How the Funder Commitment helped us prioritise our environmental aims

10 October 2022

Michelle Molyneux, charity manager of The Worshipful Company of Grocers, and an ACF trustee, explains how signing the Funder Commitment on Climate Change added a remit and focus to the Company’s environmental thinking.

This year The Grocers’ Charity, the charitable arm of the London Livery Company The Worshipful Company of Grocers  joined 100 other UK funders and became signatories of  the Funder Commitment on Climate Change. The Commitment, hosted by ACF, is a holistic, high-level framework supporting funders to play a part in tackling the causes and impacts of climate change. 

As some background, the Worshipful Company of Grocers was first set up in 1180 as the Pepperers then Grossers as the Guild members dealt in importing pepper and spices and later other commodities. Today we support long-term bursaries and in-kind commitments to educational institutions to help students who benefit from financial assistance, and students who benefit from mentoring and work experience opportunities. We support the preservation of churches we have an historic link with, and, for our open grants, we support charities that improve the quality of life for people and communities.

Climate Action Risk Register

Having made the Commitment, and with this remit and focus, we first created a Climate Action Risk Register to annually measure our progress, and we consider environmental issues as part of our investment strategy. 

Additionally, the Company is undertaking an energy and carbon emissions evaluation across all its properties. Plus, on 20 March this year, over 60 members planted an incredible 750 trees in Oundle, Northamptonshire. The idea is for the Company to do something that will contribute to the local environment and play a small part in helping to manage climate change. The trees will eventually reduce carbon emissions, and the improved wetland will be an even more efficient carbon sink.  

Last year our plans to focus on the environment were interrupted by the pandemic. Fortunately, this year we funded more charities addressing climate change.

In particular, we are helping young adults voice concerns to government, and helping young people learn about the impact human activity has on the natural world through expert advised school lessons. The University of Bath has published data collected from 10,000 young people (16-25 years) in ten countries to better understand the thoughts, feelings and functional impact associated with climate change which we’ve considered in our thinking.

Through ACF’s Funders Collaborative Hub, I connected with the Co-op Foundation to help me think about how to describe our environment funding priorities. This led to describing each funding priority in more detail.

Below is the learning applied from both the Commitment on Climate Change aims and my conversation with Aruna at the Co-op Foundation

Connecting people with nature and environmental issues 

Activities for people to get involved in nature or environmental issues across the UK 
Engaging people of all ages living in urban areas who are disconnected from nature 
Activities that particularly benefit those who are most affected by climate change 

Countering the effects of pollution and climate change 

Working towards reducing greenhouse gas emissions, such as reducing pollution and reducing food waste. 
The project may be not new but is different to the mainstream or status quo (this may include past defunct practices) 
A new or other methods of delivering something which already exists 

Conservation on land and at sea 

Collaborations with landholders and farmers 
Marine projects work with coastal communities and companies to reduce, e.g. plastic waste. 

Supporting the protection and survival of plants and animals 

Regeneration of woodland and wetlands to support the plants, animals and organisms that have a critical but under-appreciated role in the web of life
Enables a new generation of UK specialists to inspire future conservation

I hope this learning is of interest and might encourage other funders to see how becoming Funder Commitment signatories can help progress your own plans.  

Want to know more?

Funder Commitment on Climate Change

Climate justice - book here for this ACF event, online, on 31 October, 2pm-3.30pm