More than 130 environmental practitioners from organisations including Historic England, Manchester University, Cancer Research UK, Historic Environment Scotland, RSPB, National Trust and Guide Dogs came together on October 17th at the Law Society in London for Fit for the Future’s annual members conference, The Network Harvest.
Fit for the Future is a collaborative environmental network for practitioners, set up by the National Trust and Ashden in 2013. It now has 103 organisations in its membership primarily from the not-for-profit, heritage, public and cultural sectors. These organisations collectively look after more than 30,000 buildings and an area of land roughly the size of North Yorkshire.
With the theme of ‘Taking Charge of Change,’ the conference was an important opportunity for practitioners to network, share solutions and begin new collaborations as they seek to become climate-friendly, adaptive and resilient.
The day began with an introduction from Sir Ed Davey MP, Chair of the Network, and key-note speech from Julie Hirigoyen, Chief Executive of the UK Green Building Council.
“If last week’s IPCC report taught us anything it’s that time is of the essence. As sustainability professionals, all of us in this room need to urgently step up to what is probably the greatest challenge of our time. We are at a pivot point in history, and I really strongly believe that everyone in this room has a part to play in that. “ Julie Hirigoyen
Climate change is already having a significant impact on the land and buildings looked after by organisations in the network, and adaptation was therefore a major focus at this year’s event. Simon McLellan, Head of Climate Programmes for Government at the Met Office, introduced the new Climate Projections due to be released in November and gave insight into how organisations can utilise them.
Network members also shared their progress and learnings. Dr Mairi H Davies, Climate Change Manager at Historic Environment England, presented an adaptation case study focusing on the Duff House estate, and a workshop with Keith Jones, Environmental Practices Advisor at the National Trust explored how organisations can take a strategic approach to climate change adaptation.
The day ended with Fit for the Future’s first ever awards, recognising the achievements of individual members, and celebrating those who have been particularly generous with their time and expertise to support peers within the network. Sir Ed Davey and Sarah Butler Sloss, Founder Director of Ashden, presented the ‘Change Maker’ award to Historic Environment Scotland, ‘Knowledge Sharer’ award to Caroline Cattini of Historic England, ‘Innovation’ award to Forestry Commission and ‘Member of the Year’ to Anna Frizzell of RNIL.
Practitioners felt ‘motivated’, ‘inspired’ and ‘a sense of community- working together for a common cause’ thanks to the event. You can take a look at the day in pictures here and read more about the network and its achievements.