Environmental sustainability is a pressing issue, now more than ever. Earth’s climate is changing significantly as a result of human activity, and along with it, the future of the younger generation.
Child welfare is at the heart of what we do at Compass. We exist to provide wrap-around support for children and young people, working with our staff and foster carers to increase the outcomes of every child and young person in our care. We understand that climate change, among other social and environmental issues, poses a significant threat to the future of our children.
Our Compass Community is comprised of four pillars: Our fostering service, our schools, our residential children’s homes, and our therapeutic services. Providing this breadth of services for children takes a lot of work, energy, and resources.
That’s why we want to do as much as possible to ensure we are promoting sustainable and fair practice across all our services. By aligning our company values with a variety of the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals (SDG), and through the formation of an Environmental, Social and Governance (ESG) Committee, we hope to hold ourselves accountable for our environmental and social impact.
What are the United Nations SDG?
Developed by the United Nations in 2015, the Sustainable Development Goals are a collection of 17 goals designed to provide a better and more sustainable future for all.
Of the 17 SDG goals, we initially identified 7 that we felt aligned with our company vision and values. This year, we added two additional goals to better reflect our commitment to sustainability. These 9 goals demonstrate the areas where we can make the most positive impact.
We have partnered these 9 SDG’s with the commitments set out by our ESG Committee, to create a framework that we can use to improve the sustainability and fairness of our company practice.
1. No Poverty
The United Nations predicts that the Global Poverty Rate will rise to 7% in 2030. The ‘No Poverty’ goal’s primary focus is the eradication of poverty, aiming to reduce at least half of the proportion of men, women and children living in poverty by 2030.
Compass’ contribution to this goal is the provision of a stable environment for all our children and young people to grow up in. Our extensive support services are aimed at improving the outcomes of the over 1,000 children and young people in our care, empowering them to access a safe and fulfilling future.
2. Good Health and Well-Being
This SDG aims to ensure healthy lives and promote well-being for all, at all ages. We have identified with the target to strengthen the prevention and treatment of substance abuse. This includes narcotic drug abuse and the harmful use of alcohol.
We ensure that all our children, young people and staff live and work in safe and healthy environments. Our carers, teachers, residential workers, and staff are all trained to safeguard children from all forms of abuse.
Through our training, opportunities, and policies, we strive to cultivate a workplace culture where healthy lifestyle choices are encouraged. We frequently promote awareness about a variety of well-being initiatives, including social and emotional well-being, and key health issues.
Our therapeutic services also provide tailored support for children with a variety of complex needs. Our hope is that, in helping our children to work through trauma at a younger age, we can decrease the likelihood that they will become involved with substance abuse in the future.
3. Quality Education
The COVID-19 pandemic saw 101 million children, between grades 1 to 8, fall below minimum reading proficiency levels in 2020. The Quality Education SDG seeks to ensure that free, inclusive, and equitable quality education is available for all children. By 2030, the SDG also aims to substantially increase the number of youth and adults with relevant skills for employment and entrepreneurship.
Across our schools, we offer unique, distinctive environments that support complex children who have experienced trauma and adversity throughout their childhoods. Our schools provide bespoke, quality education packages that meet the needs of their students, helping them to achieve and become the best they can be.
4. Affordable and Clean Energy
This goal aims to ensure access to affordable, reliable, and sustainable energy for everyone. Accelerated action on modern renewable energy is urgently needed, and this goal is directed at increasing the share of renewable energy in the global energy mix.
The transition to clean, sustainable energy has been an ongoing project for Compass over the past few years. As our company network expands, we have been conscious of continuing to reduce our energy consumption.
Between 2020-2021, we reduced our overall electricity consumption by 6%, and our overall gas usage by 41%. We have also introduced the use of greener energy alternatives, such as biomass boilers, solar panel installations and air-source heat pumps across a variety of our locations.
In 2021, our Head Office moved to a building that is passive-fuelled. Our new Head Office building uses ambient energy sources, such as daylighting, natural ventilation and solar energy to supplement its overall energy consumption.
5. Industry, Innovation and Infrastructure
The Industry, Innovation and Infrastructure SDG focuses on building resilient infrastructure, and promotes inclusive and sustainable industrialisation. By 2030, the SDG aims to upgrade all existing infrastructure and industries to make them sustainable, increasing resource use efficiency and the adoption of clean, environmentally safe practices.
Alongside our mission to reduce our energy consumption, we have also invested in a variety of Gold Standard Carbon offsetting projects. These projects contribute to the global reduction of atmospheric carbon emissions.
In 2021, we purchased 500 carbon credits. 140 of these credits went toward the Musi River Project in Indonesia, and 360 credits went toward the Kariba Forest Protection project in Zimbabwe. These projects have successfully achieved renewable energy advances, carbon sequestration, infrastructure repair and training and jobs for their local communities.
6. Reduced Inequalities
Aimed at reducing inequalities across the globe, the Reduced Inequalities SDG promotes the social, economic and political inclusion of all, irrespective of their age, sex, disability, race, ethnicity, origin, religion or economic status.
In 2020, propelled by ongoing events, staff and carers within the Compass Community came together to form our G.R.A.C.E Committee. Standing for ‘Group and Regional Ambassadors Committed to Equality,’ G.R.A.C.E utilises the talents of staff, carers, and children across our organisation to tackle inequality and discrimination.
The group advises and guides Compass in upholding and understanding the lived experiences of minority groups, seeking to educate all those employed by and cared for by Compass with a better understanding of institutional racism, discrimination, and inequality.
7. Renewable Consumption and Production
This goal focuses on the substantial reduction of waste generation through prevention, reduction, recycling, and reuse. It also encourages companies to integrate sustainability information into their reports.
Alongside our pursuit for cleaner energy usage, we have committed to reducing waste and water consumption wherever possible. As we work towards this goal, we have taken various actions to mitigate our immediate effect upon the environment.
Between 2020 and 2021, we reduced the amount of waste sent to landfill from 51% to 38%. We recycled 31% of our waste throughout our sites, with a further 31% being used for energy recovery (incineration).
Additionally, for the past few years, we have introduced the annual reporting of our goals and progress through our ESG report, which is produced annually by our ESG Committee.
8. Climate Action
As of 2020, the global average temperature was 1.5 °C above the pre-industrial baseline. The rise in greenhouse gas emissions requires a shift toward carbon neutrality, with this goal calling for an improvement in education and awareness regarding the realities of Climate Change.
Reducing consumption and switching to sustainable practices has been an ongoing priority for Compass. Our gross carbon emissions for the year 2021 were calculated to be 633.1 tCO2e, a considerable improvement in comparison to 2020’s figure of 951.1 tCO2e. As a company, we have pledged to become carbon neutral, and will continue to monitor and review our carbon emissions targets in future years.
In addition, our schools give us the unique opportunity to contribute to the development of environmental consciousness in our children. Our curriculum across primary, secondary and GCSE level, includes 46 units of work that cover climate change and the environment. In total, 540 teaching hours each term are focused on educating our children about sustainability.
9. Life on Land
The primary focus of this SDG is the protection and restoration of terrestrial ecosystems. The Life on Land goal calls for the increase and mobilisation of financial resources in order to achieve this.
Our ongoing contributions to carbon offsetting projects have supported them in achieving reforestation, carbon sequestration and renewable energy increases.
The Kariba Forest Protection project that we donated 360 credits to in 2021 has protected nearly 785,000 hectares from deforestation and land degradation. The protection of these forests and wildlife has prevented more than 3.5 million tonnes of carbon dioxide being released into the atmosphere every year.
We are immensely proud of our community at Compass, and all the various ways we’ve come together to make progress in these areas over the past few years.
While we are still a long way from achieving our goal of becoming a carbon-neutral, sustainable company, we feel the 9 Sustainable Development Goals we have chosen provide an excellent framework that will guide us on our journey.
We have no doubt that the coming years will bring new opportunities for growth, as well as unexpected challenges. We pledge to continue to make decisions that build sustainable, diverse and ethical practices across our community.