Joint Ministerial and third sector taskforce report launched

Following on from this post, the report on the joint Ministerial and Third Sector Task Force on Climate Change, the Environment and Sustainable Development was formally launched at an event at the the Commonwealth Club this evening (9/3/10).  The event was chaired by Stephen Hale of Green Alliance and featured updates from members of the Task Force, a ‘question time’ style panel discussion and finished with a networking event.  A statement of support for the third sector declaration on climate change was signed by the Ministers present at the event, to reaffirm Government’s support of this key initiative.  Around 200 people from a wide diversity of organisations attended the event. Many people were from organisations with an environmental core function but importantly many were not.
MTF 035 Cropped
The panel reflected the diversity of third sector members of the task force alongside three of the Task Force Ministers.  Stuart Etherington (chief executive of NCVO), Sir Paul Ennals (chief executive of the National Children’s Bureau) and Sylvia Brown (chief executive of Action with Communities in Rural England, ACRE) represented the sector on the panel.   Huw Irranca-Davies MP (Parliamentary Under Secretary of State, Defra), Joan Ruddock MP (Minister of State, DECC) and Angela Smith (Minister for the third sector, Cabinet Office) were present on behalf of Government.
As well as a wide ranging debate each of the panel members addressed the conference with their thoughts.

The consensus from the panel was that the report represents a very significant milestone indeed and that the report and process is groundbreaking in terms of the number of third sector organisations and Ministers on board.  Stephen Hale noted that the report is the start of the process which we must all work on together on taking it forward.  The Task Force process has demonstrated that the issues climate change, the environment and sustainable development are everyone’s business, not just the preserve of those for which this represents core business: 2 of the 4 government departments involved do not have the words climate change, the environment or sustainable development in their name and the same applies to the majority of the 16 third sector organisations who contributed.  It was also recognised that the Task Force is standing on the shoulders of giants: those organisations for which these and environmental issues are part of the day to day, and have been for decades.

The report is about joint commitments to action and not just recommendations for others to consider, and these actions will act to seed others as we move forwards together.

Angela Smith highlighted work the Office of the Third Sector is doing with its 42 third sector strategic partners, and highlighted that OTS is setting up a website which will provide advice and a guide on green issues and the opening of the Innovation Exchange’s green next practice programme.  Stuart Etherington noted the important role that the sector has in involving civil society in this agenda and that all organisations must be involved as climate change and the environment are health and social justice issues, the diversity and innovation ability of the sector must be harnessed.  NCVO will be producing an online guide to climate change and will be establishing a new climate change unit in NCVO.  Huw Irranca Davies took the opportunity to launch ‘Adapting to climate change: a guide for local councils‘, which is a joint Defra/ACRE publication highlighting that action on these issues is not new, but that the Task Force takes this to a new level and also pointed towards the work that UKCIP are doing working with community groups to promote more sustainable living, the opportunity that the London 2012 Olympics present in terms of getting individuals and communities taking action on sustainable development.

Many issues came up in the discussion, such as the need to ensure that work that has been done on climate change already is not lost and properly integrated into the work catalysed by the Task Force report, the need to break down silo mentality, the need for further work to be done by Government on public services commissioning (which is being investigated by a specific Cabinet Committee), the need to involve children and young people at an early stage recognising that they are going to lead on climate change in the future, if the current paradigm of inaction is to be changed. The double squeeze of public spending cuts and scaling up in public service commissioning arrangements was discussed in terms of being a cultural change rather than a new burden.  The need for sustainable development to be embedded in public service commissioning is important.  Key issues were the need to lead by example, exercise leadership and persistence.  The need to reconcile funders and community groups objectives was seen as key moving forwards. The importance of foundations will increase as statutory funding gets tighter. They key role of the sector as innovators was recognised and the possible role of BIS in this was discussed.  The need to generate outcomes innovatively was discussed.  The point that climate change must become a moral issue to produce fundamental change.

Stephen Hale made it clear that the report is the start of the process, that it doesn’t cover the full range of environmental issues - work must go forward to tackle environmental issues holistically. The objective moving forwards is not to tick boxes, but to harness the innovation and ambition in the room and elsewhere to creatively come up with solutions.

Click on the graphic below for more photos of the event.

What came through very strongly from the event was that the report is the beginning of a process, which must involve environmental and non-environmental orgainsations.  What do you think will be the key issues that will need to be addressed going forward?  Please let me know by posting a comment.  If you would like a paper copy of the report please let me know by posting a comment and I’ll send one through to you.

Related posts: 4 government departments, 16 third sector orgainsations: Task Force Report available
The report can be downloaded from the third sector homepage on the Defra website.

This entry was posted in 10 Enabling our delivery bodies, 11 Better commissioning, 8 Joining things up, Embedding sustainable development, Ministerial task force and tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. Post a comment or leave a trackback: Trackback URL.


  1. Posted 11 March, 2010 at 12:20 pm | Permalink

    Thanks for the plug for our
    Green Next Practice programme. We are delighted to be working in this new area. It is up to us to learn from the great work that has already been done in this areaa, but I also know that our success depends on how well we collaborate with others. Whether you are yourself working on an innovation that has great potential to green public services, are you are able to recommend one, please do get in touch.

  2. Bed bugs
    Posted 16 July, 2010 at 8:14 am | Permalink

    This is a significant development for the third sector but clearly it’s the start of the process and I believe there is still much to be done.
    I think it’s important to get as broad a church as possible supporting and getting involved with this exciting initiative and may be the key to this is involving more non-environmental organisations. Good progress ajyw

  3. Portrait Artist
    Posted 25 July, 2010 at 6:54 pm | Permalink

    Is the third sector going to be renamed the Big Society ?

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