Sustainability First is a research and educational charity, governed by an independent group of Trustees, with a particular focus on policy and practice for sustainable energy, water and waste.

This page describes our governance policies and approaches on:

  1. Trustees
  2. Trustee meetings and fixed annual cycle for governance issues
  3. Maintenance of a risk register and ensuring suitable safeguards.
  4. Financial reserves
  5. Transparency
  6. Declarations of interest
  7. Approaches to editorial control for our research and our projects
  8. Pensions policy
  9. No political affiliation or donations
  10. Data privacy policy


1.  Trustees

The Memorandum & Articles of Association of Sustainability First set out the objects of the charity and its governance arrangements, including any arrangements for being quorate and for holding an AGM. Trustees do not have a fixed term, but the Mem & Arts set out arrangements for trustee rotation. The Trustee Board endeavours to ensure an appropriate mix of continuity and fresh blood. Succession planning is in place in relation to office holders.

2.  Trustee meetings: fixed annual cycle to consider governance issues

Sustainability First trustees meet quarterly. There is a fixed annual cycle of agenda items to ensure that governance issues are properly considered at the right time, as follows:

  • March: Annual accounts sign-off
  • June: SF annual report of activities, including review of trustee activity
  • September: Governance policy: annual ‘health-check’ (risk register, charitable objectives, compliance with employment and taxation legislation, register of interests)
  • December: Strategy discussion. Draft financial results for past year. Budget for year ahead. Reserves policy. Annual review of financial management contract

3.  Maintenance of a risk register

Sustainability First maintains a risk register, for annual review by the Trustees. This includes assessment of risks and ensuring suitable safeguards against:

  • Not meeting our charitable objectives
  • Possible financial impropriety and / or fraud
  • Possible loss of key personnel
  • The need for a financial reserves policy
  • Potential loss of key funding sources
  • Possible reputational loss
  • Quality assurance on SF outputs
  • Major IT issues (loss, security, confidentiality)

4.  Financial reserves  policy

The trustees of Sustainability First keep the financial reserve for the charity under regular review. The desired level of reserve is discussed by trustees at least annually. Our current aim is to retain a sufficient reserve to meet core overhead costs for one year ahead. In line with Charity Commission guidance, Sustainability First will always maintain a sufficient reserve to cover core costs for a minimum of six months. The level of Sustainability First reserve is noted each quarter via the finance report to trustees.

 5.  Transparency

We aim for transparency through:

  • Listing our funding sources for the previous five years on our website
  • Acknowledging funders on each project webpage - and also in our project publications
  • Noting those organisations with whom we have collaborated on specific projects in the past five years on our website. We also acknowledge them on the appropriate project web-page

6.  Declarations of interest

Short biographies of our trustees and associates appear on the Sustainability First website.

Our trustees and associates are asked on an annual basis to submit declarations of interest, (or on an ad hoc basis should a relevant matter should arise). Any potential conflicts are brought to the notice of the director, chair and / or trustees for their consideration. As a matter of principle, should any trustee have a direct interest in a particular SF project, that interest would be recorded in a formal minute. In addition, any trustee with a declared interest in a specific project would be excluded from discussion of that project at a trustees meeting.

7.  Approaches to editorial control for our research and our projects

In arrangements with project partners, Sustainability First makes clear its role as an independent and non-partisan organisation, aiming to reach evidence-based conclusions from our research and analysis. The arrangements with project partners will make clear the basis on which any disagreement on content would be resolved.

Where Sustainability First has the role of a contractor or sub-contractor on a specific project, and does not have explicit editorial control, the arrangements will entail a presumption towards publication and a clear basis by which Sustainability First and its project partner might resolve any dispute on editorial content.

To see a list of the companies and organisations that have contributed funding towards the work of Sustainability First in the past five years, click here.

8. Pensions – automatic enrolment for any employees

Sustainability First will automatically enrol any employee in a pension, in line with regulations made under the Pensions Act 2008.

9.  No political affiliations and donations

Sustainability First is not affiliated to any political party and makes no political donations.

10.  Data privacy policy

Read our Data privacy policy.