New times, new connections: civil society action on climate change, which explores climate-related activities underway across civil society, was launched on 28 October 2010. The report examines whether these activities reflect awareness of the links between climate change and core missions and the kinds of actions and influence that have developed in response.
Wider civil society organisations have a hugely significant role in tackling climate change and there are real imperatives for a much broader range of organisations to think strategically about what it means for their work and beneficiaries. It has the potential to roll back progress on a wide range of goals, including efforts to tackle poverty and inequalities and to protect the vulnerable. Once the links are made, the power of civil society organisations to influence decision makers with compelling new perspectives will be invaluable in securing more rapid and ambitious progress on climate change.
New times, new connections examines the direction of civil society engagement with climate change and whether it is leading to the kinds of influence that is needed. It covers 222 organisations and 242 activities, drawing on a comprehensive survey, a one-day workshop, desk research and 36 in-depth interviews. The study is also informed by Green Alliance’s experience in other relevant initiatives, such as the third sector task force and the Big Response project.
Key findings point to the important role of umbrella bodies in supporting the groups they work with in engaging with climate change, and of not making assumptions about whether activities to reduce organisational footprint will automatically lead to more substantive considerations of the links between climate change and core work. Active support for organisations in making that transition will be needed.
Two online maps of climate change action at the very local level in rural North Dorset and inner city Newcastle were also developed as part of this project. Through a participative process, groups in the two areas were able to put their activities onto an online map of their community. The maps continue to be a live and developing resource managed by Dorset Agenda 21 and the Newcastle CVS and can be viewed at: www.mappingforchange.org.uk
This work has been supported by the Calouste Gulbenkian Foundation.