The Royal National Institute of Blind People (RNIB) has developed a much clearer sense of how climate change could impact on its work. Climate change is now one of the topics of its ongoing analysis of external trends.
About the organisation
RNIB helps and empowers blind and partially-sighted people. It offers a range of services to over two million people annually, as well as supporting research into the causes and latest treatments of eye disease. It has an annual turnover of £100 million.
Environmental issues are dealt with by RNIB’s Health, Safety and Environment Team (HSET) and it was members of the team who led RNIB's involvement in The Big Response project.
Before the project, the organisation was already collecting a lot of data on its environmental performance such as waste, water and energy use of its 35 sites. Actual usage was monitored against corporate targets and action plans were in place to reduce the organisation’s carbon footprint. RNIB was aware that, as a large outfit, it would probably be required to participate in the CRC Energy Efficiency Scheme, the first piece of UK legislation obliging large organisations to reduce carbon emissions, starting in April 2010.
A strategic issue?
However, the HSET struggled to generate momentum about environmental issues beyond their own team.
Partly to address this, at the same time as its involvement in The Big Response, RNIB was also establishing a working group on carbon reduction involving the HSET, estate management, IT and procurement, to be chaired by the chief operating officer.
What the project group did
During The Big Response project:
- the project group explored the key impacts that climate change is likely to have on the organisation’s ability to deliver services in future
- a member of The Big Response team interviewed the chief operating officer and the head of business planning and performance to help ensure that the implications of climate change for RNIB are understood more widely across the organisation, particularly in terms of the changing needs of beneficiaries.
As a result of the project, RNIB is now looking at climate change trends as part of its ongoing analysis of its operating environment. As Nicholas Johnston, Head of Business Planning and Performance, says, “The project has definitely made us think about the greater impact climate change will have on our beneficiaries, compared with the general sighted public. We're feeding this in alongside other issues so our directors and trustees can have an overview of all the opportunities and threats out there.”
The organisation is also in a better position to build the delivery issues identified during the project into the implementation of its new strategy. In addition, RNIB will be adopting triple bottom line reporting in its annual report, to help put carbon emissions firmly on the agenda.
Building on knowledge and enthusiasm
Working with a group of people within RNIB who already had responsibility for environmental issues provided an easy way to introduce the project to the organisation.
Tying in with existing mechanisms
Because the Health, Safety and Environment Team led the project at RNIB, they were very quick to understand the operational risks climate change could pose for their organisation. They were able to identify ways to incorporate the organisation's response to climate change into existing policies and procedures for risk and business continuity issues.
Advice and support
- Funding and finance
- Coping with cuts
- Addressing needs
- Managing change
- Planning for the future
- Involving people
- Public Service Delivery
- Governance and leadership
- Compact Advocacy programme
- Campaigning and influencing policy
- Collaborative working
- ICT (information and communication technology)
- Climate change
- People, HR and employment