The project will take place over a period of three years, during which Co-op will fund and scale up Friends of the Earth’s “Postcode Gardeners” programme. The programme seeks to embed community gardeners in some of the country’s most nature-deprived neighbourhoods.

The partnership announcement comes after recent research published by Friends of the Earth shows 1.5 million children under the age of 12 live in areas with limited access to nature.

In addition, the study claims that people of colour are disproportionately impacted by nature loss and nearly three times more likely to live in areas with few green or wild spaces.

Nick Slape, CEO at Co-op Bank, commented: “We’re committed to taking steps to reverse the decline in biodiversity, and with the support of our colleagues and customers, Friends of the Earth will co-create some truly resilient, thriving and healthy neighbourhoods.

“Over the next three years, this partnership will create meaningful change in society and greatly benefit local communities across the country”, Slape added.

Co-op, banks and the fight against climate change

In a recent comment for RBI, Slape argued that banks and financial institutions should invest more in fighting climate change. His comments came following the Banking on Climate Chaos report, which stated that the world’s top 60 private-sector banks had invested $4.6tn in fossil fuel financing since the Paris Agreement 2015.

Miriam Turner, co-executive director at Friends of the Earth, welcomed the partnership with Co-op Bank.

“We couldn’t be more delighted that The Co-operative Bank has chosen to partner with us on our Postcode Gardeners project”, Turner said. “These neighbourhood-level projects have the potential to make a profound difference to people living in some of the most nature-deprived communities in the UK.”

“As well as supporting plants and wildlife to flourish, Postcode Gardeners are reconnecting local communities and improving people’s health and wellbeing. We look forward to working in close partnership with The Co-operative Bank over the next three years to sow the seeds, quite literally, that will enable communities to live in harmony with a thriving natural world”, she concluded.