Addressing the challenge of climate change

Addressing the challenge of climate change

Everyone has a role to play in addressing the climate crisis. SEWF recognises that some of our activity could be environmentally damaging unless balanced with a range of measures to address the climate emergency. In January 2020, we released our Climate Change Strategy that addresses our environmental impact by working on carbon offset, digital participation, and ‘waste-free’ events. Our 2020 event SEWF Digital changed the way we convene the movement and advancing our strategy. Review the SEWF Digital Event Report to understand some of the ways SEWF Digital is impacting on our Climate Change Strategy and organisation moving forward.

Our Climate Change Strategy

Our Climate Change Strategy is consistent with our vision for a global impact economy that produces systemic change resulting in a zero waste, zero carbon society. Our annual Global Forum is critical to realising this vision; it builds connection, inspires fellowship, and engages both nascent and established social entrepreneurs in their cutting-edge work of creating a global impact economy. Our Global Forum and other events have the potential of a large carbon footprint. We’re working to reduce this footprint while also purchasing verified carbon credits to offset our impact by 120%. In doing so, we position SEWF as a carbon-positive organisation.

The Strategy addresses three key themes: offsetting the impact of SEWF travel, increasing digital participation, and greening the event. In addition, it focuses on monitoring and reporting so that performance can be continually improved. Future implementation of the strategy will include active awareness raising and community support activities allowing SEWF to demonstrate leadership, inform, and support social enterprises and others as we all work to address the climate emergency.

Travel and Carbon Offset

Beginning with SEWF 2021 (SEWF Digital in 2020 was fully virtual), all participants at our Global Forum will pay a mandatory carbon offset fee. The fee is calculated by estimating average journeys to the event using regional hubs around the world and converting mileage to cost using Sustainable Travel International’s Carbon Offset Calculator. The total cost is then evenly distributed among all participants. Stakeholder consultations informed SEWF’s decision to implement a mandatory offset system based on estimated journeys. To address issues of accessibility and inclusion arising from this system, 50% discounts will be offered to those from low-income start-ups, those from developing/emerging economies, and students. These offset payments will be shared between an international and local partner each year.

SEWF C.I.C. team and Board travel is also calculated and all air travel and car journeys are offset through the global standard operator, Trees for Life. Like SEWF C.I.C., Trees for Life is also based in Scotland.

Digital engagement

To minimise environmental damage, SEWF developed capacity and built a platform that will allow thousands of participants to engage with our events virtually. In 2020, we hosted our first ever fully virtual global event, SEWF Digital (see SEWF Digital Event Report where carbon impacts of virtual event are also discussed). While we recognise the in-person networking at our events is critical to building an effective movement, we also recognise there are more ways we can convene at these events that does less harm to the planet. We are leveraging digital platforms and remote meetings to maximise our reach while minimising our environmental impact.

‘Waste-free’ event

When hosting physical events, SEWF aims to have green events. We will take measures to reduce environmental impact and meet our “waste free” objectives. We will also inform and encourage participants to adopt these measures at their own events while we continue to help expand their capacity to host virtual events and engage digitally. We will also endeavor: to be plastic free; to use local, and ideally social enterprise, recycling and catering companies; and to provide options for green hotels and homestays.

We will report on our outcomes and adjust our strategy as necessary. The first update and adjustment will occur before the end of 2020 after the conclusion of SEWF Digital. If you would like to learn more about our efforts, download our full climate change strategy document.

Our Carbon Offset Partners

These partners will be reviewed annually, always keeping in mind our commitment to local resilience and global impact. For SEWF 2021, our international offset partner is the SELCO Foundation in India and our local partner is Community Forests International based in Atlantic Canada. Our current offset partner for SEWF Board and team travel is Trees for Life, an organisation with a gold standard of accreditation for its carbon offset work in the Scottish Highlands.