This is a guest blog by Nadia Al Yafai, Head of Mutuality & Impact at Royal London Group. SSE and Royal London are seeking social enterprises to apply for the second round of the Royal London Changemakers Programme. In 2022, we’ll support social entrepreneurs seeking to enable a fair and inclusive transition to Net Zero. Here, Nadia shares thoughts on what social innovations in this space could look like.
Post COP26, we know that the systems we live in, and the way we live has to change. But those changes, in lifestyle, consumption, transport, land use, and investments, amongst many other elements, have a direct impact on others’ livelihoods, jobs and communities, locally and globally. Enabling a Just Transition means we need to act now to ensure that everyone has an equal chance in the future we build, and that no one is left behind. Therefore, we need to ensure that climate justice and social impact go hand in hand.
Moving fairly to a sustainable world
At Royal London, our purpose-driven focus is on two key impact areas: ‘helping build financial resilience’ and ‘moving fairly to a sustainable world’. We tackle these through longstanding partnerships with charities, and through the Royal London Changemakers Programme, funding and supporting social entrepreneurs who work in these areas.
New ideas, bold disruptions
Enabling a fair and inclusive transition to Net Zero, is a fast-evolving area. Research Royal London supported with Business in the Community shows that there is a way to go with understanding the issue, impacts, challenges and opportunities in this space. Therefore, we need to move faster, be much bolder, and develop inventive, scalable approaches and disruptive ideas that consider the intersection of inequality issues. We must demonstrate the societal, environmental, equitable and commercial opportunities that could be harnessed.
Here are some of the areas that could be tackled, and why we think that matters.
Social innovation areas to explore
Bringing together communities will enable civic engagement, co-creation and diverse stakeholder voices to advocate, decide, innovate, (re)solve or mitigate local or global solutions. This can help tackle systemic issues, increase intergenerational or cross-cultural group engagement, support young people and disadvantaged groups to be empowered, and support SMEs to engage. This could also include how we support organisations – whether profit or not-for-profit -to take a just transition lens to their work.
Creating sustainable economic opportunities
Helping to direct investment (resource, time, money) to support the transition, including enabling the development of new industry, access to, or training for, supply chains, carbon literacy or green jobs. This could include how we ‘green’ all jobs, organisations or industries, or supporting those affected by the transition, to reskill or retrain. Enterprises may take a place-based focus with a clear plan to scale innovations. We want to ensure that the most vulnerable areas, people and communities, are able to access emerging opportunities.
Enabling green tech and sustainable design and infrastructure
Tackling energy and retrofit challenges, including tackling fuel poverty and energy efficiency, and cost challenges of these, re-imagining urban and rural infrastructure, agriculture. Potential areas to explore include ‘greening’ buildings and communities, alternative innovations, supporting regeneration and democratisation of access and power, or enabling more local ownership.
Pivoting or expanding existing climate / environmental or social and inequality solutions and innovations
Taking a lens to existing solutions and incorporating a Just Transition approach (addressing the societal impacts, to enable both people and nature to thrive), can help unlock new ideas. Ideas could include enabling more access to, and understanding of, nature and the value of biodiversity, or the global nature of net zero. It could be about enabling increased access to green spaces, to support increased health and wellbeing, aligned to how that might then support a just transition.
There are clearly lots of areas to explore, and we’re interested in ideas that are bold and new, and that combine climate justice and enabling a positive social impact.