting professionals to see themselves as a member of the occupation of climate change leadership and understanding what that means for their career progression, professional development, etc.

  • Getting HR organizations to similarly recognize these competencies and to begin incorporating appropriate requirements and preferences in job descriptions (including prioritizing credentialed professionals)

  • Getting c-suite executives to recognize that climate change leadership is an executive function that needs to be placed appropriately in the leadership suite and properly resourced for success

Insights from ISSP:  In response to how interconnected the world has become, ISSP launched the world’s first globally recognized certification program for sustainability professionals in 2017. Two post-nominal credentials (ISSP-SA & ISSP-CSP) were developed through global collaboration by sustainability practitioners, for sustainability practitioners. Designed with rigorous international requirements in mind, the ISSP program provides third-party verification of competency in the profession. 

2. Establishing Global Standards and Best Practices

Insights from ACCO: If the implications of climate change manifest themselves differently from one region or sector to the next, how de we establish best practices and standards that are applicable across the board? Should professionals be leveraging methodologies that are flexible enough to account for geographic, sectoral and other variance?  

Insights from ISSP: ISSP believes that partnering across borders and around the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) is the key leverage point for systemic change. Just last month, ISSP unveiled an updated logo featuring the SDG’s branding to more publicly demonstrate ISSP’s support of the framework.

3. Effectively Communicating Across Regions, Sectors & Occupations

Insights from ACCO: The impacts of climate change on an organization or community can vary so significantly, communication efforts can be particularly challenging. How can professionals best communicate with their leadership and stakeholders?  What tools and resources do they need to inform communications that resonate based upon the values and priorities of their stakeholders? What responsibilities do professionals have in addressing environmental justice, social good and public awareness in the context of climate change? These are critically important areas for our members to address as agents of change and as leaders.

Insights from ISSP: With members hailing from all six of the inhabited continents, ISSP has several audiences with whom it must share its message. Moreover, as the workplace moves away from siloed corporate social responsibility (CSR) departments, more folks are identifying as sustainability professionals. ISSP recognizes anyone who spends at least 25 percent of their time helping make the world more regenerative as a sustainability professional, regardless of the type of business they work for or the title they hold. A quarter of one's working capacity isn't much, which effectively means that a large percentage of the global labor pool is engaged in creating values-driven products and services! The question remains--what narratives should we be sharing to inspire more professions to operate like ours?

4. Identifying And Delivering Core Needs 

Insights from ISSP/ACCO: Another challenge ISSP & ACCO face nearly every day is identifying and delivering the core needs that members and the community expect from the organization. Above all, members expect access to a community of peers, knowledge and learning resources, tools that facilitate their work, independent validation of their capabilities and work product, and professional development opportunities. 

ISSP & ACCO must successfully provide all of these things to members of our respective organizations while responding to an evolving marketplace and growing our communities of practice.

5. Rising Above The Noise (Prioritizing Climate Change & Sustainability vs. Other Emergent Issues)

Insights from ACCO: Organizations across sectors are facing an unprecedented number of transformational issues such as security conditions, cybersecurity threats, economic challenges and automation.  In an environment where politics, marketplace, technology and communication media and technology are dynamically changing, how do we get climate change addresses consistently as a top-tier priority?  Should climate action be woven in with other imperatives? Do leaders have a clear understanding of the costs of inaction or the opportunities being missed? As a community of practice, we’ll have to figure out how to rise above the noise to get climate change prioritized.

Insights from ISSP: With many folks taking the scare-tactic approach to messaging, consumers have become numb in so many ways. Greenwashing is also at historic levels and an on-going concern as more businesses and NGOs attempt to capitalize on the growing demand for products that are environmentally and socially responsible. So we are left wondering what level of urgency we should convey around our work. How does ISSP strike the right chord between motivating its constituents to engage without disenfranchising them? 

6. Sustaining Morale & Constructive Action in the Face of a Seemingly Impossible Mission

Insights from ACCO/ISSP: The news cycle is dominated by a series of what can only be construed as stressful or depressing stories.  Seemingly on a daily basis, a report emerges that paints a dire picture. Already, climate change and sustainability professionals face a daunting task as the agents of change trying to drive the unprecedented transformation required in their organizations and communities.  How do we sustain morale, drive constructive action and build a strong sense of a successful path forward? What are the best ways to convince leaders and stakeholders that this is not only imperative, but also an opportunity?

ACCO and ISSP face both similar challenges and very different sets of challenges in our communities of practice. In understanding each others’ challenges, we can better work together within our communities - and within each other’s communities - to overcome these struggles and effectively communicate to a wider audience.

Join us this December to help us examine and find solutions to these challenges and so many more. We need your help, now more than ever.

Why We Are Hosting this Congress & How We See the Congress as a Critical Pivot for Our Communities of Practice

We are at a critical point in our efforts to drive the unprecedented transformation called for by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) and achieve the UN Sustainable Development Goals.  Tens of thousands of professionals, in organizations across multiple sectors, are leading and supporting increasingly bold efforts to transform their operations. From day-to-day decisions to big-picture goals, everyone is making huge strides toward a more climate-prepared and sustainable future world.

While the goals and the emphasis are getting greater, it’s clear that we need to invest in maturing the fields of practice, the efforts of our members and improve the resources our communities rely upon to inform their work.  ACCO and ISSP have spent considerable resources over the years shaping competencies through training and credentialing programs, among other actions, and we are both looking to take that next evolutionary step. To do so, we recognized our need to host a large convening of like-minded members to focus on the issues that are hurdles and key opportunities for our communities.

The Format Matters

American Author, Motivational Speaker and Blogger Rachel Hollis nailed it when she said:

“A conference is powerful because you’re immersed. That’s something you can’t get anywhere else. You have to be immersed in a space with a bunch of like-minded people in order to have that moment of...Wait a minute, what if… What-ifs only happen when you’re immersed long enough to strip away the normal, everyday narrative that rules our lives.”   

This is precisely the type of experience we will deliver to Congress attendees and sponsors, local elected officials, and business leaders. We want to tackle the hard questions and most pressing issues facing our membership, and produce conclusions that shape future programs and priorities for ACCO, ISSP and our members.  

We also want to challenge how our respective fields are operating, and to reveal how we might pivot and accelerate the shift to a more just and climate change-prepared way of living.   

A Program Informed & Designed by Our Membership

In order to ensure that we shape a program whose themes and topics resonate with you, we have formed a planning council with more than 30 practitioners from our communities, issued a call for topics that generated more than 100 submissions, and conducted two virtual town halls in which more than 60 practitioners participated.

We have already received a great set of recommendations from our respective communities.  Here are three examples of the types of topic suggestions we received through this process:

  • A staff member from a large city shared how budget constraints are the biggest issues facing city officers like herself, and how we must keep our collective work from being seen as unnecessary and cost prohibitive.

  • The head of a consulting firm indicated that market research, strategic communications and effective channeling are critical to how decision-makers in both the public and private sectors prioritize and attribute resources to sustainability.

  • Several town hall participants indicated that ACCO and ISSP should work to get a standard occupational (NAICS) code with the U.S. Department of Labor for our respective professions, and should work to advise peer credentialing bodies on incorporating climate change and sustainability into their codes of ethics and standards of conduct.

Next week, we will announce a detailed set of track themes and session topics you can expect to see at the Congress. These themes will help define more than ever the exact issues you and your peers have identified as needing immediate attention. Together, we can find solutions, and design - and then implement - the best way to tackle these issues head-on. It can’t be done alone; we need to join forces as a convening body for the greatest impact.

Where You Come In - Contributing to the Event

Your preparation for and follow up from the event will be as important as your engagement. The goal is to not just invest in ourselves, but in our occupations and the elevation thereof. And that does not happen overnight.

Here’s what you can do:

  1. Register today to attend the Congress

  2. Help us get the word out about the Congress and why it’s important

  3. Participate in the next sets of virtual town halls and online discussions we will host  

  4. Follow us on social media (@ClimateOfficers & @ISSP_Org) and look for the hashtag #GlobalCongress

  5. Learn about sponsorship opportunities

If you are not interested in these objectives or approaching your work differently, this might not be the conference for you.

If you are, if this opportunity excites you and you want to have more of an impact, we will see you in December!

Shape Your Congress - Join Our Virtual Town Halls

We want YOUR help for the Global Congress for Climate Change & Sustainability Professionals!

Join ACCO and ISSP in helping build the Congress event YOU want to be a part of!


Thursday, May 23
5:30pm – 6:15 pm ET

What and Why:

The Global Congress for Climate Change & Sustainability Professionals is the first gathering at which ACCO and ISSP will be coming together to define and advance both professions.

This event won’t be like your typical conference – this virtual Town Hall event is the first indication of that. With the already enthusiastic response to our call for topics and a successful first Town Hall out of the way, we want to keep that momentum going. A virtual Town Hall meeting will give us a chance to share the vision of the Congress with you while giving you the chance to influence the development of the event’s agenda.

Register for the May 23 Virtual Town Hall to:

  • Discuss ideas about the most pressing concerns and challenges facing climate change and sustainability professionals

  • Be a part of the planning process by speaking firsthand with the Planning Council

  • Influence content at the Congress - What topics would you like covered? What would you like to takeaway? How can we make the event beneficial to you?

  • Witness and understand how this event is different from your standard conference-style event

Register for the town hall through
the button link at

Takeaways from the May 10 Virtual Town Hall Meeting:

On May 10, ACCO & ISSP gathered members of the Congress’ Planning Council and 25 cross-sector participants who provided first impressions and discussed submissions for topics and themes for the Congress. Some of the takeaways from this discussion included:

  • Leadership skills for sustainability professionals : “Sustainability professionals must be leaders, but will not be effective if they use conventional leadership practices. They need to understand different leadership models, understand themselves, and learn new tools for leading for change.”

  • How to boldly tell your sustainability story to engage stakeholders, inspire investors, and claim your competitive edge : “In a recent survey conducted by Mind Over Markets, sustainability professionals ranked “not telling their sustainability story well” as their second-highest concern…Identifying high-priority strategies and next steps for the climate change and sustainability communities of practice.”

  • Top-down and bottom-up strategies to gain engagement : “Educate, empower and equip practitioners to advance their efforts through engagement, learning, teaching & mentoring, Identifying high-priority strategies and next steps for the climate change and sustainability communities of practice”

  • How to prepare for the health effects of climate change : “Build support for the professions and professionals focused on climate change, resilience, sustainability & related themes, Lower the barriers and deepening the connections between sectors, individuals and other professions, Identifying high-priority strategies and next steps for the climate change and sustainability communities of practice”

  • The next climate resilience frontier: Small and mid sized cities : “Build support for the professions and professionals focused on climate change, resilience, sustainability & related themes, Lower the barriers and deepening the connections between sectors, individuals and other professions, Educate, empower and equip practitioners to advance their efforts through engagement, learning, teaching & mentoring”

While this only scratches the surface of what was covered at the first Town Hall event, if you feel there may be an unrepresented or under-represented topic, we especially want you at the next Town Hall meeting. Get your opinions represented and your voice heard before the agenda is set!



How to get involved:

If you want to be a part of the discussions shaping the Congress,
sign up for the virtual town hall through the registration button at

Because this is a virtual event, there is no need to show up anywhere –
simply log on at the appropriate time and you can help inform the event’s content.

Already an ACCO or ISSP member?

Even better. A major member benefit of both organizations is the ability to shape our events. Click here to let us know how you’d like to get involved.

Not an ACCO or ISSP member?

It's never too late to join. Both memberships offer benefits that span multiple professional niches –
no matter where your sustainability work takes you, an ACCO and/or ISSP membership can help you succeed and excel in your career.




Across every sector, region and occupation, bold actions and strong decisions must be made to adequately address climate change. It’s no longer enough to rely on others to make shifts or to just make changes in your personal life; every business and community has the duty to be a part of the discussion and solution.

Make your voice, your opinions, your experiences and all of your wants and needs heard. Attend a virtual Town Hall Meeting to build this year’s Global Congress for Climate Change & Sustainability Professionals.

Finally, be sure to join us this December to see your impact in action. Register today to get access through the early bird rates, the lowest we will offer for the Congress.

Everything you need to know about professional credentialing

What is professional credentialing and why is it important in every field?


The Association of Climate Change Officers (ACCO) and The International Society of Sustainable Professionals (ISSP) work hard to make sure every individual is informed and armed to successfully lead, design, implement and support climate change and/or sustainability initiatives in their workplace. Being recognized as leaders, experts and qualified professionals is critical to getting to hired, and critical to their success as change agents in the workplace. Professional credentialing is a key pillar in supporting and driving that recognition.

Both ACCO and ISSP have developed extensive credentialing programs supported by online study resources, in-person training and access to a wealth of resources and community of members that makes being an expert and leader of sustainable practices and climate action possible.

Here’s a summary of each organization’s existing credentials:

Through ACCO, you can

Become a Certified Climate Change Professional® (CC-P®). The Certified Climate Change Professional® (CC-P®) is the credential for mid-level practitioners. It reflects your dedication to professional development and your competency in the fundamentals of climate change preparedness and strategic planning in your field.  A combination of related work experience and completion of a series of core curriculum courses and elective requirements - online and during workshop-style, in-person events - is required to become a (CC-P®). The Certified Climate Change Professional® (CC-P®) credential is currently available for practitioners across all sectors and professional functions. ACCO will announce additional credentials in the near future.

Through ISSP, you can

Become an ISSP Sustainability Associate (for individuals who are new to sustainability or those in allied professions such as purchasing, HR,  and facilities management who incorporate sustainability thinking into their work) and then progress to a ISSP Certified Sustainability Professional (for veteran sustainability professionals with five or more years of experience working in the sustainability field).  Earning an ISSP credential opens up career opportunities for sustainability professionals and also helps businesses and organizations find the best members of the field. To obtain an ISSP credential, you must pass a proctored, multiple choice exam at local testing centers or online for your convenience.  

How will getting credentialed help me become a better climate change or sustainability professional?


ACCO and ISSP credentialing focuses upon your ability to understand the most relevant and pressing climate change and sustainability problems facing our professional lives every day. The education and training materials that both organizations provide ensure that you are ready, willing and able to lead and support climate change and sustainability initiatives in the public, private and non-profit sectors. The testing and qualifications needed to earn your credential are an important trial to help you along your journey and will equip you to face the questions and challenges you may face in the workplace as an agent of change.

Taking sensible and effective climate action and achieving your career aspirations, and your organization’s climate change and sustainable development goals, requires developing a system of thinking that enables you and your fellow professionals to forecast plausible scenarios, understand their implications and take bold action.

Become a leader in your field


One of the most important factors of both ACCO and ISSP’s credentialing programs is the ability to not only see and understand risks and opportunities, but to be a driven leader with the leadership and management skills critical to successful transformation and implementation. Not only will professional credentialing give you the confidence and skills to identify the challenge, but will give you the stature and recognition as a leader and an expert that:

  • Understands and can communicate climate change and sustainability related topics to diverse audiences;

  • Current on the most current issues, tools, policies and techniques related to your field of practice;

  • Applies systems thinking in developing climate change and/or sustainability solutions; and

  • Plans, implements and evaluates the integration of climate change and/or sustainability into your organizational culture, processes, programs and results.

How does it work?

Your first step is to examine your eligibility and the program requirements:

Your next step is to register for training and testing access:

Once you’re ready to begin your training, either find an in-person event or workshop near you or consult the available online study resources and begin preparing for your exams. Starting your path to becoming a credentialed professional is simple, and it starts with a commitment to complete the process one step at a time.

BONUS: ACCO and ISSP have some of the most diverse, skilled, high-level members making up their communities. When you decide to take part in a professional credentialing program, you get access to plenty of useful resources but you also have the opportunity to meet and work with an immeasurably advantageous community of members. Learn with them and from them to continue your training, even after your credentialing is complete.

It’s never too late to gain a professional credentialing and open up doors in your own career and in the work of your peers.

Why is professional credentialing important for you?

Beyond your desire to be a more effective practitioner and to take decisive action to advance your career path, a professional credential shows employers, clients, and peers that you are recognized by a credible standard-bearer as a qualified professional and serious about your work. A professional credential is a stamp of excellence that can help you get hired and earn more in any position.

From a business perspective, look for professionals with a credentialing certification to be sure that your hire is qualified, serious and will achieve success.

Professional credentialing goes beyond just one position and just one sector. Become an ACCO or ISSP (or both!) certified professional to see a dramatic difference in your career and your organization’s climate change and sustainability journey.

Ready to become certified? Register for ACCO credentialing here or ISSP credentialing here.

ACCO & ISSP Are Bringing Our Communities of Practice Together

Announcing the Global Congress for Climate Change & Sustainability Professionals

Why We Are Coming Together to Take Action & What You Can Expect


The Global Congress for Climate Change & Sustainability Professionals is a first-of-its-kind opportunity for professionals in any field to advance their occupation in a number of ways. Bringing together climate change and sustainability professionals, this Congress offers you the chance to come together for discussions specifically centered around making certain occupational advances.

The Association of Climate Change Officers (ACCO) and the International Society of Sustainability Professionals (ISSP) have partnered together for this unique convening … we are better together!

Be a part of this Congress for the chance to address:

  • enhancing your own professional stature,

  • establishing practice standards,

  • streamlining climate change and sustainability into planning, design and decision-making

  • advancing credentialing,

  • improving your ability to communicate with leadership and relevant stakeholders,

  • elevating leadership positions for yourself and your peers,

  • increasing recognition of the value of your field, and

  • informing improvements to decision-support and technical resources.

What you’ll gain - Take action for climate change

A key driver for this Congress is the chance to make strides with peers on on common battles, gaps or goals in elevating your own stature and the overall field of practice. The value you’ll gain at this year’s Congress goes beyond any other convening in the green space.

We are better together, and you have an important opportunity to be a part of is a community of leaders and stakeholders whom you can truly collaborate with and learn from all in one place in a series of facilitated and interactive face-to-face meetings.

At the Global Congress for Climate Change and Sustainability Professionals, you will have two communities of practice joining forces to prepare practitioners for success in achieving their career objectives and achieving climate change and sustainability goals.

There has never been a time more urgent than now to converge with your peers across sectors. Climate change is not coming tomorrow, it is happening now. Our sustainable development goals need to be implemented today.

We need to arm our communities and businesses with the leadership and workforce needed to successfully tackle these challenges — the Global Congress for Climate Change & Sustainability Professionals will spur that on.

Who are your climate change and sustainability experts?

ACCO and ISSP are two organizations and communities of practice both of whom have extensive knowledge and influence in the climate and sustainability sectors. Our communities consist of climate change and sustainability professionals share a passion for future success in their professional endeavors, their organization’s initiatives and for the rapidly expanding fields of practice.

We have gathered some of the best and brightest leaders from our respective communities to establish a planning council that will shape this important Congress. Their presence and participation at this Congress will anchor a broader group of professionals coming together to collaborate with high-level stakeholders and individuals from diverse backgrounds and multiple sectors to make meaningful progress together on advancing the fields of climate change and sustainability.


The Association of Climate Change Officers is the premier professional development organization and cross-sector community of practice. Specifically for individuals addressing climate change in their organizations’ operations and mission, an ACCO membership fosters collaboration with leading edge practitioners, policy makers, climate scientists and researchers to advance solutions and build capacity in addressing climate change.

Among many other things, one can expect a diverse community of peers which includes thought leaders and decision makers across multiple sectors and industries. Members collaborate through online training and at in-person events that cover a range of topics including climate change preparedness, supply chain management, energy strategies, organizational change, and emerging policy.

ACCO’s original and third party research allows members to constantly be growing and participating in the latest climate change capacities while credentialing through the Certified Climate Change Professional® program takes it even one step further.

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The International Society of Sustainability Professionals envisions a world where sustainability is standard practice.

Working to do this by empowering professionals to advance sustainability in organizations and communities around the globe, this professional association improves the skills of sustainability practitioners through education, knowledge sharing, research, and professional credentials.

Individuals join ISSP to be a part of a professional organization building individual and collective knowledge in the highly dynamic and constantly developing field of sustainability.  In-person and virtual member events provide networking opportunities with sustainability professionals across all industries and sectors around the globe. Organizations join ISSP to make a visible commitment to advancing global sustainability, bring their services and knowledge to ISSP members, and provide individual memberships for their staff.

Webinars, online courses, a sustainability professional certification, sustainability professional’s body of knowledge, special reports, resource directories, salary surveys and the ISSP Sustainability Professional Certification Program are just a sampling of the vast range of content offered to members.

The location for the Congress is …

ACCO and ISSP have chosen Chicagoland as the location for this year’s Congress. The Westin Northwest will serve as the venue.

Chicago is ideally situated in the center of the United States, making it convenient for out-of-town attendees to fly in from anywhere in the country, and is a hub airport for international travel. Aside from its location, a leadership group of practitioners in the region have already stepped up to support the Congress. The city has also poised itself in a position to build climate change resilience and sustainable infrastructure and practices that is further ahead of many other major cities in the country.

See you there

See you in Chicago December 9 - 12 at The Westin Chicago Northwest, with convenient access to Chicago’s O’Hare International Airport for an event that ACCO and ISSP are confident will bring the best and brightest climate change and sustainability professionals from .

Discuss, plan and implement goals that will help you advance you on your own climate change and sustainability career path, as well as to elevate those around you. The time is now to come together as a field to achieve sustainable, healthy, secure and prosperous communities and businesses. Are you ready to take action?