Safeguarding Policy - Earthwatch

[and Reporting Procedure]


The purpose of this policy is to protect people, particularly children and at risk adults, from any harm that may be caused due to their coming into contact with Earthwatch.  This includes harm arising from: 

  • The conduct of employees or anyone working on behalf of Earthwatch.
  • The design and implementation of Earthwatch’s projects, events and activities.

Scope/Who does this apply to?

This policy covers child and adult safeguarding. It applies to:

  • All employees contracted by Earthwatch.
  • Associated personnel whilst engaged with work for or related to Earthwatch Europe activities. This includes but is not limited to: trustees, consultants, associates, volunteers, participants, interns, researchers, contractors, project visitors including journalists, speakers, celebrities and politicians.
  • Collaborative/delivery partners working with Earthwatch will be expected to have an equivalent safeguarding policy in place, or to adopt the Earthwatch policy for the duration of the partnership.

The policy lays out our commitments, and informs employees and associated personnel of their responsibilities in relation to safeguarding. 

This policy does not cover: 

  • Allegations of sexual harassment in the workplace between employees – this is dealt with under the Harassment Policy; or
  • Safeguarding concerns in the wider community not perpetrated by Earthwatch employees or associated personnel.

What is safeguarding?

In the UK, safeguarding means protecting peoples’ health, wellbeing and human rights, and enabling them to live free from harm, abuse and neglect.

In the Earthwatch context we understand it to mean protecting people, including children and at risk adults, from harm that arises from coming into contact with our employees, events, projects, and work run directly by Earthwatch.

Policy Statement

Earthwatch believes that everyone we come into contact with, regardless of age, gender identity, disability, sexual orientation or ethnic origin has the right to be protected from all forms of harm, abuse, neglect and exploitation. We will not tolerate abuse or exploitation perpetrated by employees or associated personnel.

We commit to addressing safeguarding throughout our work, through the three pillars of prevention, reporting and response.

1: Prevention

Organisational responsibilities

We will:

  • Ensure everyone working on our behalf has access to, is familiar with, and knows their responsibilities within this policy.
  • Design, plan and undertake all our projects, activities and events in a way that protects people from any risk of harm that may arise from their coming into contact with us. This includes the way in which information about individuals in our projects is gathered, stored and communicated. Access to childrens’ contact data will be subject to additional safeguards.
  • Safeguard our own employees and associated personnel in line with the Health and Safety policy.
  • Implement stringent safeguarding procedures when recruiting, managing and deploying employees and associated personnel.
  • Ensure employees receive training on safeguarding at a level commensurate with their role in the organisation (see Training and Induction Minimum Standards Guidelines).
  • Follow up on reports of safeguarding concerns promptly and according to due process including any legal requirements in the relevant jurisdiction.

Employee and associated personnel responsibilities Child safeguarding

Earthwatch employees and associated personnel must not:

  • Engage in sexual activity with anyone under the age of 18.
  • Sexually abuse or exploit children.
  • Subject a child to physical, emotional or psychological abuse, or neglect.
  • Engage in any commercially exploitative activities with children including child labour or trafficking.

Adult safeguarding

Earthwatch employees and associated personnel must not:

  • Sexually abuse or exploit at risk adults.
  • Subject an at risk adult to physical, emotional or psychological abuse, or neglect.
  • Engage in any commercially exploitative activities including slave labour or trafficking.

Additionally, Earthwatch employees and associated personnel are obliged to:

  • Contribute to creating and maintaining an environment that prevents safeguarding violations and promotes the implementation of the Safeguarding Policy.
  • Report to the appropriate person any concerns or suspicions regarding safeguarding violations by those who this policy applies to, as detailed above in the policy scope.

2: Reporting

We will ensure that appropriate and accessible means of reporting safeguarding concerns are made available to employees, associated personnel, collaborative/delivery partners, and the individuals we come into contact with as a result of our work.

Anyone working on behalf of our organisation reporting concerns or complaints through formal whistleblowing channels will be protected by our Whistleblowing Policy.

We will also accept complaints or reports from external sources such as members of the public, partners and official bodies.  

How to report a safeguarding concern

Employees, associated personnel and collaborative/delivery partners who have a complaint or concern relating to safeguarding should report it immediately to their line manager, HR or Earthwatch’s Finance and Operations Director.  If the person making the report does not feel comfortable reporting to their line manager, HR or Finance and Operations Director (for example if they feel that the report will not be taken seriously, or if that person is implicated in the concern) they may report to any other appropriate employee.  For example, this could be the Senior Programme Manager, Chief Executive or a Trustee. 


3: Response

Subjects of Complaint

All subjects of complaint will be treated with respect and all allegations will be treated confidentially and with regard to due process.

Procedures for Responding to Reported Safeguarding Concerns:  

Anyone can raise a concern or make a complaint to Earthwatch about something they have experienced or witnessed. They can do this verbally to an Earthwatch employee or in writing to This can be done on behalf of somebody else, and may only involve a suspicion.

3.1 The person receiving the report should then document as much as possible of the following information: 

  • Name and contact (email or phone) of person making report if they are prepared to give this.
  • Name(s) of alleged survivor(s) of safeguarding incident(s) if different from above.
  • Name(s) of alleged perpetrator(s).
  • Description of incident(s).
  • Dates(s), times(s) and location(s) of incident(s).

If the alleged incident involves a child under the age of 18, the Finance and Operations Director (or person deputising for them) must be notified straight away and the matter will be immediately referred to external authorities. 

3.2 If it does not involve a child, at the earliest opportunity (within maximum 24 hours), it must be referred to the Finance and Operations Director (or a person deputising for either of them).

3.3 As soon as practicable, HR or the Director or Finance and Operations Director should convene a Decision Making Panel for handling the matter. This must include a Trustee and another member of the Executive Team, and none of the Panel can be implicated in the case in any way or have a conflict of interest. The Panel will seek specialist external advice from a professional support agency if required for specific questions, or they may invite an external expert adviser to join the Panel.

3.4 The Decision-Making Panel decide on next steps and determine whether it is possible to take the report forward. They should address the following questions:

  1. Does the reported incident(s) represent a breach of Earthwatch’s Safeguarding Policy or Code of Conduct [when implemented]?
  2. Is there sufficient information to follow up this report?
  3. What are Earthwatch’s obligations on informing any relevant external bodies?

3.5 If there is insufficient information to follow up the report, and no way to ascertain this information (for example if the person making the report did not leave contact details), the report should be filed (for as long as it is relevant) in case it can be of use in the future, and Earthwatch will look at any wider lesson learning.

3.6 If the decision is made to take the report forward, follow up may involve a formal investigation. If so, the Panel will take specialist advice regarding the terms of reference and engage an external investigator to carry out the investigation. For other steps, reference should be made to any expert external advice sourced.

3.7 The Panel will decide on what, how and with whom information will be shared relating to the case.

Confidentiality should be maintained at all times, and information shared on a need-to-know basis only.  The Panel will clarify which information needs to be shared with which stakeholder – information needs may be different. The person who initially raised the concern will normally be considered as a stakeholder and should be updated (if their contact details are available) as appropriate to the circumstances.  

3.8 Earthwatch will apply appropriate disciplinary measures to employees found in breach of this policy. Nonemployees may have their relationship with Earthwatch terminated.

Associated policy and procedures

Code of Conduct [when implemented]
Harassment Policy
Equal Opportunities and Dignity at Work Policy
Health and Safety Policy
Whistleblowing Policy
Data Protection Policy
Disciplinary Procedures
Training and Induction Minimum Standards
Field Manual (Updated Version in particular attention to Child Protection 7.1 Section)

Glossary of Terms


A person below the age of 18


Psychological, physical and any other infringement of an individual’s rights 

Psychological harm

Emotional or psychological abuse, including (but not limited to) humiliating and degrading treatment such as bad name calling, constant criticism, belittling, persistent shaming, solitary confinement and isolation


Safeguarding means taking all reasonable steps to prevent harm, particularly sexual exploitation, abuse and harassment from occurring; to protect people, especially vulnerable adults and children, from that harm; and to respond appropriately when harm does occur.

Safeguarding applies consistently and without exception across our projects, employees and associated personnel. It requires proactively identifying, preventing and guarding against all risks of harm, exploitation and abuse and having mature, accountable and transparent systems for response, reporting and learning when risks materialise. Those systems must be survivor-centred and also protect those accused until proven guilty.

Sexual abuse

The term ‘sexual abuse’ means the actual or threatened physical intrusion of a sexual nature, whether by force or under unequal or coercive conditions. 

Sexual exploitation

The term ‘sexual exploitation’ means any actual or attempted abuse of a position of vulnerability, differential power, or trust, for sexual purposes, including, but not limited to, profiting monetarily, socially or politically from the sexual exploitation of another.  This definition incudes human trafficking and modern slavery.


The person who has been abused or exploited. The term ‘survivor’ is often used in preference to ‘victim’ as it implies strength, resilience and the capacity to survive, however it is the individual’s choice how they wish to identify themselves.

At risk adult

Sometimes also referred to as vulnerable adult.  A person who is or may be in need of care by reason of mental or other disability, age or illness; or who is or may be unable to take care of him or herself, or unable to protect him or herself against significant harm or exploitation.

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