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Climate and environmental leadership principles

Give the climate crisis the urgent attention it needs.

These leadership principles have been formed by ACEVO’s climate crisis member working group. The principles provide a shared commitment for us to

  • Acknowledge the scale of the crisis
  • Be ambitious in our pursuit of climate justice, both as leaders of individual organisations and as a collective voice for civil society
  • Act wherever we can to create progress

We know that this is a journey, and every organisation will need to set its own targets, but this pledge provides a framework for progress and a community in which to share learning and mistakes.



Recognise and acknowledge that the climate, extinction and biodiversity crises are systemic and advancing threats to the sector’s ability to create the impact it seeks.


Acknowledge that the climate and nature crises have already and will continue to disproportionately affect certain groups, both in the UK and globally. They will have specific and significant impacts on people living in the global south and people from marginalised communities, including people of colour, people living in poverty, and disabled people.



Champion the need for ambitious leadership within the voluntary sector specifically, in light of our commitment across a range of causes to improving outcomes for people, animals, and the natural world.


Work towards a just transition to net-zero emissions, strategizing and acting now to support a transition that will help protect the communities and places we work with from further harm.


Speak publicly and confidently about the climate, using personal and organisational communications platforms to support campaigns asking policymakers for change. Wherever possible, I will contribute to these campaigns with expertise from the communities we serve, to build an intersectional picture of the impact of climate breakdown.


Commit to sharing and learning alongside peers in the sector, taking time to review our actions and the changing situation and adapt collectively.



Take practical steps within my organisation and networks to understand our emissions and how climate breakdown intersects with our mission and charitable objectives. This work includes but is not limited to:


Measuring the carbon footprint of our operations and service delivery and making public a plan to reduce this, and to regularly consider realistic targets for a just transition to net zero.


Exploring the explicit and implicit intersections between our mission and climate justice, and using this to inform the choices we make about our strategy, services, contracts, communications and campaigns.


Asking questions of suppliers and partners, including investment managers and pension providers where relevant, to make clear our organisational commitment to using the most sustainable providers possible and changing suppliers where we feel this is appropriate


Seeking board level support to embed climate justice whichever sector we work in, and update trustees on this work on an agreed timescale.

We have tried to keep the language in this pledge accessible, but we have provided a glossary of some key terms for anyone who is not familiar with everything you have read. Additionally, we have a page of external resources, which includes several information papers concerning how marginalised groups in the UK and globally will be disproportionately impacted by the climate crisis. ACEVO has also formed some tools and templates around the climate crisis for members.

How to sign up

We would like everyone who signs up to provide information outlining the practical actions their organisation will take, which will be a useful resource for leaders starting their journey in this space. CEOs, chairs of trustees or senior leaders can make this pledge as long as you are able to send us a written commitment or action statement about your plans, which will appear here. 

This could consist of a statement outlining your commitments in each area – acknowledgement, ambition and action. It could link to any material already published on your own websites such as blogs or strategies; files (for example your organisation’s sustainability policy or action plan) in a format which you are happy to make public; or any other information you are able to share.

We will not add your name to the list until you have sent information to support initial accountability against the pledge, and also ensure that the pledge webpage gathers learning and ideas from all signatories.

Not an ACEVO member?

If you have any queries please email
or call 020 7014 4600.