Climate change dialogue underway

Discussion at the eventWe had so much interest in our new State of the Region dialogue on climate change on Monday, that we had to move it to a bigger venue!

The dialogue got off to a great start, and there seemed to be real concensus amongst the forty or so delegates on how to progress some of the issues raised.

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Understanding labour migration

Anne GreenAt the launch of the State of the Region dialogue on population change Anne Green, from the Institute for Employment Research, spoke about recent developments in labour migration, such as the impact that the recession may have on migration and about the difficulties of measuring short-term international mobility.

Understanding migration is important when trying to understand population change.

Anne began by talking about the changes in migration from Eastern Europe and the implications for local areas. Recent data show that there has been a decrease in worker registrations from Eastern Europeans, particularly in large urban areas.

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Subnational population projections

Anthony SzaryThe Observatory’s recent event to launch the State of the Region dialogue on population change started with a presentation from Anthony Szary on subnational population projections.

Anthony is the Regional Statistician for the Office for National Statistics and is based at the Observatory.

Anthony took the group through the ONS process for calculating population projections at the subnational level. The easy part (relatively!) of the calculation is to take account of trends in fertility and mortality while it’s much more difficult to try to measure trends in migration.

The latest population projections show that the West Midlands population is expected to grow by 11.4% between 2007 and 2027 to over 6 million. This is slower than the expected growth across many of the other English regions.  However, this projection is based on past trends in fertility, mortality and migration and could be very different if, for example, the birth rate became much higher or lower.
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Universities, industry and innovation: brokering for successful knowledge transfer

Birmingham City University logoSpeaking at the Observatory’s innovation workshop on 19 March 2009, Prof. Lynn Martin from Birmingham City University discussed the role that universities can have as catalysts for innovation, but also how barriers continue to exist that weaken universities’ potential.

How well a university links with other types of organisations has been found to depend on its strengths, geographic location and relative business infrastructure – and on the social capital of both academics and local entrepreneurs.

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OPAL (Open Air Laboratories)

Boy looking through magnifying glassThe OPAL (Open Air Laboratories) project is a new partnership initiative funded by the National Lottery through the Big Lottery Fund (£11.75 million) and co-coordinated by Imperial College London.

One of its major aims is to get research scientists working with local communities on local environmental issues.

Portfolio partners include nine universities such as Birmingham, Natural History Museum, Open University, Field Studies Council, Meteorological Office and the National Biodiversity Network.

The project will also work closely with the Environment Agency and many voluntary sector organisations. The portfolio has three major themes of particular environmental importance: biodiversity, pollution and climate.

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Regional habitat data project

Woodland sceneThe Regional Habitat Data Project is managed by the West Midlands Biodiversity Partnership and aims to create a reliable spatial representation of all known priority BAP habitat across the West Midlands region.

This project intends to pull together all the existing reliable national, regional and local data sets, making them available as a regional resource as a tool for future planning and development of strategies.

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Understanding our local populations

Richard Wilson from Sandwell PCTAt the Observatory’s recent event to launch the State of the Region dialogue on population change, Richard Wilson from Sandwell PCT spoke about some of the problems with population data. However, with help from quotes from David Brent to Albert Einstein, Richard argued that these problems should not lead to ‘data paralysis’ where problems with data become reasons for not making decisions.

Richard said that although population change is nothing new, it is important to understand how our population is changing by understanding, for example, which age groups are changing quickest, what the new family structures are and where new people are coming from.

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