The 2009 Observatory conference, West Midlands: Fit for the Future?, provided a forum for debate on economic recovery in the West Midlands.
One element of the debate concentrated on how to link the environment and economy better, based on chapters 4 and 9 of the Fit for the Future? book.
Delegates at the Environment and Economy workshop discussed Green Infrastructure, leadership and the value of the environment, aiming to understand how to embed the environment into regional policy making more effectively. Discussions ranged from the best way of doing this to overcoming what’s currently standing in the way.
Bill Heslegrave (Forestry Commission) presented on Green Infrastructure, emphasising its economic benefits. This picked up on the key points raised by Bill in his 11th chapter (PDF, 928kb) of the book.
Discussions afterwards identified the following priorities for this area:
- Raise awareness of the benefits of Green Infrastructure, and share good practice.
- Identify opportunities to link green infrastructure to other policy areas, and solve problems.
Discussions focused on the following priorities:
- One voice for the environment sector, and tailoring the message to the audience.
- More joint working – the forthcoming Strategy for the West Midlands should help this.
- Find smarter ways of selling the environment – we could learn from the cultural sector.
Discussions stemmed around the following points:
- The challenges of putting a price on the environment and who “owns” it?
- Developing a register of assets that could act as a balance sheet to review regularly. Should we develop an environmental “doomsday” book to list what actually exists?
- Scenarios of how people would like to live in the future could help to change behaviour. A low carbon vision for the West Midlands in 2020 has started to do this.
Delegates debated whether sustainable development policy was sustainable, if based on technology, or just responding to increased consumer demand. The need to compare the West Midlands to more realistic competitors across Europe, rather than just focusing on England was also covered.
These questions were put forward to the conference question panel:
- How do we ‘sell’ the environment and its benefits better?
- Can we identify a more future-proofed set of benchmarks? Look ‘further afield’ not worry about other English regions.
- How do the panel see green infrastructure being embedded in the new regional strategy?
- How sustainable is sustainable development? What can we do to encourage more sustainable behaviour?
- Would working with the general public to produce a vision of a low carbon, environmentally friendly lifestyle help develop better policies?
We welcome your thoughts on any of these issues. Add your comments below.
Filed under: Annual Conference, Economy & Labour Force, Environment, Events, Low carbon, Sustainable communities, Sustainable development, West Midlands Tagged: | Annual Conference, economy, environment, West Midlands, wmroconf09