If you were not one of the c400 members that attended our AGM in London on Saturday, this is what you missed…

  1. An announcement from our Chair, Kevin Cox, that we plan to review our policy on game bird shooting and associated land management.
  2. An update on our plans to engage members in tough conversations about diet. Following our review of how the RSPB should respond to the climate crisis, we are determined to do more to communicate the importance of eating less but better meat.  This means that we are trialling meat-free days at some of our cafes as part of a social science project we running to develop innovative approaches to reduce the carbon footprint of the RSPB and our members through changing meat consumption.  We know this is an issue that can polarise opinion so we want to find the right approach that helps people to change their behaviour.  The good news is that our menus at all catering sites are already changing as 75% of our menu now vegetarian (compared to 50% not so long ago).
  3. A lively question and answer session which covered issues ranging from shooting woodcock, curlew conservation, media response to gulls, access to our most remote nature reserves, member retention rates (c90%) and the potential for our pension deficit to change (it remains subject to a triennial review).
  4. Leafleting of RSPB members to support all green energy schemes. I spoke to one of those behind this and made the case that we support the energy revolution that is needed to tackle climate change but that this must take place in harmony with nature. That’s why we published our energy vision and why we continue to work with industry, the Crown Estate and governments across the UK to try to meet our offshore renewable energy targets without causing needless harm to our already threatened seabird populations.  The percentage of schemes we oppose remains very small (last time I looked it was about 4%) and we would, of course, prefer not to object to any renewable projects, but when sensitive wildlife sites or species are affected we will continue to make sure our voice is heard.
  5. Inspirational speeches from both our (youngest) President award winner, Dara McAnulty, and James Miller (representing our Phoenix Forum – for teenagers) providing another reminder of the exceptional quality of environmental leadership that the younger generation offers.
  6. Awards to some of our most committed volunteers: Jane Taylor, James Minchin, Neville Jones, Roy Attree, David Hampson and the Groves family.
  7. An overview of RSPB activity over the past year (from our Chair, Kevin Cox and Treasurer, Robert Cubbage)
  8. Brilliant talks from my colleagues on youth-led conservation in Northern Ireland (by Karen Sheil and Rebekah Flyn), on innovative ways to support little tern conservation (by Emily Kench), on Gola (by Juliet Vickery), on celebrating 50 years of RSPB local groups (by Nadia Archer) and on bog restoration in the Flow Country (by Caroline Eccles)
  9. An introduction to our new Chief Executive, Beccy Speight, who also provided a look ahead to 2020 (which includes the significant UN meetings on climate change and biodiversity) as well as offering her view of how we can improve so that we have bigger impact for nature.
  10. A chance to catch up with many familiar faces and meet some RSPB members who were attending their first AGM.

If you weren’t able to attend (perhaps you were watching the rugby?), why not put next year’s AGM in your diary – 10 October 2020.  I hope to see you there.