Dr Rebecca Edwards         Research FellowESRC Third Sector Research Centre
About our research• ‘Environment’ stream of the Third Sector  Research Centre• Three year programme of work exploring the ...
Importance of the third sector in   environmental communication• Third sector and its role in  environmental communication...
How could more cross-       sector working help?• Sharing skills and knowledge• Maximising impact• Developing innovation w...
It isn’t easy being green…• Developing effective  approaches• Supporting multiple  ways of understanding  approaches• Find...
Learning more about               partnership• Need to know more  about the third  sector and the  environment• Learn abou...
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Dr Rebecca Edwards: Working Across Sectors

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Presentation delivered by Dr Rebecca Edwards, Research Fellow, ESRC Third Sector Research Centre, at Communicate, 3rd November 2011, as part of the Living with Environmental Change session. Communicate is hosted by the Bristol Natural History Consortium www.communicatenow.org

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  • I have been asked to speak to you today, because I am the lead researcher on a programme of work exploring the environment and the third sectorThis research is exploring several interconnected themes. The first element of our work is using existing data sets from the charity commission and the national survey of third sector organisations to map the environmental third sector – how large is it? How is it funded? Where does it operate – results soon to be published!The second element of work is considering how the third sector as a whole is engaging with the environment. The first aspect of this is consider the policy initiatives that have called for the third sector as a whole to embed the environment in all the work that they do. The second part of this work is exploring how third sector organisations can operationalize the environment in what they do, specifically through environmental performance management tools.The third element of our work, where we are currently focusing around attention is exploring third sector innovations for low carbon practices – that is, consider the range of initiatives that can help us all live in a more environmentally sustainable way.
  • Part of the starting point of our research is knowing that the third sector has been crucial for communicating what we need to know about the environment –with inspirational organisations highlighting the urgent need to reduce acid rain, examine the impact of insecticides, prevent further erosion of the ozone layer and the need for renewal energy sources. Writing in September Damian Carrington of the Guardian stated that: ‘The green movement has undoubtedly punched above its weight and boxed cleverly to corner politicians into action’However, action, especially on climate change, and on many other environmental issues is still all too badly needed – and current research suggests that different organisations have been able to innovate different ways in which to engage – and communicate – ways in which to lead lower carbon lives.These include social marketing, in order to appeal to different sections of society to engage everyone in environmental action. Other approaches include the Common Cause work that persuasively argues that we need to understand the common human values and the frames that order our ideas Other groups have gone further and found ways that allow people to engage, and deal with, the loss and grief that adapting to a lower carbon life can bring. However, third sector cannot work in isolation and there are many examples of partnerships that have further extend the reach of what is does
  • Despite fantastic campaigns and genuine engagement with many parts of society, it clear that much action is still required on tackling our most pressing environmental issues – in short, the third sector cannot save the world alone.For example, different sectors can work together to take an idea and ensure that skills and knowledge are enhanced with joint expertise, and that the impact of environmental projects are maximised. In researching the third sector and the environment, I have seen many positive collaborations. For example, the Joint Ministerial and Third Sector Task Force brought together four government departments and 16 third sector organisations that were able to bring together new ideas to the table and enabled many organisations take a different approach.The National Council for Voluntary Organisations have highlighted how third sector organisations can work with the private sector to maximise what they do. Examples they highlight include Global Action Plan working with Sky on their Bigger Picture work to green all of their operation and engage their customers, how WSP environment and energy have been able to support Resources for Autism, and how Business in the Community have mobilised multiple partnerships to date. But, given our current environmental predicament, it is clear that much more cross-sector work is required.
  • But, the path of partnerships does not always run smoothly – and although we talk a lot about how brilliant partnerships can be, we don’t always address the issues that they bring upFor example, often funding streams from both the public and private sectors are looking for innovation rather than capacity building – meaning that really effective initiatives can flounder after their first tranche of funding. Our research has also found that third sector organisations with very different approaches are competing from the same pot.Partnerships can often bring up many tensions, and in particular, the ideology that governs organisations. People are nervous, rightly so, about who they get into bed with. Our research also reveals considerable tension amongst a changing policy backdrop. For many third sector organisations that we have worked with, the change of government in 2010 for many reasons now means that they are having to rebuild and renegotiate partnerships in an uncertain future. So what do we do?
  • Probably because I am a researcher, I see a clear need to understand more about how the third sector can work in partnership to tackle the most pressing environmental concerns. I see this session as an important step in helping us think about the role of partnership working – but academia needs to work with the third sector far more to understand why cross-sector working matters to maximize the impact of climate change mitigation and adaptation.The existence of the Third Sector Research Centre is evidence of the need to know more about the third sector in general. In particular, amongst third sector researchers, there has been little attention paid to how the sector as a whole can play a key role in engaging all of civil society in environmental action – and in turn, be prepared for environmental change. So, I argue that there is a need for further research to understand how to maximise the benefits of cross sector working, in living with environmental change, and also how the tensions that partnerships create can shape this process. Only then will we be able to truly maximise how all sectors can engage with society on the key environmental messages of our time.
  • Dr Rebecca Edwards: Working Across Sectors

    1. 1. Dr Rebecca Edwards Research FellowESRC Third Sector Research Centre
    2. 2. About our research• ‘Environment’ stream of the Third Sector Research Centre• Three year programme of work exploring the environment: – Mapping the environmental third sector – Mainstreaming of the environment across the third sector: policy and implementation – Third sector innovations for low carbon practices
    3. 3. Importance of the third sector in environmental communication• Third sector and its role in environmental communication• Third sector is crucial to innovating news ways in communicating environment action: – Social marketing – Values and frames – Towards an ecopsychology
    4. 4. How could more cross- sector working help?• Sharing skills and knowledge• Maximising impact• Developing innovation with capacity building• Many positive examples to date
    5. 5. It isn’t easy being green…• Developing effective approaches• Supporting multiple ways of understanding approaches• Finding a place in the big ‘green’ society
    6. 6. Learning more about partnership• Need to know more about the third sector and the environment• Learn about how cross-sector working can engage society with climate change mitigation and adaptation

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