Over 70 environmental organisations from across the UK have pledged to be a ‘Force of Nature’ in a campaign designed to ask environmental organisations to do more to diversify the green jobs workforce. 

The campaign calls on the environmental sector to create more accessible pathways into work for young people and will seek to inspire young people from all backgrounds to view jobs in nature as an accessible and rewarding career path.

Led by community charity, Groundwork, organisations such as WWF-UK, Wildlife and Countryside Link, RSPB, The Wildlife Trust, CPRE, Bumblebee Conservation Trust and The Woodland Trust have all signed the pledge to work towards a more inclusive environmental sector by:

  1. Committing to an action plan designed to make their organisation more inclusive and diverse
  2. Adopting recruitment practices that proactively seek to address a lack of diversity in the environmental sector
  3. Opening up pathways for diverse talent by creating entry-level positions with prospects for career progression

Addressing the barriers

According to The Race Report, only 7% in of those working in the environmental charity sector come from an ethnically diverse background, compared to the compared to the all-profession average of 14%.

When looking at the environmental sector as a whole, according to the SOS-UK, The Natural Environment Research Council and the Institute of Environmental Management and Assessment (IEMA), only 4.8% of employees in working in the sector come from an ethnically diverse background, compared to the all-profession average of 12.6%.

In a separate report issued by Research Institute for Disabled Consumers, 57% of disabled people feel excluded from being able to reduce their environmental impact.

Force of Nature aims to support efforts to address this, by providing resources and guidance to support improved recruitment practices, in turn opening the door for more people to get into entry-level roles and creating employment opportunities for thousands of young people across the UK.

New to Nature

The campaign is built on the success achieved through the New to Nature programme, funded by The National Lottery Heritage Fund, that has seen 96 people employed with a variety of environmental organisations from under-represented groups; young people, people from minority ethnic or low-income backgrounds and people with disabilities.  Stephanie, 23, joined The Bat Conservation Trust through New to Nature as a Volunteer Engagement Officer and has ambition to bring more diverse voices to the sector.

I’d like to have a career in the environmental sector. I want to get more people from my own background or people who might be singled out from society into the environmental sector as well. Being South Asian – we have our own ideas about climate change, and we have our own answers to it as well. Having indigenous or native knowledge behind us is also really helpful.

Stephanie, 23, New to Nature Trainee at The Bat Conservation Trust

Ferozah, 23, joined WWF-UK through New to Nature as ‘Wild Isles Officer’ to work on the organisation’s Save Our Wild Isles campaign and with the Education & Youth Engagement department.

New to Nature has been an incredibly exciting and unique opportunity for me as my first job in the environmental sector. The sector lacks in diversity and it is difficult for people from disadvantaged backgrounds to break in. My placement at WWF has been amazing, I have gained so much experience which has built my confidence for my career ahead.

Ferozah, 23, New to Nature Trainee at WWF-UK

The diversity challenge for the environmental sector is well documented, and being addressed through a range of complementary initiatives. Making sure our recruitment and development practices are inclusive and accessible is an important piece of the jigsaw. As a movement in the midst of a climate and nature crisis we need to be as effective as possible at engaging all sections of society in our work. We’ll only do this if our workforce better reflects and understands the diversity of the communities we’re working in and with.

Graham Duxbury, Groundwork’s UK Chief Executive

This campaign reaffirms the environment sector’s drive to become more diverse. There’s still a long road to travel to ensure recruitment, culture and day-to-day practice make the sector as inclusive, welcoming and representative as possible, but this is another step forward. We want to help ensure that everyone has the chance to be a force for nature whether through individual action, their career or being part of a movement. An inclusive and representative environmental movement is a stronger one.

Richard Benwell, CEO of Wildlife and Countryside Link

For too long there have been too few opportunities for too few people to build a career in our sector. If we’re going to avert the worst harms of environmental and biodiversity breakdown, we need a new generation of confident, capable, and connected environmentalists that reflects our fantastically diverse society. Opening up new pathways to careers in the sector, with inclusive and accessible recruitment practices embedded for every role, is a critical first step towards building the workforce we need, and we’re proud to be part of the Force of Nature campaign that can make this happen.”

Billy Knowles, Programme Director, Youth Environmental Service

Notes to Editors

For more information please contact: media@groundwork.org.uk

About Groundwork

Groundwork is a charity working locally and nationally to transform lives in the UK’s most disadvantaged communities.

Groundwork is a federation of charities with a collective mission to take practical action to create a fair and green future in which people, places, and nature thrive. We support communities and businesses to build capacity and resilience in order to tackle hardship, achieve a just transition to net-zero and help nature recover in a way that reduces inequality and leads to healthier, happier lives for all. www.groundwork.org.uk

About New to Nature

New to Nature will offer new, full-time, temporary work placements in nature and landscape organisations across the UK, aiming to increase diversity and enrich the environmental sector.

Funded by The National Lottery Heritage Fund as part of the celebrations to mark the Queen’s Platinum Jubilee and the King’s Coronation, the programme will run until September 2024 and will provide paid work placements for at least 95 people, targeting young people from diverse backgrounds to undertake a range of environmental roles.

New to Nature is delivered through a partnership of Groundwork, The Prince’s Trust, Disability Rights UK, and Mission Diverse. We are working closely with the Youth Environmental Service to ensure the programme acts as a stepping stone for a longer-term journey of change in the sector: www.groundwork.org.uk/new-to-nature

About The National Lottery Heritage Fund

Using money raised by the National Lottery, we inspire, lead and resource the UK’s heritage to create positive and lasting change for people and communities, now and in the future: www.heritagefund.org.uk

As part of the National Lottery’s £23million investment to mark the Queen’s Platinum Jubilee and The King’s Coronation, The National Lottery Heritage Fund is investing £8m to create a lasting legacy for communities and nature across the UK. The funding will empower disadvantaged communities to take action for nature on their doorsteps and enable 95 people to undertake paid placements in the nature heritage sector.

Groundwork and National Lottery Heritage Fund logo