At this time of economic unrest individuals, businesses and organisations try to find ways to make them stand out from the rest.
Awards are an important mechanism to encourage business and wider society to move in a sustainable direction. There are now more than 400 awards that reward progress in environmental advancement and sustainable development across many disciplines which can make it extremely difficult to know which to choose.
Taking notice of the situation, a group of RSA Fellows pooled their professional experience of environmental issues and set up a Forum for Environmental and Sustainable Development Awards (now known as the RSA Environment Awards Forum) that accredits awards to objective standards. The Forum ensures that there is a benchmark for awards that reward real progress towards sustainability.
The number of environmental and sustainable development awards has grown dramatically over the past few years. This has led to problems for potential sponsors and entrants who are often unsure of the quality and validity of schemes and in turn for the organisers.
The RSA Environment Awards Accreditation Scheme has been in operation for the past 10 years, with the aim of helping to differentiate the large number of award schemes currently in existence. It provides a mechanism with which to identify the best from the rest, giving recognition to those award schemes that meet a robust set of criteria and by doing so demonstrate high quality and validity.
Another important aim of the Accreditation Scheme is to provide good quality feeder schemes for the European Commission’s biennial European Business Awards for the Environment (EBAE). The EBAE play a crucial role in demonstrating progress on environmental and sustainable development issues worldwide. The Forum is tasked with selecting the UK entrants through accredited feeder schemes for the EBAE, meaning that the companies that get through are the cream of the crop in terms of UK environmental innovation. The UK is an exemplar throughout Europe due to its success at the EBAE (it has won 9 consecutive rounds, the last one being in 2010 with Findus Group).
Feeder Schemes are entitled to use the European Awards logo on their award literature to show that they are a recognised Feeder Scheme. Projects that are submitted for entry are also permitted to use the European Awards logo to promote their achievements, this benefit has 3 stages; UK entrant, EU finalist, EU winner.
The RSA Environmental Awards Forum is one of the hidden gems of the Fellowship. It has played a hugely significant role in driving up standards and encouraging sustainable business practice since its beginnings more than ten years ago. Whilst this period of economic turmoil shows no signs of a conclusion, the Forum’s role is perhaps more important that it has ever been.
The RSA Environmental Awards Forum is one of the hidden gems of the Fellowship
Chris Luffingham is Fellowship Networks Manager for the South West, West Midlands and West.