The environment and the third sector

While environmental protests have had a big voice in recent years, we have relatively little knowledge about the wider environmental third sector.

This project examines the activities and contributions of a broad range of environmental organisations, as well as the extent to which wider elements of the third sector are responding to environmental challenges, in particular climate change.

The three year work stream is looking at:

1. Mapping the environmental third sector

The extent and contribution of environmental third sector organisations (TSOs); the policy context and sector infrastructure within which environmental TSOs operate (see Working Paper 98)

2. Mainstreaming the environment

The variety, take-up and influence of environmental performance tools and techniques; the extent to which the mission, policies and programmes of TSOs are affected by the climate change agenda. See Working Paper 36)

3. Promoting sustainable living

The form and effectiveness of practical interventions developed by TSOs to promote sustainable practices by individuals, households and organisations. (see Working Paper 59)

Key questions

What do we know about the environmental third sector?

What is the size and scope of the sector within the UK? What issues does it focus on? How many members do environmental TSOs have? How is the environmental third sector financed? How does the broader policy and sector infrastructure influence environmental TSOs?

How is the third sector as a whole developing environmental practices?

How are third sector organisations reducing their environmental footprint? How are third sector organisations measuring their environmental impact, with which tools, and why? How are TSOs changing to mainstream the environment, and what can we learn from this? See Working Paper 36)

How are third sector organisations promoting pro-environmental projects?

How are TSOs promoting (and innovating) pro-environmental behaviour? How successful are TSOs at changing the behaviours of individuals, households and organisations and what are the reasons for this? What are the limits, and limiters, of third sector pro-environmental interventions? How can we learn from the environmental third sector in developing pro-environmental behaviour? (see Working Paper 59)

Current work

The research programme commenced with a comprehensive literature review exploring the environment and the third sector. This formed the basis of a number of outputs, including a series of working papers, which includes a review of the evaluation tools available to TSO's and papers looking at the role of the third sector in promoting environmental behaviour change.  

Practitioner information guides will also be produced and published on this website. An appropriate methodology is currently being developed. This is being informed by the literature review, and will be enhanced by an initial period of pilot work.


Professor Graham Smith
Dr Milena Büchs