Ministerial Task Force meets for the first time

Yesterday afternoon (20/5/09) the third sector members of the Ministerial Task Force met for the first time with officials from the four departments involved.

To some extent we are navigating unchartered waters with this task force in that we (the Government Departments) have not sought to control the process. Instead, we are seeking to work collaboratively with the third sector. We have asked organisations from the sector (Green Alliance and NCVO) to provide the secretariat and help with the recruitment process. The diversity and the calibre of the membership is a credit to this approach.

This is a brief overview of the meeting taken from my notes. The secretariat will be providing further details in due course. We will keep you posted on when and where these are available through this blog (you can subscribe for alerts here).

I was asked to make a statement about our expectations of the task force and drawing on the agreed terms of reference (pdf, 25KB) these are the main points I made:

  • We need to build on what has already been done but move very quickly and decisively.
  • This task force has been established to bring the power, the trust, the intellect and the reach of the third sector together with the force of government to come up with an inspiring set of actions we can all commit to.
  • We also want the whole of the third sector to appreciate the crucial role it has to play here and we want to understand how the government can effectively support this role.
  • The third sector gave us the welfare state can it give us the sustainable state?
  • When we talk about the whole of the sector working with government, we don’t just mean the people in this room (obviously). We need to bring the whole of the third sector and the whole of government along with us. This is too big an issue and too big an opportunity for us to split. If we fail to do this we aren’t likely to get a second chance. There is a huge responsibility on all of us to make this work.
  • I hope the task force will be able paint a really positive vision of the future and agree the actions required to move towards that vision
  • We need a vision and set of jointly agreed actions that will inspire people to engage effectively and quickly with the issues of sustainable living and climate change.
  • In our work on this task force, let’s try to rise above our own interests and those of our organisation and think of the future of the whole of society

After introductions, members were asked to write their ‘Hopes’ and ‘Fears’ with respect of the task force and the collective summary of these was:


  • we don’t learn from what’s gone before
  • talk not action
  • we fail to prioritise
  • fear that it’s too late to do anything about climate change anyway
  • that the sector cannot work together
  • the sector and government are unable to work collaboratively
  • that we miss this opportunity


  •  that we focus on actions
  • that we can make climate change relevant to people
  • that we can get a better recognition of what the third sector can add
  • that we can work together
  • that we can come up with a positive vision of what the future could look like

The discussion covered:

  • working methods
  • themes the MTF might focus on
  • whether the MTF should have a Climate Change or Sustainable Development focus (the consensus was that it should be the latter)

Stephen Hale of Green Alliance was elected as Chair of the third sector element of the task force.

*If you’d like to follow the progress of the task force in more detail, please contact Faye Scott [fscott at green-alliance dot org dot uk] to be put on the email list.

You can also help by highlighting work done already.

You can also comment right here – please click on the comment link.

There will be other opportunities to engage as the work of the Task Force progresses and we will highlight these here as they emerge.

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