Is your organisation currently thinking about sustainability or how it will rise to the challenge of net zero? Do you have a personal interest in sustainability or environmental, social and governance (ESG) objectives? Sustainability is increasingly becoming important to funding bodies, staff and volunteers as well as the great British public. The business world has already recognised this and is taking steps to integrate sustainability, and ESG reporting, into their day-to-day activities but the VCSE sector is lagging behind in this regard.
We want to change that, which is why we have created a Sustainability Champions Network – this network will be led by Hunts Forum and will offer our members practical advice, guidance and peer-to-peer support on how to integrate sustainability into your organisation at all levels. The first event will take place online on Thursday 26th May at 1:30pm-2:30pm and will be an introduction session to meet, discuss our aims and get a better understanding of how we want the network to develop going forward, we will also be giving you 3 practical steps your organisation can take to make an impact today.
We know that sustainability is a growing issue for the sector, and the world as whole. Some funding bodies are already asking for environmental plans as part of their grant application processes, particularly for capital grant programmes, and this trend is only likely to increase as we saw with EDI policy requirements previously.
“We want all our projects to do their very best to help mitigate against and adapt to the effects of our changing climate and to help nature recover. We expect the highest standards of environmental sustainability to be delivered by all the projects we fund.”
The National Lottery Heritage Fund
In addition, statutory bodies are also starting to consider their role in promoting sustainability, HDC are renewing their Environment and Climate Strategy this year with the ambition of a net Carbon Zero Huntingdonshire by 2040:
“The Environment and Climate Strategy will lead to the adoption of an Environmental Action Plan where we as a council aim to achieve net zero carbon by 2040. Along with taking steps we will seek to influence communities and businesses in the District to share, contribute and work towards a carbon zero Huntingdonshire by 2040.”
Huntingdonshire District Council
The NHS has already gone a step further and introduced a Standard Contract requirement for providers to produce a green plan, approved by their governing body, along with an annual summary of progress towards net zero in their 2020/21 contract. This is something we expect to see more and more of over the coming years as statutory bodies look to reduce their own carbon footprints, including any third-party contracted services.
Everything suggests that this is something your organisation needs to be thinking about now in order to get ahead of the curve. Sustainability isn’t something which you can apply a quick fix to, it takes time and energy, which is why we are asking you to share this within your organisation to help us find those sustainability champions. We aren’t necessarily looking for a network full of CEO’s and senior leaders, if they come along that’s great, but what we do need is a room full of people who already have the passion and desire to tackle it head-on and drive change, and in our experience they can come from anywhere within your organisation.
Book your place for our first online event: Thursday 26th May at 1:30pm-2:30pm
What is a Sustainability champion?
Anyone can be a sustainability champion, all you need is an interest or a desire to do something to help your organisation become more sustainable. You don’t need to be a manager or decision-maker within your organisation as we will give you the knowledge and tools you need to encourage change at all levels.
Why do we need a Sustainability Champions Network?
As anyone who has looked into sustainability will tell you, it can be a daunting and complex subject. It is easy to feel overwhelmed and unsure how to get started. That is where the value of the network comes in, it’s a chance to share advice, experience and ideas with others who are working towards a common goal.
What will happen at a Sustainability Champion Network event?
Our first event will be about getting to know each other, finding out where we are all in our sustainability journey, and our aims for the future of our organisations. We will discuss where we want the network to go and how often we want to meet. We will also be offering 3 practical steps your organisation can take today to start working towards being a more resilient and sustainable organisation.
As the network develops, our aim as the facilitator is to provide a framework which will empower you to drive change within your organisation. What that looks like will depend on what we decide as a group but there will always be time for discussion and we will utilise the power of our collective knowledge and experience to tackle any challenges members are currently working through as well as sharing successes along the way.
In the future we will also look to widen our knowledge by getting expert speakers involved and hearing case studies from organisations who have already taken steps in addressing the climate and nature emergency. By harnessing the experiences of those who are further down the road to sustainability than we are we can gain not only knowledge but inspiration and motivation as well.
What is the role of Hunts Forum in the Sustainability Champions Network?
Effectively we are in the same position as you. We have Oli, our very own Sustainability Champion, and we will be working to use the experience he gains from pushing for change in our own organisation to provide advice and support for our members who are looking to do something similar. Our hope is to build this knowledge into a framework which our members can work through. The ultimate aim is for us to become a more sustainable organisation and to encourage and others to do the same.
What do you need from me as a Sustainability Champion?
You don’t need any prior knowledge, experience of driving change within your organisation or even to commit a certain number of hours per week. All we ask is that you come along with an open-mind, a willingness to learn and grow and to support others to do the same. The network will develop to meet the needs of the group and the hope is we will work through the process together.