Climate change and the VCS

What's the future for the VCS with the cloud of climate change looming? Are there opportunities as well as threats?

On 5 March 2009, Stephen Hale, Director of Green Alliance Picture of Stephen Hale

and Dr Nicholas Watts from London Metropolitan University nicholas watts

led an interesting debate on what climate change means and how this may impact on the voluntary and community sector (VCS).

There were delegates from an interesting mixture of organisations, not just environmental organisations, from London Funders to Bassac. If you're interested in what climate change means for the VCS, then have a look at what Stephen has to say in his thinkpiece. If you've got comments on this, you can either reply to Stephen's post or pick up on it in the forum about this climate change seminar.

At the seminar Stephen, Nicholas and the audience debated aspects of climate change and the sector, some of which Stephen talks about in his thinkpiece. Maybe you've been mulling this over in your brain and now have a burning question or point to make...well here's the place to make it and engage with those who were also there.

You can view his presentation as well.

We're always aiming to make our events ever more interesting, relevant and enjoyable. Did you attend this event? What did you think of it? Let us know.

  • Does your organisation understand the impact its services and practices may have on the environment?
  • How might your organisation influence local strategies on sustainable communities as proposed in the Sustainable Development Bill?
  • Could an eco-audit of your services save you money and help you through the economic downturn?
  • Will increasing numbers of environmental refugees impact on the services your organisation provides?

This seminar also provided an opportunity to discuss and debate the potential roles and responsibilities of the sector with regards to climate change.

NCVO Third Sector Foresight Leading Lights series 

NCVO Third Sector Foresight Leading Lights events provide delegates with time and space away from the daily pressures of running their organisation to think in depth about how complex external trends may impact on their organisation in the future. Usually open only to network members, they are a great chance to meet other members, share knowledge and experiences as well as discuss key topics in depth.


Last updated at 15:36 Wed 10/Mar/10.

Recent comments

Kathryn's picture


Third Sector Foresight

There’s our event taking place on 5th March; but there are also some other interesting events out there looking at similar issues. An ODI, All Party Parliamentary Group on Overseas Development, All Party Parliamentary Climate Change Group and Department for International Development, UK event series is being run on ‘climate change and international development’. The first one in the series is on 19 January, but there are others at later dates.

Sarah's picture


Third Sector Foresight

If you’re interested in reading some more about this topic before our seminar some key publications to have a look at are:

Civil society and climate change by NEF

Environmental responsibility: what role should charities play?

Partnering for the environment – lessons for a collaborative future also has some interesting thoughts in this tighter economic climate relating to funding.

Véronique's picture


Third Sector Foresight

The report by a new coalition of leading UK environmental and social justice groups Tackling climate change, reducing poverty is worth looking at too:

This report is just the first in a series of activities bringing together organisations working on the issues of poverty and the environment to try and encourage coordinated thinking and to show that the right policies can and must advance both causes at once.

Natalie's picture


Third Sector Foresight

This issue (PDF 3.5MB) of the Forced Migration Review on Climate change and displacement might also be useful. It contains articles by UN, academic, international and local actors exploring the extent of the potential displacement crisis, community adaptation, coping strategies, and the search for solutions.

Kathryn's picture


Third Sector Foresight

Food for the future?
An event which picks up on an aspect of the environmental issues debate is this one, hosted by the Science museum.
This article briefly looks at some of the potential implications of this viewpoint. If you’re interested in it, see also the work done by Green Alliance on this issue.

Kathryn's picture


Third Sector Foresight

If you look past some of the more reactionary and inflammatory comments (that you nearly always find in online comments!), there is an interesting dichotomy of viewpoints presented by Leo Hickman (a Guardian journalist/editor) and Peter Melchett (policy director of the Soil Association) on whether or not society is getting engaged with the environmental agenda and what can be done going forward.

(keep an eye out for yours truly on there as well!)

S 's picture


NCVO Web Team

A central player in the debate on environmental concerns, Green Alliance not only had Stephen Hale thinking about the future of the sector through a green lens at our seminar, but are also working with NCVO on a climate change task force.
Third Sector Task Force on Climate Change – NCVO website

Risk management

Green Alliance have produced a range of briefings focused on climate change which you can download from their website
Green alliance publications list

NCVO has just produced an online guide to help VCOs working in the UK explore how climate-related trends such as changing weather patterns and knock-on social and economic effects (eg increased immigration and new health risks) could impact on their beneficiaries/cause and their work.

The guidance is based on findings from The Big Response project (run by NCVO, Green Alliance and Global Action Plan), in which four charities looked into the implications climate change is likely to have for them and began to make decisions about how to respond.

The project provided an opportunity to look at climate change from a fresh perspective, to show the relevance and importance of this issue for non-environmental charities of all shapes and sizes.

Rather than focusing on reducing carbon, the project demonstrated that climate change is an issue of social justice even in this country, because it will have a disproportionate impact on poor and other disadvantaged people who don't have the capacity to cope with the challenges to everyday life that climate change will bring.

By helping VCOs to understand the threat climate change may hold for their beneficiaries or cause - and their future ability to deliver services, they'll be able to make informed mission-focused decisions about what role to play in the face of this major challenge, whether that's developing new services, encouraging other providers to take this issue seriously, or even campaigning for bigger carbon cuts. Take a look:

Join the discussion!

How will this affect your organisation? Have you considered it during your strategic planning? Can you share any interesting relevant links?

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