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Carnegie UK recognises the existential threat posed by the climate and nature crises. We also recognise that as an organisation working across the UK and Ireland, we are in a position where our actions can have an impact. In pursuit of our mission to improve collective wellbeing, we are examining what we do and how we do it through the lens of the environment

Our ‘SEED’ approach

In 2021 we spent time reassessing what ‘wellbeing’ really means to us. This led to a clearer focus on the connection between climate change and wellbeing in our new strategy, which positions ‘environmental wellbeing’ as a critical component of collective wellbeing.

The SEED approach (Social, Economic, Environmental, and Democratic Wellbeing) defines environmental wellbeing as a state where ‘We all live within the planet’s natural resources’. It recognises that to accomplish our organisational mission and improve collective wellbeing, change needs to happen across all four domains equally.

Improving our environmental practice

In February 2021, Carnegie UK signed the Funder Commitment on Climate Change, which is hosted by the Association of Charitable Foundations. The Commitment asks us to develop our environmental practice across five different areas, and to report on this publicly on an annual basis:

  • Educate and learn
  • Commit resources
  • Integrate
  • Steward our investments for a post-carbon future
  • Decarbonise out operations

Since then, we have undertaken a full eco-audit of the organisation, which presented a range of recommendations for Carnegie UK to improve its environmental practice, ranging from heating and lighting to events, travel, and purchasing, and investments and banking. And we have taken further steps to change our approach to investments, moving our portfolio to a new asset manager and introducing an investments strategy that reflects our values and commitment to taking action on climate change.

To achieve lasting improvements in the identified areas, we have created a Climate Programme made up of people from across the organisation and are currently developing internal policies and practices to help us advance good environmental practice in both our operations and our investments.

Embedding environmental wellbeing

Not every one of our wellbeing programmes will focus primarily on delivering environmental wellbeing outcomes. But our intention is that all of our programmes consider both their environmental impact and what they might learn about or contribute to environmental wellbeing through delivering other wellbeing outcomes.

This will be supported by our eight ‘wellbeing tests’, one of which challenges us to ‘focus on long-termism’. That means that in all of our programmes we will consider how activity will safeguard the collective wellbeing of future generations.

In addition, we are producing a set of tools covering topics including travel, events and purchasing, which support staff to balance trade-offs and make good decisions about environmental practice in programme design and everyday activities.

The year ahead…

In 2022, we will:

  • continue to invest time to ensure our investments, banking and pensions are as fossil-free as possible;
  • work collaboratively with our partner trusts in Andrew Carnegie House to make the building as efficient as possible;
  • develop tools, guides and policies to support staff to consider the environmental impact of operations, purchasing and programme delivery (and collect data to measure our progress);
  • provide more opportunities for staff and trustees to engage, discuss and offer feedback on how we achieve our climate ambitions together;
  • create opportunities to learn about environmental wellbeing, to integrate this into existing programmes and programme development, and to share this learning with others.