Talk to Hilary Benn about a greener society

Hilary Benn will be participating in a Webchat on the Number 10 website on Wednesday 3 March at 14:00 GMT. The theme will be ‘A Greener Society’.

This is how the session is trailed on the Number 10 website:

To reduce the rate of climate change and adapt to the effects of a warming planet, we will have to change some aspects of the way we live. As part of a debate on the issue running on Directgov, Hilary Benn, Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs will answer your questions about achieving a greener society and proposals to make it easier for people to grow their own food.

If you can’t wait for the webchat, you can join the online debate now. It’s here:

Posted in 2 Sustainable living, 5 Environmental leadership | Tagged , , | Leave a comment

Opportunity of lowest tide in five years siezed by Thames21 to clean up plastic bag litter

Thames21, London’s leading waterways charity, will use the lowest daytime tide in five years as an opportunity to highlight London’s legacy of plastic bag litter that has accumulated in the past 30 years. Thames21 points out that while the attitudes of some have changed – this must now extend beyond charity volunteers and the most major retailers, to all sections of the community.

Vast expanses of river that normally remain covered on regular tides will be exposed for a brief period on Tuesday 2nd and Wednesday 3rd March, illustrating some of London’s worst affected locations for litter.

The two day clean up event will be launched at the Isle of Dogs, East London, home to one of London’s worst plastic bag litter spots. Staff volunteers from supermarket retailers will be attending the first day to help remove plastic bag litter. Up to 800 volunteers from London’s residential and business community will be mobilised to help in the effort at further events in Fulham, North Woolwich and Hammersmith.

More information including a quote from Hilary Benn, can be found on Thames21’s website, here.

[Pictures of the actual clean up added below on 2/3/10]

River Thames foreshore clean up thames foreshore clean up River Thames foreshore clean up

Posted in 1 Advocacy voice campaigning policy, 2 Sustainable living, 5 Environmental leadership | Tagged , | Leave a comment

Defra on food waste and anaerobic digestion

Food 2030, the Government’s food strategy, makes tackling food waste one of its six priorities. The goal is to avoid food waste as much as possible at every stage in the supply chain – from production and manufacturing through distribution and retail to waste-conscious consumers. This must be done in ways that do not compromise food safety.

Where surplus food is unavoidable it should be valued, not wasted. This can be done though redistributing safe food to vulnerable groups. There are already charities operating in the UK that do this, for example last year Fareshare was able to provide 7.4 million meals to homeless people, as well as children and elderly people living in poverty, using surplus food that would have otherwise been wasted. Where the food can’t be eaten it should be used to generate fertiliser or energy using anaerobic digestion technology.

Food waste must also be tackled internationally. In some developing countries up to 30 per cent of crops can be wasted due to problems with harvesting, transporting and storing food. Development assistance for better storage facilities and infrastructure must transform this situation to help meet the growing global demand for food.

What is anaerobic digestion?
Anaerobic digestion (AD) is a proven renewable energy technology that can reduce greenhouse gas emissions. It involves capturing methane from the decomposition of organic materials, such as food waste.

In the UK we waste 18 – 20 million tonnes of food and drink a year. Wasting food and drink contributes to climate change both through the unnecessary emissions from supplying the food and the methane released when it decomposes in landfill.

An alternative to landfill is sending food waste to an AD plant for treatment.  

What is the potential of anaerobic digestion?
Treating just 5.5 million tonnes of food waste by anaerobic digestion could generate between 477 and 761 GWh of electricity each year – enough to meet the needs of up to 164,000 households.  In addition, the majority of food waste ends up in landfill, where it breaks down to produce methane – this is over 20 times more potent than carbon dioxide as a climate change gas. Every tonne of food waste digested rather than sent to landfill could save between 0.5 and 1 tonne of CO2 equivalent.

For more information what you can do at home to combat food wastage have a look at WRAP’s website.

Posted in 4 Environmental entrepreneurship, 5 Environmental leadership | Tagged , , , , | Leave a comment

Win the ultimate social enter-prize!

Win the ultimate social enter-prize, an exclusive one-on-one mentoring session with one of the 28 UK Social Enterprise Ambassadors!

The Social Enterprise Ambassador programme has launched its first-ever mentoring competition, offering exclusive access to all 28 ambassadors’ offices, insights and experience as prizes.

In order to win, entrants must explain in 150 words or less why they think they should win the session with their ambassador of choice, via the entry form on the ambassadors’ website

The competition is open to both individuals and organisations. Current or aspiring social entrepreneurs as well as social enterprises and organisations interested in using business to create social and environmental change. Each ambassador will give two hours of intensive business advice and mentoring to the competition winners, as well as a tour of their social enterprise to get the inside story on how it works.

The Social Enterprise Ambassadors are dynamic business leaders of this thriving new sector, and include Penny Newman, Chief Exec of Jamie Oliver’s Fifteen Foundation and Big Issue Founder John Bird.

The competition launches on February 1st and runs until March 31st 2010.

Posted in 4 Environmental entrepreneurship | Tagged | Leave a comment

Mass localism – NESTA discussion paper

This discussion paper was launched today (23/2/10) and takes the lessons from NESTA’s Big Green Challenge and suggests 5 lessons that policymakers should use in developing programmes that impact on and involve local communities.

The five principles were:

  1. Establish clear measureable outcomes;
  2. Presume community capacity to innovate;
  3. In the early stages, challenge and advice is more useful than cash;
  4. Identify existing barriers to change and remove them;
  5. Don’t reward activity, reward outcomes.

The Big Green Challenge attracted 350 applicants. Because of the open approach to engagement with the sector and the fact that it was a staged process with money released at each stage, meant that smaller groups could participate , which built capability. This is similar to the approach Defra took with our Greener Living Fund (GLF).

Should you wish to see the meeting yourself, it was filmed and will appear on Nesta’s website tomorrow (24/2/10).

The discussion paper can be downloaded here (PDF 809 KB).

Thanks to our colleague, Robbie Craig for highlighting this discussion paper and providing the majority of the text for this post.

Posted in 11 Better commissioning, 5 Environmental leadership, 7 Understanding the sector, 9 Better partnerships | Tagged , , | Leave a comment

Raising awareness of social enterprise within Defra

[Guest post by The Plunkett Foundation]

SESP Workshop
The role of social enterprise in contributing to Defra’s objectives was the flavour of the hour at a recent Defra lunchtime policy seminar (11/2/10). Peter Couchman of the Plunkett Foundation, outlined the multiple outcomes, relevant to goverments, that social enterprises deliver. 

For example, Rockingham Forest Trust in Northamptonshire, which in addition to managing a 650 acre forest and countryside trust, a £2m carbon neutral Education Centre and several associated social enterprises also actively supports community planning and community engagement projects. Or Tackley Village Shop, Oxfordshire – a multi-service project developed by a rural community after the village lost its post office, two shops and a pub. As is typical with social enterprise, all profits are fed back into the community. According to Peter, these multiple outcomes make measuring and communicating the overall value and contribution of social enterprise difficult, particularly where policy making tends to operate in silos.

Attendees tackled the question of ‘what is social enterprise’ with Lucy Findlay of RiSE outlining three typical characteristics – an enterprise orientation, social and environmental aims and social ownership. Steve Clare of the Development Trusts Association spoke about the need to raise awareness of the growing potential of social enterprise at a local and national level.

Attendees then engaged in a quick-fire discussion on specific policy areas. One group discussed how social enterprise is an increasingly important part of rural development and how food and farming policy makers need to recognise that community engagement with food is becoming an increasingly important part of the agenda. Another group tackled resource use and in particular the role of social enterprise in preventing waste, encouraging individual behaviour change and adapting to climate change.

The Plunkett Foundation,  is one of Defra’s five social enterprise strategic partners, together with Co-operatives UK, the Development Trusts Association, RiSE and the Social Enterprise Coalition.

Posted in 4 Environmental entrepreneurship, Social Enterprise Strategic Partnership | Tagged , , , , , | Leave a comment

Joint third sector and ministerial Task Force – report launch

You are invited to the launch of

Shaping our future
The report from the joint ministerial and third sector Task Force on climate change, the environment and sustainable development

Date: Tuesday March 9th
Time: Registration from 5:30 for a prompt 6:00 start
Location: tbc (central London)
Format: The event will be followed by a drinks reception

The third sector provides the voice for society’s ambitions about the kind of world we want to live in. Climate change, the environment and sustainability are all issues that concern and will affect many in the third sector, threatening many of the causes that the third sector holds dear. Tackling it offers the sector the chance to shape the future, and seize the opportunities arising from action. The Task Force has worked together for the past nine months to identify those opportunities, and develop an action plan to help grasp them. It has involved Ministers from Defra, DECC, the Office of the Third Sector and CLG and 16 leaders from across the third sector.

The launch event is an opportunity to share and debate their vision and plans for the future with a third sector and government audience and will involve:

Questions for the panel and RSVP’ing: If you have a question for the panel please send it along with your RSVP to Richard Booth at to rbooth [at] or phone 020 7630 4515. Venue details will be sent in a confirmation email nearer the time.

Those who register will be sent joining details closer to the event.

[Amended on 19/2/10. Last two lines added to clarify the need to register.]

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

Community Sector and Climate Change Event 20 Feb 2010

CSC Climate Change event

Common Ground for Local Action*

- testing the links between localists, the community sector and climate change campaigning

*In conjunction with UCL Bartlett School of Planning – Michael Edwards

Date: Saturday 20th February 2010

Time: 12.30 to 5 p.m.

Venue: The Roberts Foyer, University College London (UCL) Engineering Building, London WC1E 7JE >>map
(facing Waterstones, Torrington Place; ground floor, venue fully accessible)

You need to book a place: email matt [at] or telephone 020 7336 9461

We need to know numbers to plan the event, so let us know if you are coming.


Midday: Registration & Networking

1.00: Setting the scene – including talks by:

Mark Barrett (CRD) - The Campaign for Real Democracy: aims and actions
Eileen Conn – Community Development Network - Taking local action
Matt Scott – CSC / CDNL) - The 3rd Sector, Social Justice and Civil Society
Maria Adebowale – Capacity Global – Climate change community action
Chris Church - Low Carbon Communities Network – Supporting voluntary action on Climate Change

2.00 – 4.00: Open Space exercise

4.00 – 5.00: Agreements, conclusions, ways forward

Objectives for the day

  • To explore common ground across localist, third sector and climate change agendas
  • Using an open space process find out where the interest is – including identifying issues, solutions and actions
  • Drawing on what comes out of the open space, set out areas of consensus and future collective action
Posted in 12 Miscellaneous, 5 Environmental leadership | Tagged , | Leave a comment

Survey: tackling poverty and discrimination, improving job opportunities and protecting the environment

The Institute for Public Policy Research (ippr) has launched a new project looking at local-level work to tackle poverty, discrimination and disadvantage, improve job opportunities and protect the environment. We would like to find out about the work currently being done by local organisations across the UK. They are keen to hear from all types of organisations, including trade unions, local authorities, charities, social enterprises, campaign groups and service providers – anyone who is involved in tackling poverty, improving job opportunities or protecting the environment at a local level.

The survey can be accessed here:

Posted in 12 Miscellaneous | Tagged , | Leave a comment

Climate adaptation guide for elected members

Climate Adaptation Guide for elected members
This guide on climate change adaptation was launched at the LGA conference on 27/1/10. It is aimed at elected members of local councils but many third sector organisations will also find it useful. This publication, produced in conjunction with Defra and UKCIP, offers key decision makers in local authorities a short introduction into the climate projections: what they are, what they aren’t, and how they can help you make key decisions. It includes some important questions that elected representatives should be asking their authorities, to ensure that they are aware of the threats and opportunities a changing climate might bring.

A further publication aimed at community groups and Parish and Town Councils is expected soon.

Posted in 5 Environmental leadership, Uncategorized | Tagged , , , , | Leave a comment