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3 ways charities and funders can take action on the social impact of environmental crises in 2024

By Liz Gadd 14 February 2024 4 minute read

Charities and funders have a crucial role to play in creating a fairer and greener future. We need to tackle the impacts of environmental crises and maximise opportunities to improve people’s lives at the same time.  

But how can we make 2024 a year for less talk and more action? What’s holding us back? (apart from the obvious funding issues.) What are our biggest opportunities?  

To make a bigger difference, it’s time for us to:  

  • Stand shoulder to shoulder to reject culture wars–leading by example.  
  • Work together to find win-win solutions to improve lives–avoiding the temptation to act as the organisation with all the answers. 
  • Lift up diverse voices to find solutions for everyone.

Stand shoulder to shoulder to reject culture wars 

As we hurtle towards the inevitable general election, it’s increasingly likely that environmental issues will be used as a political ‘wedge issue’. The media risks polarising views around the cost of action, and the public lacks confidence in proposed policy solutions.  

Those who have done the least to cause climate change and nature loss should not pay the greatest price for redressing the damage. And failing to act is categorically not an option.  

Environmental action must unite us, not divide us. Charities need to lead by example. 

The siloed nature of social and environmental charities in the UK charity sector is a barrier to collectively rebuffing polarised debate. With urgency, we must collaborate on policy advocacy and proposed practical solutions that will help to meet the impacts of environmental crises for everyone. This includes changes in how we feed our families, heat our homes, travel and more.  

We hope that our Everyone’s Environment programme can help the sector to work together. We’re keen to work with other organisations and collaborations.  

Work together to find win-win solutions to improve lives 

As ever more charities consider their role in addressing the climate and nature crises, there is new work emerging all the time. While accelerated action is urgent, rapidly increasing uncoordinated action comes with risks.  

At best, we risk stalling action as everyone shuffles to find their space in the charity ecosystem and/or we miss opportunities to increase our impact. At worst, we risk charities duplicating effort or undermining each other.  

Limited capacity and the intrinsically competitive funding environment in the UK charity sector can encourage charities to seek to be the ones with ‘the answers’ rather than contributors to ‘collective answers’.  

Charities can self-audit their behaviours by considering themselves as part of a wider ecosystem rather than an island (or two) unto themselves. But more strategic, systemic collaboration must be actively nourished by conveners and funders.  

2024 is the year funders must step up to enable deeper, wider, and swifter action on the social impacts of the environmental crises and to encourage collaboration between and within subsectors to achieve this.  

The Everyone’s Environment programme will shortly be launching a funders learning group, which will provide a space for conversations between funders on their actions to address the social impacts of the environmental crises. 

Lift up diverse voices to find solutions for everyone 

For policy to work, it needs to work for all. Environmental activists are the trailblazers in a conversation that non-environmental activists must now join.  

Sadly, those who are most likely to be negatively affected are those least likely to be in a position to engage in environmental campaigns:  

While citizens assemblies play an important role in broadening inclusion in policy debate, they risk building the next generation of well informed ‘usual suspects’. Policymakers and environmental organisations should also collaborate with social charities–who already hold relationships with, and the trust of, the groups most affected by the environmental crises–and not just those active in environmental campaigning.  

And social charities have both an ethical obligation and the agency to raise the voices of those they work with and for in environmental decision making. 

Three things you can do right now 

You might think these are good ideas, but not be sure where to start with them. Here are three practical steps:  

  • Join us—if you’re interested in getting involved in Everyone’s Environment, find out more about current opportunities to collaborate and share learning. 
  • Talk about the social impacts of the environmental crises with your teams, senior leaders, and trustees—consider what it means for the people you support, your strategy, and your advocacy. Our publications and events can help you. 
  • Increase funding for charities to act on the social impacts of the environmental crises—if you’re a funder, we can help you to explore where you might be able to support the cause, get in touch. 


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