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New IPMA Competence Baseline Supports Sustainabilty!

In May of this year, we signed a collaboration agreement with the International Project Management Association (IPMA) during the launch of the Malaysian Project Management Awards which is a national version of the IPMA Awards and GPM Awards.

Seeing the growing interest in sustainability in project management, we were very pleased to have the opportunity to support the development of their new Individual Competence Baseline (ICB) which was released this month at their World Congress in Panama.

The new ICB, which is a FREE download, is a big step up from version 3.0.  We won’t ruin all the surprises as it is a great tool, but the three domains Perspective, People, and Practice make it very clear to discern the context for the competence elements and the key competence indicators.

For example: Under Perspective, element “Compliance, standards, and regulation” it states for programmes that it is important to Identify, and ensure that the programme complies with relevant sustainability principles and objectives.  

What are Sustainability Principles?

Sustainability principles can be viewed from many contexts.  We promote six core principles for sustainability from a project management perspective as the following:

GPM Sustainability Principles

The GPM Sustainabiltiy principles are based on ISO 26000 (Social Responsibility) , the Earth Charter, the UN Global Compact 10 Principles and UN PRME’s 6 Principles

ICB Measures

The individual is able to assess the impact of the programme on the environment and society. Realising his or her responsibility, the individual researches, recommends and applies measures to limit or compensate negative consequences. The individual follows (or even exceeds) guidelines and rules on sustainable development coming from within the organisation and from the wider society, and is able to realise a workable balance between the demands of society, impacts to the eco-environment and the economy. The individual understands that sustainability aspects, measures and attitudes often vary in different countries and cultures. 

The identified measures are:

  • Identifies the social and environmental consequences of the programme
  • Defines and communicates the sustainability targets for the programme and its outcomes
  • Aligns objectives with organisational strategy for sustainability
  • Balances the demands of society, the environment and the economy (people, planet, profit) with programme processes and products (editor note: this is in-line with our GPM P5 Standard for Sustainability in Project Management)
  • Encourages the development and diffusion of environmentally friendly technologies

“Sustainability must be imbued into every project – this much is clear in 2015. As a standard of competence, the ICB4 recognizes the critical role of sustainability practices in competence.  In another few years, we believe that sustainability will become part of the iron triangle – right up there with scope, cost and schedule.” – Tim Jaques, ICB development team

It goes without saying that the inclusion of sustainability in the new ICB will raise the bar for projects and programmes on a global scale and to be done in a collaborative manner is an indicator that IPMA is not only including sustainability in its standards, it is moving forward based on its principles.


International Project Management Association (IPMA) (2015). Individual Competence Baseline, version 4.0
GPM Sustainability Principles for Sustainable Change Delivery

Dr. Joel Carboni

Dr. Joel Carboni has over 24 years of experience in project, program, and portfolio management, having led Aerospace, Finance, Government, and Technology initiatives. He has a Ph.D. in Sustainable Development and Environment, is a Certified Senior Project Manager (IPMA Level B®), and Certified Green Project Manager (GPM®). He is the founder and president of GPM Global and the President Emeritus of the International Project Management Association USA (IPMA-USA) He is a medal of honor recipient from Universidad Autonoma Lisboa, AI Media's Leading Advisor Award 2017, the 2015 World CSR Congress Leadership Award, 2014 HRD Leadership & Training Award, and 2013 IPMA Achievement Award. He has lectured on or taught sustainable project management in 50 countries worldwide.

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