Southwark Environment Forum
(SEF): Evolving & moving forward?
On the 20 November 2008, we invited SEF members to a meeting to discuss the future of the forum. The
first part of this document summarises the points of this discussion whilst the second survey part gives
members an opportunity to have their say on SEF and how it could be revitalised and go forward.
1. Summary of the changing context (SSEP & capacity issues)
In 2008, as the result of a new performance framework for local government, a Local Area Agreement (LAA)
was signed between the Southwark Alliance and the Government.
This LAA included ‘stretch targets’ agreed between the Southwark Alliance
(http://www.southwarkalliance.org.uk/) and the government for 35 local priorities (to be met by 2011). These
priorities included the five sustainability ‘themes’ outlined below:
1. Climate change: 8.5% reduction in per capita CO2 emissions borough-wide
2. Recycling: increase in household waste recycled and composted
3. Street cleaning: improvement in street and environmental cleanliness
4. Transport modal shift: reduction in the number of children travelling to school by car
5. Biodiversity: improvement in local sites of biodiversity importance
Although the Council is the lead, the targets will only be met by effective partnership working. The climate
change target is a good example here. The Council is in the process of measuring its own carbon footprint
but based on calculations of other London boroughs, it is likely that it is responsible for only 4-7% of total
borough emissions. Whilst this a significant proportion, it’s obvious that there is no way that the Council
could reduce borough-wide emissions by 8.5% by 2011 on its own. In this instance, since 53% of emissions
come from the business sector, a key priority will be to identify the organisations with the largest individual
footprints – and support them to act.
To coordinate this new way of working, a new Alliance sub-group is needed, and if it is to be effective it must
be made up of organisations with the capacity to deliver significant change. Although efforts were made last
year to encourage these organisations to engage with SEF, this was not successful and SEF, as a
predominantly grassroots group, does not have the necessary delivery capacity. Therefore a new strategic
forum - the Southwark Sustainable Environment Partnership (SSEP) has been set up. The key point about
SSEP is that it will enable the community groups involved in SEF to have a clear voice but will also engage
the larger organisations with the necessary delivery capacity (more information on SSEP below).
In addition to these changes, the Council’s small sustainability team now has to report and develop work
programmes around three other new climate change indicators (relating to the Council’s own carbon
footprint, the progress made to adapting local services and infrastructure and reduction in local fuel poverty).
Unfortunately however, we have no additional resource, which means the team will need to reduce
its administrative support to SEF. Your opinion on alternatives is requested in the questionnaire
For more on LAAs, go to: http://www.communities.gov.uk/localgovernment/performanceframeworkpartnerships/localareaagreements/
2. More about the new strategic group - SSEP
The remit of the new group is to:
o Oversee of the environmental aspects of the Community Strategy and new Local Area Agreement
o Monitor implementation
o Coordinate services between local statutory and other key delivery orgs in borough
The table below outlines the current SSEP membership:
Sector Member organisation
Public o Southwark Council
o Southwark PCT
o Environment Agency
o Transport for London
o Rep of Southwark Housing Assoc. Group
o London South Bank Uni.
Business sector o Better Bankside BID
o Team London Bridge BID
Community sector o Groundwork Southwark
o Community Action Southwark
o SEF (x2) (revolving seats?)
o Southwark Transport Forum
SEF presentation on the SSEP
o SEF can forward 2 representatives to attend each SSEP meeting. These representatives can be
individual members of SEF or representatives of member organisations and can be permanent;
serve for a fixed period – or could revolve according to the theme.
o In addition, the transport forum (which includes Southwark Cyclists and Living Streets as members),
has a seat as does Groundwork (representing itself, as major provider of biodiversity-related
services in the borough)
o The first SSEP meeting in November had representation from Marilyn Donahue from East Dulwich
SNUB and Alastair Hanton (doubling up as the transport forum rep).
o These representatives will attend the next meeting in January to report back on an item. After that it
is up to SEF members how they wish to organise SSEP representation.
o It is likely that SSEP will meet bi-monthly, on Tuesday afternoons and start to focus on specific LAA
sustainability themes in turn.
o SEF might, therefore, wish to forward representatives from organisations with specialist knowledge
relating to the theme (for example – Dulwich Society and Bankside Trust for a biodiversity themed
o There is more information about SEF specialist knowledge in the section below.
Diagram of new partnership structure:
Climate Change Southwark Southwark
Partnership Environment Transport
(SCCP) Forum (SEF) Forum (STF)
Partnership Remit Members
Climate Change Carbon reduction 200 highest energy consumers in borough
Partnership (SCCP) (due to launch in 2009)
Southwark Environment Energy, waste, water, Local community and grassroots
Forum (SEF) biodiversity, transport, air quality environmental organisations
Southwark Transport Transport provision, Relevant stakeholders
Forum (STF) demand management, infrastructure
3. What does this mean for SEF going forward?
Whilst the Council need to pull back from SEF, this does not mean either that it does not value the role that it
plays in the borough. In fact, quite the opposite – hence the two seats that SEF will have on the new
The Council has also been motivated in part by criticisms of the current SEF format - that it tends to be both
too formal and Council-dominated which both alienates new groups and has led to a declining attendance.
SEF was intended as a way of giving a voice to local community and environmental groups. Since SSEP will
now provide a better mechanism for input into strategic decision-making, this gives SEF members an
opportunity to revitalise SEF (to look at what support etc is needed and whether the current format is the
best way of delivering this).
To support this process of revitalising SEF, the Council has committed to provide the following support:
o Free (Council) venues and refreshments for SEF meetings/ events
o Support with organising Council or external speakers for meetings/ events
o Officer level attendance at meetings/ events
o Support with maintaining the membership list (if required)
o Coordinating SEF representation on the SSEP
o Continuing to involve SEF as key consultative partner
In return for this support, the Council would like to see SEF become more representative of Southwark’s
grassroots environmental organisations and ‘movement’ - actively engaging the new groups springing up
around the borough and acting as a gateway for interested individuals wanting to get more involved in local
To support this, the Council would commit the following additional support:
o A quarterly e-bulletin covering member activities & events (SEF to provide content)
o A new SEF webpage to promote the network and member organisations (SEF to provide content)
o Support if SEF decided to become a formally constituted organisation and bid for future funding etc
4. SEF: current membership, strengths, weaknesses and next steps
To inform the discussion about where SEF could go from here, we conducted a review of SEF.
The table below contains an audit of the current SEF membership
o The second column categorises the current (group) membership by their environmental specialism
o The third column highlights local actors who do not currently engage with SEF.
o The levels of grey shading (see key below) group the actors into 3 groups i) grassroots voluntary ii)
not for profit iii) public and private sector.
Local environmental actors in Southwark
Theme SEF members Grassroots groups not engaging
General Camberwell Society People's Republic of Southwark
Dulwich Society KITE
Friends of the Earth Southwark Peckham Voluntary Sector Forum
SE London Greenpeace
Volunteers in Action Southwark
Biodiversity/ Bankside Open Spaces Trust Other Parks groups
green space BTCV BARGES
Friary Environment Network (FEN) Green Links
Friends of Burgess Park TRUE
Friends of Southwark Park Southwark Biodiversity Partnership
London Wildlife Trust
Victory Community Park / Elba Place
Carbon 3 Acorns Enviromental Tranformations Carbon Smart (Sus Energy Consultancy)
Dulwich Going Greener ECSC (Sus Energy Consultancy)
Ecoconsulting Peckham Power Company
Peckham CRAG Peckham Solar Lanes
Waste CRISP Paper round (recycling)
East Dulwich SNUB Plastic Bag Free Peckham (FoE)
Veolia Found' (shop selling reclaimed furniture)
Transport Living Streets
Food Fairtrade Centre Walworth Garden Farm
Green Ventures (food)
Southwark Food Grp (FoE)
Surrey Docks Farm
Business Better Bankside
London Bridge BID Company
Not for profit groups
Public sector/ private
1. The table is a snapshot and may omit/ misclassify groups.
2. SEF also includes individual members but these are not included since the constitution limits
membership to groups.
How is SEF performing against its stated objectives?
The Constitution states that SEF’s remit is to do the following:
The Southwark Environment Forum exists to promote the importance of a quality, liveable, sustainable
environment for all who live in, work in and visit Southwark by:
Developing and overseeing the implementation of all of the environmental aspects of the Southwark Community
Monitoring the effectiveness of the implementation of the environmental aspects of the Community Strategy
Promoting the importance of sustainability amongst members of the Southwark Alliance, (the Local Strategic
Partnership), also throughout the wider Southwark business community, voluntary sector and community
Co-ordinating a range of services delivered through partner agencies, identifying gaps in provision and
developing proposals to address them
To maximise funding coming into the borough for environmental services
Alerting the wider Southwark community of the financial and environmental costs of climate change and what
they can do to minimise the effects
Promote and champion the Liveability agenda and raise it’s importance amongst members of the Southwark
Alliance and the wider Southwark community
Promote and champion the importance of sustainable transport amongst members of the Southwark Alliance
and the wider Southwark community
Act as an information source for environmental organisations within the area.
There was a consensus at the November meeting that some of these objectives (particularly those relating
to overseeing/ monitoring the Community Strategy) were not appropriate for SEF as a grassroots forum
(hence the establishment of SSEP) and that the current constitution failed to recognise some of the key
strengths (such as networking) of SEF.
The section below reviews the achievements of SEF over the past year and strengths as highlighted by SEF
members and other Council officers who use the forum.
SEF key achievements: 2007-8
Meeting Topic Member Overview
Jan-07 LBS Climate Change Strategy SEA (Carbon Descent)
Mar-07 Regeneration Environment Agency (cancelled)
May-07 Biodiversity London Bridge BID
Jul-07 Communiting sustainability CRISP
Sep-07 Waste, recycling & Old Kent Road Facility Dulwich Going Greener
Nov-07 Street lighting, energy efficiency & light London Wildlife Trust in Southwark
Hard surfacing & flood risk Southwark Cyclists
Mar-08 Biodiversity & Planning Groundwork
Jan 07 Set up new climate change group - Climate Crisis
2007-8 Climate change pledge and audit
June 07- Contributed local events for a Southwark specific leaflet to promote local engagement in London
June 08 Sustainability weeks – now LoveLondon
Various Contributed to relevant consultations (climate change strategy, waste minimisation and sustainable
design and construction SPD)
SEF key strengths
o Facilitating local networking
o Promoting awareness of local activity / schemes
o Connecting activity/ preventing duplication
o Sharing information and best practice between members
o Representing viewpoints/ concerns of members
o Scrutinising local decision-making & facilitating engagement
o Providing a ‘gateway’ to Council support for new groups/ individuals
5. Survey: How does your organisation want SEF to go forward?
1. Overall, how satisfied are you with the support that SEF provides to your member organisation?
Please tick one box only
Neither satisfied nor dissatisfied
2. How well do you feel SEF has performed against its original objectives?
Please tick one box per row
Definitely Tend to Tend to Definitely Don’t
agree agree disagree disagree know
Develop and oversee implementation of all
environmental aspects of the community
Monitor effectiveness of implementation
Promote importance of sustainability
amongst wider community
Coordinate a range of services delivered
through partner agencies
Maximise funding coming into borough
Alert the community of financial /
environmental costs of climate change
Promote and champion liveability agenda
Information source for environmental
organisations within the area
3. To what extent do you agree or disagree that SEF has provided the following?
Please tick one box per row
Definitely Tend to Tend to Definitely Don’t know
agree agree disagree disagree
Sharing info/ best practice between
Facilitating local networking
Promoting awareness of local
activity / schemes / policy
Connecting local activity and/ or
Representing the viewpoints/
concerns of members organisations
Scrutinising local decision-making &
Acting as a ‘gateway’ to relevant
officers/ Council support for groups
4. Would you/ your organisation be willing to take a share in the administrative burden of organising
and facilitating future SEF meetings? Please tick one box per row
No Fairly satisfied
5. Way forward: Which of the following options would you like to see SEF following in the future?
Please number your top 3 options in order of preference (1 for first priority etc)
1. Business as usual + SEF
For the Forum to continue in the established format (with quarterly themed meetings) but with
administration and Chair provided by SEF members (whether elected for a fixed term or
revolving from meeting to meeting).
2. Business as usual + Community Action Southwark/ Veolia
Both these options are dependent on ongoing negotiations. If successful, CAS/ Veolia would
provide administrative support whilst SEF would elect a Chair.
3. From a forum to a loose network
Adapt SEF to become a network (formalising what’s starting to happen already). This would
reduce the administration needed and so lessen the demand on SEF member organisations.
Formal quarterly meetings could be replaced by informal networking events (such as Green
Drinks) and occasional events.
An further advantage of this option is that it would be easier to include the many new groups
that have recently sprung up in the borough and are not currently engaging with SEF.
4. Hybrid model
Option 3. but with the addition of a formally elected management committee to coordinate the
5. Formally constituted hybrid:
Option 4. but formally constituted so that it’s able to seek to funding for a project officer to
6. Other? (WRITE IN BELOW)
5. Do you have any other comments to make? Please write in below
SEF member organisation _______________________________
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personal data gathered from this form only for the purposes relating to this consultation.