Earth Day 2022 falls shortly after the release of the most recent Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change report, which issued grave warnings that the current plans to address climate change will fall short of their goal of limiting global warming to 1.5°C above pre-industrial levels and thus many of the disastrous impacts of climate change, including an increase in the frequency and severity of extreme weather events, will be unavoidable. The report, along with findings presented at the most recent UN Climate Change Conference of the Parties (COP26) held in 2021 in Glasgow, UK have underscored the urgency for immediate and drastic climate action in order to avoid the worst consequences of climate change.
However, despite the grave warnings and a growing awareness that climate change is here and countries, particularly low-lying island nations in the Global South, are already facing its impacts, there are reasons for hope. To begin, recent years have demonstrated a growing awareness of climate change and the need to mitigate its worst impacts – building political and public will to take climate action. The mobilisation of citizens, particularly shown through global youth movements such as the Fridays for Future movement, demonstrates more and more that the public is demanding that governments be held accountable towards the environment. Additionally, from a decades-old environmental movement that was largely organised by, and for, the Global North there has been a shift to a more inclusive and diverse movement recognising the value of the work of all actors – for example the work of grassroots environmental organisations leading the change in communities of colour, or the recognition of the urgent need to include indigenous people and practices in restoring and managing our ecosystems.
But there is still (a ton of!) work to do. How can CSOs push for radical change to support the environment? Learn more about the actions that CSOs can take to be more accountable to the environment by checking out this roundup of resources shared by Accountable Now and its Members:
Engaging Stakeholders in Climate Advocacy Actions – A Dialogue
In this webinar recorded for Earth Day 2022, hear from three women-leaders to explore how CSOs are using approaches that are more responsive, and that involve communities, in their climate advocacy work.
Accountability Pill Podcast: Environmental Accountability During the COVID-19 Pandemic
In this episode of our Accountability Pill podcast, hear from three guests: Anastasia Roniotes (MIO-ECSDE), Fouzy Mathey (Yes 4 Humanity) and Kristina Naunova (CAN Europe) who all share their insights into what it has been like for environmental CSOs to push forward the climate agenda throughout the pandemic.
Good Practice: ChildFund New Zealand Plants Trees to Ensure Sustainable Income and Carbon Offsetting
ChildFund New Zealand is committed to the principle of doing no harm as well as ensuring that their work is sustainable, appropriate, feasible, and empowering (SAFE), which includes protecting the environment as well as enhancing the natural environment of our places of work. They track their carbon emissions and aim to plant trees in dedicated partner communities to offset these emissions. So far, they have initiated this work in Emali, Kenya, where they have a long standing partnership with the communities based upon their Road Map approach. Here, CFNZ have supported the communities to plant moringa trees, which are not only drought resistant but the leaves and seeds also provide micronutrients and nutrition to families and children.
Read about the good practice here, learn more in their 2018-19 Accountability Report, or visit their website to read more about their Road Map approach here.
Accountable Now’s Environmental Policy
Accountable Now commits to contributing to a healthy planet, as entrenched in our third accountability commitment. Guiding this commitment is our environmental policy, which aims to improve the awareness of the role and responsibility the organisation has towards protection of the environment so as to reduce the environmental impact of our operations, conserve resources and energy, and advocate for sustainable practices that promote positive change in behaviour. To do this, the environmental policy outlines practices Accountable Now and its staff should take up across three core areas of work: office and day-to-day operations; travel, conferences and events; and projects & partnerships.
Accountability in Focus: Our Responsibility Towards the Environment
In this edition of our report series, we explore how our Members are taking actions to minimise their impact on the environment through: strategies, policies, mechanisms, and targets. See good practices from our Members on how they are working towards improving their environmental sustainability.
View and download the report here.
Good Practice: CIVICUS’ approach to environmental stewardship
CIVICUS’ comprehensive Environmental Policy details information on the organisation’s efforts to mitigate its negative environmental impacts. It includes targets in the areas of energy and water, office supplies, transportation, maintenance and cleaning, and culture. Environmental awareness training is being introduced for staff in parallel with the new policy.
Further, the report notes outlines efforts are made to choose meeting locations/venues with the level of greenhouse gas emissions in mind, hold alternative local and virtual events where possible, keep meetings paperless, and contribute to carbon offsetting programmes.
Read about the good practice here and learn more in their 2018-19 Accountability Report.
Take Action, Improve, and Change: How CSOs can become accountable to the environment
What does accountability towards the environment look like for a civil society organisation? How can a CSO begin its journey towards protecting the environment? Check out this webinar with MIO-ECSDE to learn about the basics of constructing an environmental policy or improve an existing environmental policy.
Watch the webinar here or get tips from MIO-ECSDE on minimising the negative environmental impacts of organisations here.
Five Ways That CSOs Can Strengthen Their Accountability to the Environment on Earth Day
At Accountable Now we call for our Members, civil society organisations working around the world, to be accountable to the people they work for and with. But we also call for our Members to be accountable to the Earth and its environment. Regarding the environment as a key stakeholder means that Members have to consider the effect their work is having upon the environment as well as all other stakeholders: they must ensure that they mitigate their environmental impact and embed sustainability principles and values into planning, programming and policies. For Earth Day 2021, we shared five ways in which CSOs can be accountable to the environment.
Rather than hosting annual in-person events, staff are encouraged to use video-conferencing (including for Board meetings and AGMs, which are now held physically only every 2-3 years). This is a very simple practice that reduces travel and meeting-related GHGs emissions. When in-person events are held, a green events policy ensures that the events are more sustainable by outlining guidelines for sourcing local food and banning single-use plastics.
Read about the good practice here, learn more in their 2018-19 Accountability Report and check out their Environmental Policy here.
Should We Move Our AGM Online to Decrease Our Organisation’s Carbon Footprint
Flights and stays at hotels are two of the most carbon-intensive activities that make our in-person AGM possible. In this article, we explored how holding virtual meetings instead of carbon-intensive in-person meetings could help to minimise our carbon footprint. Estimating the total footprint of in=person events and comparing that against virtual meetings, this article explores the environmental benefits of virtuals events and outlines some important considerations when making the decision whether or not to move events online.
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