Strategy: The Next Generation

Vision and Goal

Our vision is a healthy environment that provides a decent life for all generations to come.

Objectives for 2020: what we will do

To reach our stretching 2030 Goal means we need to make rapid progress to:

  • Climate: accelerate the transition from a fossil fuel economy to a clean power society
  • Nature: restore and protect thriving, diverse nature in everyone’s everyday lives
  • Health: help people breathe cleaner, safer air

We also need to involve many more people – and a more diverse range of people – in making change, so that we become more powerful and can make still greater change faster.


  • Fair: we work to achieve socially just solutions to environmental problems, in an inclusive, accessible and welcoming way.
  • Visionary: we set out a positive vision of the world the next generation should enjoy and constantly show how our successes are making an impact.
  • Insightful: we base everything we do on rigorously researched evidence, and we also know which levers to pull to bring about change.
  • Determined: we’re relentless in our work for change; we don’t give up on our goal, or on the people we work with.
  • Change-making: working with local groups and frontline communities, we have a track record of influence and practical solutions that bring about change. 

More about our 5 Step Changes

+ Impact: only do something if it makes the biggest difference to creating a better environment for the next generation to enjoy

We want to be judged first and foremost by our success in reaching our goal, and hence how far we make life better for the next generation. We will focus relentlessly on achieving the most important changes we know are needed, at the necessary scale, and not on doing the easy thing, the thing we’ve always done before or even the right thing at a fraction of the scale needed. We will only work on issues where we can see an opportunity to make a new and additional impact, and contribution to the debate.

We will use data to judge our success and to test whether our assumptions about how we can best make change happen are correct. That includes all the assumptions in this strategy, which might best be seen as testable hypotheses. We will allocate resources to the things that work, and we won’t hesitate to stop doing things that don’t.

We will focus primarily on changing the world through our actions, recognising that showcasing the problems we identify and working with people to put in place our solutions, is a more powerful driver of change than thousands of carefully written submissions to policy consultations. It is through doing that we engage more people, and create the right to be heard when we do speak.

We will highlight the problems through the stories of people on the frontline of environmental harm and the realities they face. We will ensure that our campaigns are underpinned by a systemic analysis, that not only ties them together in a narrative, but also ensures that we work to change root causes and not just ameliorate the worst symptoms.

+ Great Supporter Experiences: helping every Friend of the Earth feel they’re a valued part of protecting the environment for the next generation

Everyone who contributes to achieving our goal is a Friend of the Earth, whether they donate £3, sign a petition, run a local group or sit on our Board. Achieving our goal is dependent upon a step change in the way we engage with all our friends. We value each and every one, and we want them to have a brilliant experience with us, which leaves them feeling that they are a change-maker, building long term relationships.

We will involve and engage people through delivering tangible benefits for their health, community, or local nature. We will also provide education, training, connections and networks, specialist expertise and online tools to empower individuals and communities to shape change for themselves and to build their own local networks in ways that suit them.

In addition, our campaigns will offer something else: friendship. By getting involved people will access a world of like-minded others, all working together for change. We will enable people to connect digitally, and especially face-to-face, in communities of interest and identity as well as geography, including in our local groups network. We’ll offer meaningful personalised communications, stick with people when the going gets tough, say thank you, and above all, we’ll listen as part of a genuine conversation.

We will get much better at co-creating campaigns with the people whose lives our work aims to make better and those who we want to help us deliver the work. We will carry out audience research and testing and make use of the resulting data before we start our campaigns in order to ensure that our campaigns start 'where people are at'.

We understand that putting people at the heart of change will also often mean letting go and supporting groups of people to find their own way towards our shared goals.

We’ll create new, attractive ways for people to donate or raise money. Safeguarding our independence, we will continue to receive a significant majority of our income from the support of individuals. We will have a number of multi-year campaigns alongside creating space for short term innovative campaigns and rapid responses; this will allow us to develop multi-year trust and foundation funding for a proportion of our income.

+ Innovation and Disruption: pushing forward the ideas, technologies and systems that are the next generation’s future

In achieving our Goal, the only given is that there will need to be constant and significant change. Changing the world means new ways of doing things – that goes for us as an organisation and a movement, as well as for the political, economic, cultural and technological systems we influence.

We will break intellectual ground and engage in public debate with provocative opinion and comment, unafraid to speak truth to power. We will commission and publish rigorous research to underpin our analysis of problems and our proposed solutions. We will expose wrongdoing through investigations and use of legal expertise.

We will showcase how many of the solutions we need already exist. Where there aren’t existing models that we can take people to see, we’ll consider setting them up ourselves, for example by developing new social enterprises to demonstrate that alternative business models are realistic, practical and desirable.

We will innovate and experiment with the type of campaigns we run. We will rapidly prototype and test, using lean and ‘minimum viable product’ principles, as well as being comfortable with failure when these experiments fail, and we’ll embrace much more fluid, multidisciplinary ways of working.

We will embrace technology. Our digital channels will enable many more people to campaign and fundraise. We will prepare for the challenge and opportunity of digitally mediated disruption. This will include being open to new models of change.

+ Local-to-Global Networks: connecting people across countries and across generations

If we are to succeed as an organisation in creating significant change we must increase the power and influence of the movements that we are part of.

We will invest more in empowering individuals and communities to organise their own local campaigns in support of our strategy, and mobilise people on shared national and international campaigns. We will pilot new ways for people to organise together locally, placing re-energised local groups within a diverse range of options for people’s involvement.

We will connect people and groups to share stories and know-how across our millions-strong global movement. Within our campaigns we will link up with those campaigning on similar issues in other countries to learn from them and share our own lessons. We will use case studies of successful changes in policy, practice, technology or culture from elsewhere to show that our solutions are possible and desirable.

Friends of the Earth England, Wales and Northern Ireland has most agency to effect change in the UK. Where it supports achieving our goal, we will campaign in partnership with sister organisations in our International network, particularly where the problems they seek to fix are a direct result of UK government policy or UK-based businesses, financial institutions, or consumption.

As Friends of the Earth EWNI we act together as one organisation. But each nation, and the English regions, bring something special to the whole.

+ People: reflecting the diversity of the next generation and nurturing future talent

We will work with people from across society: we must increase the number and breadth of people who campaign with us, for example young people and people across the political spectrum at all levels, in order to increase our influence and effectiveness.

We will improve our relevance by involving more people from under-represented groups such as BME people, and we’ll start by transforming our staff and Board to fully reflect society, with staff being less London-centric.

Our staff and volunteers are valuable to us and we must enable them to maximise their contribution through a culture that develops and rewards people, encourages innovation, champions disruption in the way we do things, values determination, and where poor performance is addressed swiftly and fairly (and where innovation and success is rewarded).

We will seek to grow and develop talent, not just among our staff but across our whole ‘family’. We will place a strong emphasis on the people skills of empathy, listening, inspiring, organising and leadership.

Our approach to change-making: people power

Friends of the Earth is, above all else, a campaigning organisation. In a changing world the ways in which we campaign will be different to the ways we have in the past.

In recent years, Friends of the Earth has developed impressive staff expertise in policy analysis and in changing the law through clever engagement with Westminster. However, ensuring that the next generation can enjoy an environment that’s getting better is simply too ambitious a goal to achieve through a focus on politicians and policymakers alone. It will need change across law, economics, technology, business and culture. Equally, we cannot reach our goal by ourselves.

We need many more people working with and for the next generation. This means helping people to get involved in practical activities, such as bee-spotting, investing in community energy, eating more healthily or monitoring air pollution on their street. We’ll provide particular support for involving those who will benefit most from our work: people most threatened by environmental harm.

We’ll support them to do so not in isolation, but as part of something bigger. A reinvigorated local network of groups and communities will be at the heart of new ways for people to come together in communities of geography and interest. They will also become part of our Friends of the Earth International family of groups and activists tackling systemic change. By taking action with us, people become part of broad, principled alliances for change. Building people power is our priority even at the expense of short-term parliamentary wins.

Friends of the Earth’s role as an organisation and in its network of changemakers is to act as an advocate, a facilitator, an organiser and a mobiliser. We provide inspiration, expertise, tools and connections to enable individuals and communities to come together to make change. With Friends of the Earth in their corner, a single person can be the catalyst for huge change, a small community can fight social injustice, and international networks can have world-changing impact.

We work with other environmental groups. But we equally work with businesses, charities, community organisations and consumer groups that share our hopes for the next generation. While we will spend the majority of our time working with people and communities, we play a crucial role to focus and amplify the voices of those communities and individuals into the boardroom, media commentator and Westminster battles that shape our politics and economics. 

We remain party political independent and party political impartial, but we will continue to build allies and champions in the mainstream parties to advocate and sometimes vote in the UK Parliament. We will continue to focus on the devolved administrations where progress is possible.