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Green Business Network

World Vision - taking transport seriously

Disaster Relief at MynamarWorld Vision is a Christian relief, development and advocacy organisation, dedicated to working with children, families and communities to overcome poverty and injustice. It is a charity funded by the UK Government, European Union, charitable trusts, corporate support and individuals.

The charity has about 250 staff at its Milton Keynes headquarters and is a member of the global World Vision Partnership. This, combined with the relief and development work carried out in countries world-wide, means staff travel all over the world. In fact, travel and subsistence amounted to 3% of total costs of operational costs in the UK in 2006. The organisation has 32,000 people employed globally in 100 countries, so the UK office’s action on sustainable travel could also become the template for other countries.

World Vision has established a strong working relationship with the Green Business Network (GBN), using the Network’s business support programmes for environmental management systems, resource efficiency, carbon footprinting, corporate social responsibility, and transport planning to initiate a number of programmes within the business.

Under the MK Green Alert programme, GBN was able to provide a travel planning specialist to help World Vision identify areas in which it could improve its performance, both in terms of staff travelling to and from work; to meetings and to other countries.. The objective was to build upon and breathe new life into a policy that had originally been set up in 2003 but had not progressed very far.

David Hurdle, Travel Planning Specialist, identified the need to provide support for staff by providing season ticket and bike loans to encourage staff to take public transport or cycle to work. He also identified a Plusbus scheme whereby bus travel can be added to train tickets, which could usefully be promoted to staff. World Vision is about to improve on-site facilities for cyclists by increasing the security of bike sheds and building more of them.

The consultant suggested offering a mileage allowance to cyclists. Business travel, including overseas, costs the company about £300,000 million a year. He identified that encouraging home working, audio and video conferencing combined with other measures could provide a 10% reduction in business travel and subsistence worth around £45,000 to the charity.

Ian Turvey, Facilities Manager at World Vision, is clear about the charity’s reasons for looking at environmental initiatives. He says: “We want to measure the impact of our activities on the environment and make sure this is done with integrity  and transparency. Many of the children and communities we’re helping in developing countries are and will be impacted  by the effects of climate change. We want to limit our contribution to this now and for the future. Our main aim is not necessarily to cut costs but if this is a by-product of cutting our emissions and using less resources, it means even more of our grants and donations can be put to the use to which they are intended – helping to prevent suffering and poverty.”

Travel Plans can cost money or save money, but David Hurdle found several areas where World Vision could save/raise money, including:

Other suggestions that the charity could consider implementing to reduce carbon emissions through transport included introducing alternative travel means during staff induction; providing showers, changing rooms, lockers, drying rooms, maps and umbrellas for walkers and cyclists; offering interest free loans for bicycles and accessories; providing generous mileage allowances and insurance cover for cyclists; negotiating discounts at local cycle dealers, or providing a new bicycle to staff giving up car parking spaces. To encourage greater use of public transport, World Vision was advised to provide as much information as possible on timetables and routes, offer interest-free loans, and negotiate with transport providers to gain better services to sites.

Where car use is the only feasible option for people, World Vision was advised to provide pool cars; look at providing driving tips information and training; setting fuel reduction and staff mileage targets, and encouraging staff to buy, lease or rent hybrid vehicles.

“We’ve certainly got plenty to think about and work on. Now it’s up to us to ensure that we make the best use of this information as we strive to improve our Environmental Performance.” Ian Turvey

To encourage teleworking and other flexible working schemes, David Hurdle suggested the following measures could be taken: allow flexible working regimes, such as 9 day fortnights; allow home working, when appropriate; providing video conferencing facilities; providing a pool of laptops for home use; and encourage telephone conferencing.

Ian Turvey is delighted with the suggestions not only about measures World Vision can take to reduce its transport impacts, but also with the sound advice given on how travel plans can be implemented and maintained.