Ministerial Task Force members announced

Before listing the third sector members appointed to the Ministerial Task Force we would like to thank all those who have been supportive of this initiative and those who applied for appointment. We sincerely hope that everyone will continue to remain engaged with this crucial, high profile initiative. We have made a serious attempt to contact to all those who applied before making this public announcement.

The task force is attempting to build on existing initiatives such as Every Action Counts, and others we are collecting here, to raise the profile of the on-going crucial role the third sector has in moving society to a more sustainable way of living. The task force will be action-orientated and will highlight what needs to be done by the sector itself, by government and through partnership. We also want to make sustainable development a part of everyone’s agenda, and engage organisations whose primary remit is NOT the environment, climate change or sustainable living.

This is such a crucial issue that we need to all work together if we are going to have the very necessary impact*.

Four Ministers from four key departments will participate in the task force and they will be supported by the following people from the third sector:

What next?
The third sector members of the task force will have their first meeting on 20 May 2009 and will meet with Ministers for the first time on 15 June 2009. It is anticipated that the third sector members will meet three times over the summer and the final meeting involving Ministers will take place in October 2009

*There is an open invitation to anyone who wants to help, to post suggestions to this blog (just click on a comment link).
If you would like to be included in the Ministerial Task Force mailing list please contact: Faye Scott [fscott at green-alliance dot org dot uk]
As the work of the task force progresses we will be indicating the additional support required and posting opportunities for others to help. 
We have called for information on existing initiatives, research etc to be posted here.

Posted in 5 Environmental leadership, Ministerial task force, Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Third Sector Advisory Board meets for the first time

Advisory Board

At the end of last week the new Third Sector Advisory Board elected Roger Clarke as their Chair and their first meeting took place yesterday afternoon (11/5/09). Philip Mulligan, CEO of Environmental Protection UK was confirmed as Vice- Chair.

The agenda for this first meeting was put together by the third sector team and focussed on improving the understanding of how Defra works: the way people are organised (pdf, 400KB) and the way the work of the department is carried out. This was explained by Jill Rutter, Defra’s Director of Strategy and Sustainable Development (my boss’ boss). Defra’s communications team provided a copy of ‘the grid’ which is a rolling statement of the key events and messages over the next few months used by Defra’s Management Board.

All this theory was then brought alive through a presentation by Peter Unwin, one of the Defra Management Board members and Director of Environment and Rural. Defra leads on the cross-government PSA 28: ‘Secure a healthy natural environment for today and the future’; Peter oversees this work. Peter’s presentation was followed by a discussion of the role of the third sector in the area of sustainable development, in partnership with government and independently.

I described the current and planned activities of the third sector team. Key current activities are:

The plan is, that with this background, the advisory board will be in a better position to operate at a strategic level to further strengthen the relationship between Defra, its delivery bodies and the third sector.

The provisional date of the next meeting was set for the afternoon of Friday 17 July 2009.

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Huw Irranca-Davies launches MuckIn4Life

Huw Irrance-Davies MuckIn4Life
Image credit: se1 (on audio Boo)

Yesterday morning, before breakfast, Defra’s Third Sector Minister, Huw Irranca-Davies, was on the shores of the Thames demonstrating what MuckIn4Life is all about. This is what he said:

Thanks to se1 for capturing this and putting it in a place where we can all use it.

The Minister was launching Defra’s MuckIn4Life initiative with a photo competition. MuckIn4Life supports the Department of Health’s Change4Life campaign.

Huw Irranca Davies MuckIn4Life

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Hilary Benn on Every Action Counts

Courtesy of British Satellite News, here is a 3 minute video that captures Hilary Benn’s views on the Every Action Counts programme. The clip was taken at the EAC celebration event on 6 May at the Coin Street Neighbourhood Centre in London.

Additional information

Defra’s YouTube channel

[this is a back-dated post - actual posting date: 12/5/09]

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EAC celebration event

Hilary Benn Tim Smit Mark Walton

I’ve just got back from a very enjoyable and productive day at the Every Action Counts celebration event at the Coin Street Neighbourhood Centre. I was able to re-establish contact with old friends and several people that I felt I knew quite well but had never met.

Hilary Benn, Defra’s Secretary of State, addressed the audience of Every Action Counts partners and friends and took questions. He thanked all those who had been involved in the programme and highlighted on-going Defra/Third Sector activities including the Minsterial Task Force, the Third Sector Advisory Board and this blog!

Tim Smit, founder of the Eden Project, addressed the conference and reminded us of the importance of innovation and the nurchering of ideas that emerge ‘from around the kitchen table’.

I helped facilitate a workshop on Government/Third Sector partnerships in which those with a long-term involvement in Every Action Counts were not shy in coming forward with suggestions on things that could be done better (especially by Defra) in the future. I think some of this learning has already been applied in the current third sector work programme but there are more learning points which we will need to pick up. We will do this formally when the EAC Evaluation is published shortly.

A point that really came into focus for me during the day is that not all funding is the same. The point was made that government finds it difficult to fund primary innovation because of the inherent risk of failure and the potential for the understandable backlash that occurs when publically-funded projects are seen to ‘fail’. On the otherhand, Jo Temple of the Sainsbury Family Charitable Trusts, said that they find it easier to fund innovation and accept a level of ‘failure’ (learning?) that might be unacceptable in a publically funded project. However she said that trusts can often find if difficult to scale up the things that work.

This led to a discussion afterwards with Jill Rutter (Defra) and Maria Adebowale (Capacity Global) about how funders might work more strategically together. Maria indicated that they were already looking at this issue . . . . watch this space.

Mark Walton, the Head of Every Action Counts, topped and tailed the event very effectively. The most heartening remark he made was “We have started a whole new movement here which will not stop just because a funding stream has come to an end”. At the end of the day Mark focussed on what might be the legacy of Every Action Counts and his list included:

  • Resources
  • People
    • community champions (1000s)
  • Partnership
    • between organisations from the social and environmental sectors working together to deliver change
    • cross fertilisation of ideas
    • improved understanding between Defra and the Third Sector as evidenced by the Third Sector Strategy
    • more cross-departmental working as seen in the Ministerial Task Force and the work with DIUS on the role of adult education in sustainability
  • Knowledge, commitment and leadership
    • the linking and integration of sustainability into the main drivers for the third sector: tackiling poverty and social injustice
    • contributing to:
      • the Oxfam/NEF poverty and climate change roundtable
      • the Carnegie enquiry
      • the Baring Foundation initiative
      • PQASSO
      • Charity Commission and CFDG guidance
      • Joseph Rowntree Foundation (JRF) climate change and poverty work programme

The full evaluation of EAC will be available shortly and when it is we will be posting links to it on this blog.

Posted in 2 Sustainable living, 5 Environmental leadership, Embedding sustainable development | Tagged | 1 Comment

Can you help Defra’s third sector team support the Ministerial Task Force?

Delicious screenshot - taskforce09 tag

As we announced earlier applications have now closed for the Ministerial Task Force and we are waiting for Ministers’* approval of the Third Sector members.  However, this doesn’t mean that we can’t start work! A key element of the Terms of Reference for the Task Force (pdf, 25KB) is that it should be informed by on-going projects and work that has already been done in the area of Climate Change, the Environment and Sustainable Development.

We have started gathering this information here.

If you know of on-going projects or work undertaken in this area you can contribute in one of three ways:

  1. You can comment below giving the details - please include weblinks if these are available, or
  2. If you use the social bookmarking tool ‘delicious‘ you can bookmark them and give them the tag ‘taskforce09‘. Doing this will mean they will appear here for the benefit of everyone: or
  3. You can email the details to: thirdsector at defra dot gsi dot gov dot uk


* The Task Force will include ministers from Defra (Huw Irranca-Davies), DECC (Joan Ruddock), OTS (Kevin Brennan) and CLG (Iain Wright).

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Community-owned shops - Third Sector steps in where the private sector struggles

We met this week with our Social Enterprise Strategic Partners and our discussions focussed on how we might raise awareness across Defra of the role social enterprises play in the delivery of the Defra’s strategic objectives. We talked about the many examples there are of this but one struck a particular chord with me. Sarah Flood from the Plunkett Foundation said that the number of community shops established in March and April this year had reached an all time high of 10 and that the level of enquiry was also at an all time high. Now, part of this is due to the fact that people running rural shops for a profit are struggling, to an even greater extent, in the current economic downturn and rural people are looking at alternative ways to keep retail services in their communities.

I followed this conversation up today with Mike Perry at the Plunkett Foundation. He said that the social/community enterprise model of retail was proving to be particularly resilient with communities responding to changing economic conditions by increasing or decreasing the level of volunteering for example. Mike also pointed me to these two recent press releases:

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Why conservation volunteers are important to Defra

The April 2009 issue of Landscape, the Defra staff magazine, includes a feature on conservation volunteering in the UK.

Conservation volunteering provides far more than just environment benefits - it can improve community safety and spirit, promote health and well being, and provide job skills and employment opportunities.

Defra’s Third Sector Strategy aims to promote environmental volunteering and recognise the role of unpaid volunteers in Defra affairs. In particular, the Strategy commits us to -

  • Develop an environmental volunteering campaign to enhance biodiversity by working with a range of NGOs and delivery bodies, under the umbrella of the Department of Health’s ‘Change 4 Life’ initiative for healthy active lifestyles. Defra worked closely with the BTCV to develop this new campaign - ’Muck-in4Life’ - which will be launched in the spring;
  • Use Defra’s intranet and annual volunteering fair to encourage staff in participate in environmental and community volunteering opportunities;
  • Promote green volunteering through a new search facility linked to (the national volunteering database) and explore ways of linking this to Defra’s NDPBs and delivery partners.

To download the Landscape feature, and learn more about conservation volunteering, click here [pdf 800KB].

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Every Action Counts event - 6 May 2009

On 6 May, the ‘Change: what happens when Every Action Counts’ event will mark the end of the Defra funded ‘Every Action Counts‘ programme.

The day will include a panel debate on partnership, and workshops looking at issues around volunteers and community workers, government and third sector partnerships, and funding and resources. The keynote address will be delivered by the Rt Hon Hilary Benn MP, Sectretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs.

There are still places available for stakeholders with an interest in this agenda. If you would like to apply for an invitation please contact Louise Davies at - louise at seventeenevents dot co dot uk.

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What we need is a map of all the community-based climate change projects

RCCN's Community energy projects map
I’ve just come out of another meeting where someone else has said ‘What we need is a map of all the community-based climate change projects’. Now this map isn’t perfect but it’s a start. It came out of research done by ruralnet|uk and the original can be found here (the map contains a lot of information and so takes a while to load). Does anyone know of other maps of community-based climate change projects?

Click on the image above to go to an interactive version of the map on the RCCN website.
NOTE: that once on the ruralnet|uk site, clicking on a pin on the map will give you a description of the project.

Posted in 7 Understanding the sector, Uncategorized | Tagged , | Leave a comment