1 November 2018
More than 130 environmental practitioners from organisations including Historic England, Manchester University, Cancer Research UK, Historic Environment Scotland, RSPB, National Trust and Guide Dogs came together on October 17th at the Law Society in London for Fit for the Future’s annual members conference, The Network Harvest.
With the world’s leading climate scientists having just delivered the IPCC report stating that ‘urgent and unprecedented changes are needed’ in order to for global warming to be kept to a maximum of 1.5C, the conference theme, Taking Charge of Change, couldn’t have been more relevant. First and foremost the event was a key opportunity for environmental practitioners from across the UK to get together as part of a larger community as they take action to ensure their organisations become climate-friendly, adaptive and resilient. The network works on the principle that the best approach is to learn from and collaborate with each other.
After an introduction from the Network chair, Sir Ed Davey, Julie Hirigoyen, Chief Executive of the UK Green Building Council gave a rousing key-note speech with a powerful call to action for the practitioners involved in the network.
“If last week's IPCC report taught us anything it's that time is of the essence. As sustainability professionals, all of us in this room need to urgently step up to what is probably the greatest challenge of our time. We are at a pivot point in history, and I really strongly believe that everyone in this room has a part to play in that…”
“…We are the first generation to know categorically that we are destroying the planet, and the last to be able to do something about it.“
During the practitioner-led case studies that followed it was heartening to hear about some of the ways in which network members are already playing their part. Presenters delivered an ‘inspiration re-charge’ with highlights including:
Climate change is already having a significant impact on the land and 30,000+ buildings looked after by organisations in the network, and adaptation was therefore a major focus at this year’s event. Simon McLellan, Head of Climate Programmes for Government at the Met Office, introduced the new Climate Projections due to be released on 27th November. These will include much more in-depth information than is currently available, with monthly projections at 22km resolutions. The scope of the projections will also increase, with data such as sea level and storm surge projections given up to the end of century. Updates will enable individuals and organisations to really make use of the projections, and we’ll be supporting our members to do so over the coming year.
Tools for Taking Practical Action
The network has a strong learning focus, and the afternoon’s workshops honed in on the issues that are currently most relevant and challenging for members. These included tackling the plastic waste crisis strategically, the WELL building standards, effectively communicating climate change and taking a strategic approach to climate change adaptation. Some of the key takeaways from the workshops were:
The day ended with Fit for the Future’s first ever awards, recognising the achievements of individual members, and celebrating those who have been particularly generous with their time and expertise to support peers within the network. Sir Ed Davey and Sarah Butler Sloss, Founder Director of Ashden, presented the ‘Change Maker’ award to Historic Environment Scotland, ‘Knowledge Sharer’ award to Caroline Cattini of Historic England, ‘Innovation’ award to Forestry Commission and ‘Member of the Year’ to Anna Frizzell of RNIL.
We are happy to hear that practitioners felt 'motivated', 'inspired' and 'a sense of community- working together for a common cause' thanks to the event. The Fit for the Future team are also feeling a renewed sense of purpose as we plan our next round of events and opportunities for members to network, learn and share solutions. A new programme of events, tours, seminars and meetings are currently in development, and details will be circulated in the coming weeks. In the meantime, you can take a look at our remaining autumn events here.