Mainstreaming the environment? Third sector action on climate change and environmental sustainability Dr Rebecca Edwards, TSRC, University of Southampton
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…
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
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
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
Initial findings – mainstreaming the environment (3)
Some organisations are engaging with the environment – inspirational examples
Difficult for third sector organisations to meet the challenge
Very likely that all sectors will have to respond – third sector can set agenda
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?
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
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
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
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
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
Unclear route as to how the third sector will mainstream the environment
BUT, third sector is likely to play a key part in how we tackle the most pressing environmental concerns
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: firstname.lastname@example.org 07779 791661 Visit www.tsrc.ac.uk for working papers and further information
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?