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ASSOCIATION TRANSFORMATION

Your Environmental Response to Membership: Transition to Net-Zero

We spend a lot of our time talking about the way in which associations and membership organisations can contribute to sustainable development, social responsibility and how to tackle the unprecedented global challenges that we face beyond the unprecedented challenge of pandemic.

Back in 2015, the UN Global Compact and the International Chamber of Commerce published a report highlighting the contributions that a business and associations can commit to addressing climate change, climate action, and the SDG Sustainable Development Goals. Yet here we are six years later and though some membership bodies have made excellent progress, there are others who are struggling to understand net zero or recognising their role within civic society to advance climate action.

We found that within a year, we'd gone completely paperless, (working completely in the cloud) and had saved a lot of money on travel and energy. We transformed our business model and within a year and a half, we didn't need our office anymore.

This of course begs the question of what tools are available to begin to change the culture within associations?

We spoke with Alison Heppenstall Director at CAFA and also b2b for her thoughts and insights...

"Our first climate NGO, which was called the carbon trust. As part of our work for them, we were asked to complete a small business sustainability toolkit. All of their providers really needed to be demonstrating Climate Commitment. As a small business, we thought that this would be incredibly taxing, but we went through their toolkit because we were desperate to work with them as a client and to support them. We found that within a year, we'd gone completely paperless, (working completely in the cloud) and had saved a lot of money on travel and energy. We transformed our business model and within a year and a half, we didn't need our office anymore.

We learned a great deal about the role of industry and business in the climate agenda. We saw firsthand the role that organisations were playing and the fact that a lot of them were not moving fast enough.

So, we launched CAFA Collective (Climate Action For Associations) - the collective power and influence of associations in the movement towards net zero and carbon neutrality. We've got big ambitions and we want all associations to sign up to the CAFA Collective to drive net zero and accelerate their business, business professionals and the businesses and industries they represent to turn towards change."


A good step for membership organisations to take in terms of supporting the members they represent with their own move towards carbon neutrality is to really get under the skin of what the current impact of that industry or profession is at the moment. The only way to do that is really through research, asking the membership some pretty basic questions to get honest answers on a really critical subject.

This is not just a piece of work, or an initiative or a program - it’s about embedding the language of climate action into an association’s everyday conversations, in the same way we talk about equality, diversity and inclusivity.

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