Sustainable Commitment

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How Carbon Literacy makes a difference

An infographic sharing the small actions Fiona takes to reduce her carbon emissions

Probably like a lot of people, I sometimes wonder what I, as just one person, can really do to effect the change we need in the world. The news can be depressing – even overwhelming. It’s easy to fall into a fatalistic mood and think that nothing we do will really change anything.

Becoming Carbon Literate has given me a more optimistic view of things. At work, I’m surrounded by people who care about the challenges of climate change – and are doing something positive about it. I work closely with the Carbon Literacy Cartrefi Cymru (CLCC) consortium, a group of Welsh registered social landlords who came together to improve Carbon Literacy within their organisations by pooling their knowledge and resources. Cynnal Cymru worked with the Carbon Literacy Project to create a certified course tailored to the housing sector, and volunteers from each member organisation learned how to deliver it and then began rolling it out to their colleagues, providing the peer-to-peer training that is a key tenet of Carbon Literacy. I facilitate regular Community of Practice meetings for the consortium to provide a platform for support and networking, and the enthusiasm and hard work of the trainers are inspiring – and have so far resulted in more than 400 people becoming certified as Carbon Literate. With the consortium due to continue into 2023 and beyond, that number will continue to grow. As part of my own Carbon Literacy group pledge I’ve also been working with the Cynnal Cymru team to create content for our newsletter and social media, providing advice and tips on how everyone can reduce their daily carbon footprint.

Outside the office, I’ve been doing my best to reduce my own carbon footprint – and the training has given me the knowledge I need to make meaningful changes. It taught me that some of my preconceptions were wrong, and that something as simple as buying a new pair of jeans can have a huge carbon footprint. I’ve now restricted myself to only buying essential items of clothing, buying second hand if possible, and if not then choosing companies that have good sustainability policies. We’ve also just made the switch to a full electric car – it’s a bit of a step into the unknown, but should significantly lower our household’s carbon footprint. My individual Carbon Literacy pledge was to not take another commercial flight, but I’ve also become much more aware of the importance of the things I do every day. Taking a shower, making a cup of tea, even sending an email – everything we do has a carbon footprint, and thanks to the training, I understand much better now how to make changes to the little things that will have a much larger cumulative effect. The Carbon Literacy training bridges the gap between enthusiasm and knowledge, providing the keystone that informs what we do and the impact we can have. The choices I make now are far more informed, and I am confident that they are making a difference.

Find out more about our Carbon Literacy course

10 years of The Carbon Literacy Project

It was five years ago that I first met Dave Coleman, co-founder and director of the Carbon Literacy Project. He had come to Wales at the invitation of the then Director of the Size of Wales Project. They had met at the historic Paris COP summit where The Project was awarded TAP100 status. Dave presented the Carbon Literacy Project on a sunny morning to a small group of us in Cardiff. At that time, in 2016, the CL Project was only operating in Manchester and Scotland and Dave was looking for partners in other parts of the UK. I listened carefully, asked questions and then reported excitedly to my colleagues in Cynnal Cymru that I had found something that we simply had to get involved with.

We delivered our first Carbon Literacy course in 2017 and five years, 700+ trainees 200+ organisations and 1476 pledges later, I had the great pleasure to attend the tenth birthday party of the Carbon Literacy Project on Tuesday the 1st of November 2022 in Manchester.

In the early days after first meeting Dave, we worked together to introduce Carbon Literacy in Wales. Progress was slow at first but the recent exponential growth of the project in Wales is mirrored across the world. Globally the project is now on 43.5 thousand trainees and just under four thousand organisations engaged. Dave and colleagues have extrapolated the rate of growth and think a target of 1 million people trained could be reached by 2030 or earlier. Each month, the calculations push that target closer to 2022, month by month, as the enquiries, bookings and certifications continue to pour in.

I am very pleased to be able to say that I was the first certified Carbon Literacy trainer in Wales and that Cynnal Cymru was the first organisation in Wales to champion the project. We worked hard to establish it and prove its worth but hey look – this isn’t about me or us. Carbon Literacy is about everyone. We are delighted that more people are offering the training in Wales and as we say to all our clients, our role is to start you off. Ultimately Carbon Literacy works best when the trainee is being trained by someone like them…. When the conversations around climate change are embedded in the context of the participants and when actions are agreed in a collaborative atmosphere by peers challenging each other and holding each other to account. And everyone needs to get better at following up on the actions pledged and calculating/estimating the carbon savings that result.

Being in Manchester for the tenth birthday celebration felt like being part of a family. But every one of us there knew that while we could pause to savour the success, our pleasure could only be short lived. There is still an enormous mountain to climb. Global warming looms over us like a huge wave of destruction threatening everything we love and take for granted. There are powerful forces of ignorance and greed that push against the growing surge of citizen action and enlightened corporate commitment. People are asking us what we should be looking for from COP in Egypt. Our message is clear. Look for nothing. Look only to your own spheres of control and influence. Take care of your world. You are one of a growing number. Tipping points can be positive as well as negative and no-one knows which small action will start the avalanche or spark the revolution. The world does change for better as well as for worse. For one short evening in Manchester we smiled and enjoyed our achievements but the following day it was back to work. Indeed, some important colleagues missed the celebration because they were delivering evening Carbon Literacy training! This does not stop. It can not stop. Cynnal Cymru is ready to help you start your Carbon Literacy journey. We are waiting to hear from you.

Find out more about our Carbon Literacy and Train the Trainer courses

Our pledge to Zero Racism Wales

Cynnal Cymru Statement of Intent

Cynnal Cymru welcomes the breadth and diversity of tradition, belief and culture of the community. It seeks to create, maintain and promote a community in which each person is treated fairly and equally irrespective of race. Cynnal Cymru confirms its commitment to a policy of equal opportunities in employment and service delivery. Individuals will be selected and treated on the basis of their relevant merits and abilities and will be given fair and equal opportunities within Cynnal Cymru. Equally, we confirm our commitment to treating all staff, clients, customers and service users in accordance with this policy. Cynnal Cymru commits to adhere to the Equality Act 2010 and provide fair and equitable services to people from all race and other protected characteristic backgrounds. The aim of the policy is to ensure that no job applicant or user/ visitor/ guest receives less favourable treatment on any grounds which are not relevant to good employment practice. We are committed to a programme of action to make this policy fully effective.

Read our full Zero Racism Wales pledge >>

Find out how you can support a zero-tolerance approach to racism in Wales >>

The Well-being Goals and business

At Cynnal Cymru, we turn sustainability aims into action and accelerate positive impacts towards a low carbon economy, a thriving natural environment and a fair and just society through the provision of advice, training and connections.

Earlier this year, we worked with the Future Generation’s Commissioners Office to identify how the Well-being Act was understood and being used as a sustainable development framework for some large private sector organisations in South Wales. Hafren Dyfrydwy, a provider of water and wastewater treatment services in North East and Mid Wales, invited us to discuss their ongoing contribution to the Well-being Goals at their Board Strategy Day.  Keen to work with leading organisations in Wales, we jumped at the chance.

On 4 October, Karolina and Sarah travelled to Hafren Dyfrdwy to participate in a dedicated workshop built around Hafren Dyfrdwy’s ongoing contribution to the Act; its relevance to the Sustainable Development Goals and the Company’s PR24 planning.  The Board also discussed approaches taken by other large companies in Wales to align their approaches to the Act.

The session was informative, as well as interactive and energetic. For example, we used the Future Generations Prompts as an catalyst to spark the Board’s strategic thinking and group brainstorming activities to map out future strategic activity and progress against each goal.

The workshop highlighted the excellent programme of activity that Hafren Dyfrdwy already does to contribute towards the Well-being Goals and prompted discussion around further opportunities to support their ongoing positive social and environmental impact. 

“Massive thank you to Sarah and Karolina for running a fantastic, creative and energetic session on the Well-being of Future Generations Act at our recent Board Strategy Day. It gave us real food for thought in terms of how we better bring to life our existing activities that supports the Act’s goals, and helped us think more broadly about areas where we can go further. Thank you again.”

(Tom Perry, Strategy Manager)

Dr Karolina Rucinska is our Sustainability advisor who often uses facilitation, research and workshopping methods in work with our clients. Sarah Hopkins is the director of Cynnal Cymru, with an expertise in fair work and sustainability in global supply chains and a firm understanding of the public and private sectors.

If you are interested in finding out more about our work, please contact us at shwmae@cynnalcymru.com to let us know how we can help.

Environmental volunteering: from nurturing nature to growing communities

Environmental volunteering is a great way to support the planet whilst giving back to your local community and there are many opportunities that can fit into your schedule.

Dr Karolina Rucinska, Sustainability Consultant at Cynnal Cymru shares her volunteering experiences with Oasis Cardiff and Good Gym:

This summer I will continue my work as a head gardener at Oasis Cardiff, a charity offering a warm Welsh welcome to asylum seekers and refugees. Oasis is based in a former church with a paved courtyard on a busy road full of takeaways. The area is littered and there are almost no trees or shrubs on the street apart from the ones at Oasis.  My job is to ensure they flower, attract birds and pollinators, and grow from strength to strength.  This year was particularly difficult because of the long periods of rain followed by drought but knowing that life is better with plants around us, keeps me motivated to do more.

When I am not looking at the garden at Oasis, I get involved with tasks at the Good Gym. It is a UK charity whose motto is, “Do good, get fit”. Instead of going to an actual gym, we walk, cycle or run to community centres, gardens, and allotments to do various tasks, from weeding and planting to building sheds and fruit cages. We are often referred to visit elderly people living alone who need help in their gardens too, so all in all, there are a lot of nature-based tasks.  It is hard work at times, but incredibly rewarding.

How to get involved:

Oasis Cardiff – whether to volunteer in the garden or to offer your teaching or cooking skills as a volunteer go to www.oasiscardiff.org/

Good Gym has currently got one branch in Wales, and it is in Cardiff. To get involved go to www.goodgym.org/

For nature-based activities in urban areas, I recommend getting in touch with Social Farms and Gardens or searching for a community gardening group via the RHS website.

Keep Wales Tidy – from organising a one-off clean-up to setting up a new community group, there really is something for everyone.

Volunteer with Keep Wales Tidy

Apply for a free nature garden for your local community.

You could also:

Attend a foraging workshop to truly realise how incredible plants are even in the middle of a city. I was lucky to be invited to one in Bute Park with Tizzy from Forager Cardiff, so I recommend getting in touch.

Take part in citizen science projects – The Springwatch website features a range of projects from hedgehog spotting to beetle sightings, you can contribute to find out how little or much wildlife is on your doorstep.

Make you garden a little more wildlife-friendly – the Gardeners Worlds website has some great tips for August.

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