Chair’s annual report 2019
Date posted: 3 July 2019
This annual report was presented by Nicky Bull, Chair of Operation Noah, at our AGM on 29 June in London.
2018 now seems rather a long time ago and although it can be useful to look back we are much more about looking forward, especially at this crucial time for the planet. Nevertheless there are things that I need to highlight about Operation Noah’s year 2018.
Summary of activities:
- In early 2018 our friends at theatre company Riding Lights, who produced the climate change drama Baked Alaska for us a few years ago, toured with another production that looked at the relationship between science and faith. I was asked to appear on their scientists’ panels at a couple of the performances and was able to highlight the work of Operation Noah.
- In March 2018 the Women’s World Day of Prayer – since renamed just the World Day of Prayer – focused on creation and a number of us probably attended the services. Operation Noah were fortunate enough to receive some funding from the organisers and this was used to produce the short animated film, Sālote, which was launched at the end of the summer and can be accessed via our website and viewed on YouTube.
- Also in March we were able to report that Operation Noah had contributed the resources on Sustainable Development Goal 13: Climate Change to a publication entitled God’s Global Goals, published by EndPoverty2030, an initiative started by the Micah Global Network. And in Manchester, ON had a resources table at the Joint Public Issues Team conference, ‘A Brave New World? Faithful Living in a Time of Change’.
- In June 2018, Operation Noah’s AGM and Supporters’ Day was held at St John’s, Waterloo, where we welcomed one of our patrons, and former board member, Bishop David Atkinson who talked about signed copies of his latest book, Hope Rediscovered. We also launched our new study guide, Tenants of the King, and an up-to-date report on the progress of divestment from fossil fuels, Fossil Free Churches.
- Many of us will remember summer 2018 for the heatwave that kept temperatures in the UK at record highs. However, there was also an important step taken by the Church of England, who voted at heir synod to divest from fossil fuel companies who had not aligned their businesses with the Paris climate goals by 2023.
- In September 2018, Sir James Bevan, chief executive of the Environment Agency, gave an interesting talk in London with the title, ‘Climate Change: Too True to Be Good.’ It was clear from what he said that in his department at least people are fully aware of the threats posed by climate change although they are not always able to act accordingly because of the other preoccupations of government.
- In October 2018, the IPCC produced its latest report in which they stated that there were just 12 years left to turn things around if we are to prevent global average temperature increases above 1.5 degrees. At the same time, we at Operation Noah were able to let our supporters know that a further three UK churches had made divestment pledges.
- In December 2018 world leaders and other met in Katowice, Poland for the COP talks. Much-publicised highlights included Sir David Attenborough taking the people’s seat and speaking powerfully about the dangers of climate change. During the year we also saw the start of the school students’ strike movement under the inspirational prompting of 16-year-old Greta Thunberg, and the increasing activities of the Extinction Rebellion movement, in which Christian Climate Action have joined. Both of these have spread around the globe and have attracted media coverage.
- We continue to send representatives from the ON board to the meetings for the Faith for the Climate Network, which provides a very useful forum where we can meet and discuss with people from a range of organisations whose focus is on mobilising all the faith communities on climate change. The Network is soon to launch a website.
- We are grateful to the Sainsbury Family Trusts (the Ashden Trust, the JJ Charitable Trust and the Mark Leonard Trust), the Sheila McKenchie Foundation and the Joseph Rowntree Charitable Trust for the grant funding we received from the during 2018. However, we are totally dependent upon regular donor supporters who give to the unrestricted funds that are needed to cover the ongoing running costs of Operation Noah and for a number of years now we have been aiming to achieve the equivalent of 100 donors each giving £10 per month.
- 2018 was a particularly challenging year for the board of Operation Noah, when we discovered in July that the deregistration from Companies House, which we had pursued in good faith, had resulted in the suspension of our bank accounts – and threatened the existence of the charity itself. Thanks in very large part to the tireless work of our Treasurer, David Miller, with the help of our External Examiner, Malcolm Rogers — and with loaned finance from a couple of board members — we were able to continue to function while this issue was resolved, a process that took many months and unfortunately also necessitated the employment of lawyers.
- Lastly, and most importantly, there are some very important thank-yous this year: Ruth Jarman, a founder member of the Operation Noah board, has continued to take on additional responsibilities during the last year, not only helping out in the office to make sure that our administration runs smoothly and that requests for resources are responded to promptly but also dealing with the bank when we realised there were problems. Fortunately, the Co-operative Bank – and also the Charity Commission – were extremely supportive and helpful. Ruth is stepping down from the board this year but we hope very much that we shall still be seeing a good deal of her and we know that she will be a staunch supporter of Operation Noah. Thank you very much indeed, Ruth.
- Following the last year’s AGM Penny Dakin-Kiley, a former ON board member, took a sabbatical break and during that period Richard Collett-White spent a day per week covering ON comms work and, for three months, an additional three days a week on the Bright Now campaign alongside James Buchanan. Richard’s appointment was extended twice to cover comms work and we are extremely grateful for all the work that he was able to do for us. In March this year, we recruited Britta Graham-Hyde to take over this role and we welcome her to the team.
- Many thanks to my fellow board members who continued to work extremely hard throughout 2018: I would particularly like to add thanks to Revd Alex Mabbs, who is stepping down from the board this year but who has generously assured us that he will continue to be available to represent Operation Noah at events and to speak on our behalf. I should also like to thank Dr Martin Poulsom, who has taken over as the trustee with oversight of the Bright Now campaign; Jean Leston, who has been working very hard to plan what we hope will be the next stage of our outreach campaign; Holly Petersen, who was co-opted onto the board during 2018 but who we look forward to welcoming as an elected member very shortly; and Revd Darrell Hannah, who has taken on the role of Vice Chair this year.
- This brings me to an ongoing need that Operation faces, which is finding new board members to join us and to share in their energy and skills with those of us currently on the board. We have the opportunity today not just to elect Holly Petersen (nominated by the supporters of Operation Noah) and Nick Jones, and to re-elect Martin Poulsom – but also to co-opt one or two further board members, especially if there are interested people who can offer specific skills in any of the following areas: fundraising; data management; or people management.