Since ISSP was formed in 2007, the field of sustainability has attracted millions of people from a variety of backgrounds who are doing work in this field and claim the title “sustainability professional".  While the field has been enriched and informed by this diversity of expertise, it has also created inconsistency in practice and definition. We believe that in order for the field and its professionals to be taken seriously and be granted due credibility, there needs to be some definition and standardization of the competencies employers can come to expect.

With that goal in mind, ISSP has developed two professional credentials designed to provide coherence to the field of sustainability as well as recognize the knowledge, skills, and abilities sustainability professionals bring to their work. 

History of ISSP Certification

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  • In 2010, ISSP published The Sustainability Professional: 2010 Competency Survey Report, sharing the results of its 9-month research project on the core competencies of a sustainability professional.

  • In 2013, we published the first The Sustainability Professionals Body of Knowledge, which included the job task analysis that became the basis for the certification scheme, reflecting the input of ISSP members and other sustainability professionals  from around the world.

  • In 2014, our Spring survey of over 800 sustainability professionals showed that 70% were in favor of creating a certification. At its November 2014 meeting, the ISSP Board of Directors voted unanimously to create a certification for sustainability professionals in 2015.

  • In 2015, ISSP conducted a first round of Beta tests for the Sustainability Associate (ISSP-SA) and Certified Sustainability Professional (ISSP-CSP) credentialing programs. Over 160 members of the sustainability field participated in helping us refine the Certification process and bring it closer to a 2016 launch. We also conducted a Sustainability Hiring Survey to see what knowledge, skills and abilities were in demand for organizations looking to hire sustainability professionals.

  • In 2016, as a result of the high interest in our first round of Beta testing, ISSP conducted a second round of Beta testing for the Sustainability Associate (ISSP-SA) exam. We also launched an Education Partner Program to recognize organizations that provide high quality sustainability education and training, including newly developed preparatory courses for the ISSP Certification exams.

  • The ISSP-SA launched on November 15th, 2016, while the ISSP-CSP will launch in the first quarter of 2017.

  • During 2016 and 2017, ISSP convened over 30 subject matter experts, from 10 countries on 5 continents, to develop a more comprehensive repository of knowledge. The resulting ISSP-SA Study Guide, ISSP-SA Flash Cards, and ISSP-CSP Study Guide contain a deeper understanding of the body of knowledge for the sustainability profession.