The next SCVO Good Governance webinar on 5 May is on a theme some trustees might not have considered before – are you a climate confident trustee?
Responding to the climate emergency
It’s a sad truth that COVID-19 is not the only global crisis we face at the moment. The contrasting pace of response is however interesting to reflect on. As we look ahead to COP 26 and the climate conference in Glasgow later this year, now is a good moment for charity trustees to consider getting on the front foot with this, and the SCVO webinar will share some practical pointers on how to get started.
Where is your charity on this at the moment?
At the WS Charities Conference earlier this year, I ran a poll and asked those joining to respond to this statement: “In our charity, we already have a strategy to mitigate and respond to climate change.” 20% said yes, 67% said no, and 13% said they didn’t think their charity needed such a strategy. This blog is aimed at that middle group, who want to take action and know their charity needs a strategy, but who don’t yet have one.
COVID recovery and climate action go hand-in-hand
Charities with office premises have a particular opportunity to consider their climate strategy afresh in the next few months. COVID-19 forced a change in behaviour when it comes to work locations and business travel habits, since working from home was mandated as a public health measure. When more flexibility returns to travel and workplace location decisions, charities and their trustees will need to decide on the new norms they’d like to set around a whole host of operational matters, which will affect beneficiaries, staff, trustees and other volunteers. In a poll I ran at the ACOSVO conference last year, 28% said their charity was looking at moving to different premises to reduce costs. It’s possible that a win-win combination could emerge, as smaller premises could offer cost-savings and, depending on their fit-out/building specification, could also have a lower carbon footprint. What meetings will stay online and what kind of meeting requires an actual get together? Will your board meetings remain online, fully revert to in-person, or alternate? More than one person has commented to me that trustee attendance at board meetings has gone up since they have been held online.
How climate-friendly are your investments?
A theme I will cover at the webinar in May looks at how climate change is increasingly a factor for those charities with an investment portfolio. In past years, this tended to be framed as a narrow question of whether or not to invest in oil and gas companies. Now, the choices are far broader, and it’s possible to go further and consider a climate lens applied to selecting all investments your charity holds, seeking both a financial return as well as a positive environmental and social one. It’s easy to see the connection between the technologies and companies well placed to operate in a lower carbon society, and those with good potential to deliver financial returns.
We’re now experiencing the impacts of a changing climate, and it’s no longer a question of imagining how to respond to a future problem – charity trustees can and should turn their minds to this now, in tandem with looking at the roadmap out of the COVID-19 restrictions. Join me, SCVO and a panel of speakers as we look at the practical next steps for trustees to help you get started.