Responsible operations 2020

As part of our commitment to transparency and working in an open and accountable way, we publish information about our actions on environmental and social responsibility. In 2019/20, we reduced our carbon footprint by 3%.

A conference room, with a large table in the foreground and a planty on the left, with a TV screen at the far end showing IIED branding

2020 saw IIED leave its London headquarters and move to a smaller serviced office (Photo: Graham Mills, IIED)

This was possible due to a concerted effort to reduce our air travel, as part of our strategy to reduce our carbon emissions and environmental impacts year on year, and work responsibly.

The 3% reduction in our carbon emissions in 2019/20 fell below our 2.5% per year reduction target for annual emissions per FTE (ie 6.8 tCO2e per FTE, under the target of 8.7tCO2e).

As part of maintaining our accreditation of the environmental management system, we are audited each year by an external assessor  and we  continue to maintain ISO14001-certified environmental management system.

We recognise that a large part of our work involves travelling to various countries, so we have invested in offsetting our carbon footprint and work with Carbon Offsets to Alleviate Poverty to achieve this end.

Tracking our carbon emissions (April 2013 to March 2020)
IIED carbon footprint* 13/14 14/15 15/16 16/17 17/18 18/19 19/20
GHG emission data in tonnes of CO2e** (Base year)
Scope 1 (direct: e.g. on-site gas heating) 30 21 39 31 40 28 37
Scope 2 (Indirect energy: e.g. electricity) 85 77 77 69 60 38 34
Scope 3 (Other indirect: e.g. travel***) 739 852 731 867 741 750 776
Total gross emissions 854 951 846 967 841 830 861
Average full-time equivalents (FTE) 98 109 110 124 118 117 125
Per FTE annual emissions 8.7 8.7 7.7 7.8 6.9 7.1 6.8
% annual change -15% 0% -12% 2% -12% 2% -3%
Target (2.5% reduction p.a. on base year) 9.9 9.7 9.4 9.2 9 8.7 8.5
% difference from target -12% -10% -18% -15% -23% -18% -20%

* 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 2019 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 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 review.

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

IIED's annual review

Our 2020 annual review, 'A year of change', features eight short videos presents some of our strongest achievements over the last year