What is Your Environmental Footprint?

Considering the environment and how and why we do international development

During COP 26 many of us have been following the news with varying degrees of hope and despair. SWIDN heard a hopeful summary of the goals of civil society for the summit from SWIDN member Cat Pettengell at our recent online conference. We also heard from Arthur Mist from World Vision UK during our Good Development Working Group

There's no doubt that the issue of climate justice and the environment is complex. For many of us, it can feel daunting to understand what the best changes are that we can and need to make. For others, particularly in our sector, it can be hard to justify the greater costs involved in making many greener decisions, especially when these are our organisational overheads. We are grateful to Arthur for his suggestions and we have expanded on these, with input from the Good Development Working Group, below. 

- Does your organisational strategy or Theory of Change recognise the climate crisis as a contributing factor to poverty and inequality?

This can be critical to decision-making in your organisation. If your Theory of Change acknowledges the impact of the climate crisis on the issues you are working to change in lower income countries, your efforts towards climate justice can be integrated into your work plans, programmes, operations and budget. This is also important in order to have partners and senior leadership, including trustees, involved in and supportive of becoming a greener organisation.

- Are you monitoring your environmental footprint?

Monitoring our environmental footprint is a vital step in understanding where and how we can make changes to reduce this. Is your organisation monitoring waste, travel, the consumption of water, electricity and gas? Do you have clarity on the extent to which your bank is investing in climate-destroying activities or working to stop these? Who is in your supply chains and where are these based? What else could you be keeping tabs on to give you a bigger picture of the impact of your organisation?

- What is your target?

Once you have a clearer idea of the impact of your organisation today, you can be better informed to identify a realistic target to work towards. Perhaps this is net zero, or perhaps it is a target on the way to net zero that is more achievable in the short term. What timeframe is achievable and appropriate for the way your organisation works?

- What skills do you need to get there?

We all know the myriad of skillsets involved in all the ways of working across our organisations, programmes and partnerships. Working to understand and reduce our environmental impact is no different, and it is important to understand the skills needed to be effective. We see so many of our SWIDN members holding such a vast range of skills together already, and often in small and part time teams. Do you have someone able to measure and monitor activities? Do you have someone able to collate, analyse and communicate the impact of your organisation? Do you have someone skilled in communicating this impact to donors, in marketing the changes needed to supporters, and in researching the best options for your unique set of circumstances? 

SWIDN are passionate about collaborating, sharing learning and resources, and building supportive communities. Get in touch if you are interested in swapping skills with like-minded organisations in our collective journey towards climate justice, or come along to our next Good Development Working Group on Tuesday 15 February 2022 to meet other organisations.


Additional Links:

For more information on theories of change, come along to our December 2021 course Developing a Theory of Change.

Prime Minister of Barbados, Mia Mottley's speech at COP 26 was mentioned in the Good Development Working Group and you can listen to it here.  

This podcast presents a view on the environment from a black/ brown perspective, as does this website

This article is a strong call to action for our sector specifically.

This article helps us understand the carbon impact of our work in greater detail.

With grateful thanks to Cath Moulogo for support with the additional links!