London seminar mainstreaming_the_environment
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  • 1. Mainstreaming the environment? Third sector action on climate change and environmental sustainability
    Dr Rebecca Edwards,
    TSRC, University of Southampton
  • 2. About the research
    Part of the TSRC, research stream on ‘environment and the third sector’
    Comprising three interconnected projects
    Mapping the environmental third sector
    Mainstreaming the environment
    Innovations in low carbon practices
    Who we are…
  • 3. Mainstreaming the environment
    What we are investigating:
    How the third sector is engaging with the environment
    Role of environmental performance management tools
    Mainly driven by an inductive approach
    Phase I research included:
    Documentary analysis
    24 interviews
    Content analysis > discourse analysis
    Participation in events
  • 4. Initial findings – mainstreaming the environment (1)
    Third sector (in theory) uniquely placed:
    ‘In the UK, the third sector holds the key to creating a new politics of climate change. The environmental community has been the dominant actor within the sector to date. But this is not simply an environmental issue. We must now unleash the full power of the sector…. The continuing trend towards less interventionist government and transferring responsibilities to individuals and communities makes new approaches even more imperative. This trend is apparent across the political spectrum’ (Hale 2010: 23) – also see Hale (Green Alliance) 2008
  • 5. Initial findings – mainstreaming the environment (2)
    Building momentum
    Government and third sector task force
    Charity Commission advice
    Umbrella organisations’ advice
    Initiatives from major TSOs
    Funders e.g. City Bridge Trust, Baring Foundation, Big Lottery Fund
  • 6. Initial findings – mainstreaming the environment (3)
    • Some organisations are engaging with the environment – inspirational examples
    • 7. Difficult for third sector organisations to meet the challenge
    • 8. Lack of grassroots action
    • 9. Unclear direction (especially from government)
    • 10. Very likely that all sectors will have to respond – third sector can set agenda
    • 11. Potential for advocating collectively, both nationally and locally?
  • Role of environmental performance management tools
    Is there a way that TSOs can mainstream the environment by using a tool to analyse how?
    Are EPMTs a good way to engage?
    Can organisations demonstrate their added environmental value in the same way as their added social value?
  • 12. Initial findings – environmental performance management tools (1)
    Many ‘eco-audit’ type approaches, but how suitable are they?
    Existing tools are inappropriate for many, especially small TSOs
    However, some have found them to be instrumental in understanding where they can make a genuine difference and transforming organisational culture
  • 13. Initial findings – environmental performance management tools (2)
    Often TSOs are low impact organisations – but need to think about their added value
    Important for TSOs to define their added environmental value, especially in terms of service delivery
    Potential for sector to define what it is doing in terms of the environment – rather than it being imposed
  • 14. Innovating low carbon practices
    Literature review
    Practices approach
    Phase 1: changing different practices through different organisations and interventions
    Phase 2: probably a case study approach using a multi-modal ethnography
  • 15. Initial findings - innovating low carbon practices (1)
    Important to think about more than the individual, social structures are key
    Need to understand more about how TSOs are involved in changing social practices
    Importance of local political environments
  • 16. Initial findings - innovating low carbon practices (2)
    Many inspirational projects
    Not one solution, many tensions including:
    Efforts to change values or actions (or balance between them)
    How to scale up initiatives
  • 17. Conclusions
    • Environmental issues present a key challenge for the third sector
    • 18. Likely that all TSOs will need to address:
    • 19. How organisations operate
    • 20. The needs of beneficiaries
    • 21. How TSOs advocate collectively
    • 22. Unclear route as to how the third sector will mainstream the environment
    • 23. BUT, third sector is likely to play a key part in how we tackle the most pressing environmental concerns
    • 24. But, now up to the sector how it defines the environmental agenda
  • Further information
    Please do not hesitate to get in touch if you have any queries… or if you are a member of an organisation that might like to take part in our research… or want more information about the documents I have talked about…
    Becca Edwards:
    07779 791661
    Visit for working papers and further information
  • 25. Discussion
    Where should we be focusing our research?
    How best to disseminate our research findings?
    Core issues for third sector to address in relation to the environment?
    How can third sector organisations demonstrate their added environmental value?
    What role is there for third sector umbrella organisations?