Responsible operations 2019

As part of our commitment to working in an open and accountable way, we publish information about our actions on environmental and social responsibility. During 2018/19, we slightly increased our carbon footprint by 2% but the institute is well below its overall reduction target.

A large number of participants listen to a speech

IIED director Andrew Norton addresses the D&C Days conference in December. The late rearrangement of the event from Chile to Spain complicated travel arrangements and led to many last-minute flights (Photo: Matt Wright, IIED, CC BY-NC 2.0)

We have a clear plan to reduce our carbon emissions and environmental impacts, and work responsibly. An important part of this commitment to responsible operations is working to reduce our carbon emissions.

The last financial year (2018/19) saw a 2% increase in our organisational carbon footprint on the previous year (2017/18), reflecting an increase in our air travel emissions. However, we are still well below our 2.5% per year reduction target for annual emissions per FTE (ie 7.1 tCO2e per FTE being 18% under the target of 8.7tCO2e). 

This highlights how much the location of our work has a direct effect on our emissions. We continue to maintain ISO14001-certified environmental management system, and IIED works with Carbon Offsets to Alleviate Poverty in offsetting our carbon footprint.

Tracking our carbon emissions (April 2013 to March 2019)

IIED carbon footprint*13/1414/1515/1616/1717/1818/19
GHG emission data in tonnes of CO2e**(Base year)   
Scope 1 (direct: e.g. on-site gas heating)302139314028
Scope 2 (Indirect energy: e.g. electricity)857777696038
Scope 3 (Other indirect: e.g. travel***)739852731867741750
Total gross emissions854951846967841830
Average full-time equivalents (FTE)98109110124118117
Per FTE annual emissions8.78.77.77.86.97.1
% annual change-15%0%-12%2%-12%2%
Target (2.5% reduction p.a. on base year)9.99.79.49.29.08.7
% difference from target-12%-10%-18%-15%-23%-18%

* Based on our sites and the activities of our staff, this measure excludes our suppliers and partners. Our footprint is measured in accordance with Defra’s 2016 emissions factors and guidelines, which is consistent with the GHG Protocol.

**  Tonnes of CO2e is a universal unit of measurement used to indicate the global warming potential of a greenhouse gas, expressed in terms of the global warming potential of one unit of carbon dioxide.

*** Air travel emissions take into account the effect of radiative forcing (the effect of water vapour and nitrous oxides in the upper atmosphere) and therefore an uplift factor of 1.89 has been used in accordance with Defra guidelines.

Note: Some of the figures for 2015/16 were corrected in February 2020.

Our environmental policy

We recognise that all our activities will have an impact on the environment – and we aim to continually improve our environmental performance and prevent pollution. Our commitments under our environmental policy (PDF) include:

  • Ensuring our compliance with all relevant legislation, regulations and other relevant requirements
  • Assessing and regularly re-assessing the environmental impacts of our activities
  • Sharing low-carbon innovations to our in-country and international work, and scaling up effective approaches where effective
  • Reducing our greenhouse gas emissions per head by an average of 2.5 per cent per year, consistent with the requirements of globally-recognised reduction commitments such as the Carbon Trust Standard
  • Minimising the amount of waste through reduction, recovery and recycling, and
  • Reporting our environmental performance in our annual report.

We updated our policy in February 2020, adding new actions to limit the impact of IIED events, including:

  • Serving vegetarian food at IIED-led events in northern countries to reduce the environmental impact of our catering, and
  • Phasing out single-use plastic at IIED-led events in northern countries to reduce the pollution and waste.

We communicate our environmental policy to all employees, suppliers and sub-contractors and make it available to the public. IIED's operations team oversees and reviews the policy, and our environmental manager coordinates implementation.

Previous years