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Posted: 21 September 2020

Towards a greener Arcadia

As an environmental funder, we know that the climate and biodiversity crises demand urgent, widescale and joint action. Business as usual is simply not an option. In 2018 our founders asked that we do more to ‘practice what we preach’, and work towards running Arcadia’s operations in a more environmentally sustainable way.

An ever-greener Arcadia made perfect sense, and we were eager to start. We began looking critically at how we work, and what needs to change. We asked: what are our priorities? What do we need to learn? How do we reduce our environmental footprint and how do we measure ourselves? How can we encourage others to do the same? What is the cost and the savings of running a more environmentally friendly organization? What are our blind spots and are we really willing to change?

This is a journey. Here is where we are so far:



We acknowledge

For decades scientists have warned that human activity is causing global temperatures to rise and pushing critical natural resources to the point of disrepair. The experts have been clear: this will have devastating effects on life on earth. We now know that the window of opportunity to take action is narrowing fast. Inaction will lead to catastrophic impact on our environment and our communities within our lifetime.

We are committed

Sustainability in its broadest sense lies at the heart of our funding programmes. We believe that nature-based solutions – restoring and protecting ecosystems – are crucial to tackling the climate crisis. Our first grant, in 1998, was towards nature and biodiversity conservation. We have since increased our giving to protecting and restoring endangered nature. We aim to give more than half of our annual giving to conservation and to supporting leaders and activists that fight for better environmental policy and environmental justice.

But this goes beyond our environmental grants. Sadly, it is the world’s most vulnerable communities who are – and will continue to be – worst hit by the effects of global heating. Our cultural grants document our most endangered heritage in order to support its protection and preservation in the face of human-made environmental and societal change. And our commitment to open access reflects our belief that the ability for anyone, anywhere to find and use reliable evidence underpins the battle to preserve diverse environments and cultures, and the creation of a healthier, more prosperous and sustainable world for us all.

We learn

We aim to continuously improve and learn from others. We are part of the Environmental Funders’ Network Climate Funders Group, the Fit for the Future network [link] and the UK Funders’ Commitment on Climate Change. We are also keen to learn from our peers and our grantees who are developing and implementing sustainability policies.

We work with others

Our work is dependent on trust and empowering others so they can do their best. This is why we partner with those who share our values and mission. We want to ensure that our grantees and others we work with operate in an ethical manner, prioritize the environment and treat their teams and their communities with utmost fairness and respect.

We measure

We have a carbon management strategy in place. Once a year we use Defra’s guidelines to calculate the emissions associated with our operations, mainly from energy and travel. Knowing how much we emit helps us to set new targets and gradually reduce our emissions.

We reduce

How and what we consume can make a difference. We have policies to help minimize waste, energy use and air travel. We minimise printing and run paperless meetings (yes, before Covid19 too!); we only serve vegetarian food at meetings and events; we use video conferencing and try to avoid flying. We also prefer suppliers that run their business in an ethical and environmentally-conscious manner. This website was created with energy efficiency in mind (this also helps those who have limited bandwidth).

We offset

We buy carbon credits to support community-led agroforestry work in Asia and Africa. These offsets are certified by Plan Vivo [link], and we treat them as a last resort for emissions we are not yet able to reduce.

We talk about it

To our staff, to our grantees, to our peers, to those who make decisions. The climate crisis will affect everyone and time is running out fast. It is our responsibility to ensure that we are informed and keep the problem and the solutions on the agenda.

If you want to know more about our sustainability work, please get in touch with info@arcadiafund.org.uk

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