How Sustainability West Midlands are using low carbon economy research

Here’s a short video with Dr Simon Slater, Executive Director at Sustainability West Midlands.

Local authority and business leaders in the West Midlands were asking Simon ‘what are the risks and what are the opportunities in the low carbon economy?’

In this video, Simon discusses how working with the Observatory to research and evidence regional growth into a low carbon economy is helping his organisation and partners in the region answer such questions.

(Watch the video on Viddler.com)

West Midlands Culture Programme for London 2012: the impact so far

Two people jumping in the airThe West Midlands Culture Programme for London 2012 (WMCPforL2012) has attracted a total audience of just under a quarter of a million people (220,000), according to a report (pdf, 1.5mb) launched by the West Midlands Cultural Observatory this month. That’s around two and a half Wembley Stadiums full of people for those of you that like to visualise these things!

In the first of a series of reports, West Midlands Culture Programme for London 2012: An evaluation of impact (2008-2010) (pdf, 1.5mb) presents evidence associated with:

  • The social and economic impact of the programme to date
  • The extent and value of media coverage that for the programme
  • The programme’s impact on the capacity of the West Midlands cultural sector
  • Changes in peoples’ perception of the region and its cultural offer (having taking part in programme activities and events)

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Roundup of communicating information and data through storytelling part 2

Groups working together at Communicating Effectively event

Photo by David Cheeseman

This post rounds up the second communicating effectively – telling stories using data workshop, which was held in Birmingham, 22nd April 2010.

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Low carbon economy and sustainability – the same thing?

Last week I attended the annual SCPnet conference in the West Midlands. SCPnet stands for Sustainable Consumption and Production network and is a partnership network dedicated to promoting the philosophy of sustainable consumption and production (SCP) at a sub-national level.

I must say that I found the conference very interesting and insightful and the quality of the speakers was outstanding. This conference gave me a great opportunity to reflect on what is sustainable consumption and production, its importance, and how it links to the low carbon work we are doing at the Observatory.

Sustainable consumption and production

‘Securing the Future’, the UK Government sustainable development strategy, states:

‘Increasing prosperity, in the UK and across the world, has allowed many people to enjoy the benefits of goods and services which were once available to just a few. Nevertheless, the environmental impacts from our consumption and production patterns remain severe, and inefficient use of resources is a drag on the UK’s economy and business. We need a major shift to deliver new products and services with lower environmental impacts across their life cycle, while at the same time boosting competitiveness. And we need to build on people’s growing awareness of social and environmental concerns, and the importance of their roles as citizens and consumers.’ (DEFRA (2005) Securing the Future, p.43)

An alternative definition by Constanza (2000) says:

‘Probably the most challenging task facing humanity today is the creation of a shared vision of a sustainable and desirable society, one that can provide permanent prosperity within the biophysical constraints of the real world in a way that is fair and equitable to all of humanity, to other species, and to future generations. This vision does not now exist, although the seeds are there.’

Sustainability and the low carbon economy

So going back to the question in the title, are sustainability and low carbon the same thing? I believe the answer is no.

The West Midlands Regional Observatory recently published the research The Low Carbon Economy in the West Midlands. The research highlights that a low carbon economy is one where businesses deliver products and services while reducing their level of carbon emissions.

In this sense, the low carbon economy is just one element (an import one) of sustainability. In the same way that the environment is much more than only carbon emissions, sustainability is much more than just environmental issues.

Climate change, carbon emissions, environment impacts, social issues, waste, recycling, population growth, lifestyles, supply chain, energy, environment quality and deprivation are just a few examples of topics that have an impact on sustainability.

Also, businesses, government, people and the third sector must all work together. Sustainability is not something it can be delivered by only a few people in isolation.

In 2006 the report I will if you will presented the ‘triangle of change,’ a framework where people, business and government interact in a coordinated effort to move towards a more sustainable society.

If you want to know more about sustainable consumption and production, here are some websites that can help:

We are planning to add more posts about the 2010 SCPnet Conference soon. If you’re interested keep an eye on this blog.

Open data in Warwickshire

Warwickshire County CouncilGuest blog post by Jim Morton, Applications Architect at Warwickshire County Council

Last week we launched the Warwickshire Open Data site at http://opendata.warwickshire.gov.uk, joining other authorities such as London, Lincoln, Lichfield and Kent who have already started opening up their data to the public.

We hope that it will provide a greater level of transparency about the work of the council, as well as stimulating the development of websites and applications that can make use of our data, to provide new benefits to our citizens and visitors to the area.

It is going to take a while to build the site up as the focal point for all of our public facing information but we have taken some positive steps to build the foundations of how we should work with data from now on.

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State of the Region – image and identity of the West Midlands

West Bromwich at nightLast week, we started a new State of the Region dialogue on the image and identity of the West Midlands.

The future of the region will be determined by the decisions that individuals make – decisions such as whether to locate in the region, to invest in business or property, to study at one of our universities or to visit the region for business or leisure.

All of these decisions will be influenced by people’s view of the region’s image and identity.

A range of information is already collected, locally, regionally and nationally, about how people view the region and how it compares with other places.

There is also more general research, looking at what drives and changes image and identity. The workshop brought together different sources of evidence to determine the story they tell us about the West Midlands, summarised in the three presentations available below.

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Continuing the legacy of the Women’s Enterprise Centre of Expertise

Thanks to Marla Nelson from the Strategic Women’s Enterprise Project for providing this guest post.

A new initiative has been launched in the West Midlands as a legacy project building on the work and findings of the Women’s Enterprise Centre of Expertise (WECOE).

The Strategic Women’s Enterprise Project is managed by Enterprise Solutions, who will continue to influence, lobby and advocate for the women’s enterprise agenda in the West Midlands region, funded by regional development agency Advantage West Midlands.

The project aims to assist Advantage West Midlands in implementing WECOE policy recommendations, and work with Business Link West Midlands and other key strategic partners to ensure policy and practice is mainstreamed in supporting greater diversity in enterprise and business support across the region.  The 2-year WECOE project completed in December 2009.

To find out more about the Strategic Women’s Enterprise Project, and Enterprise Solutions (MN), contact Marla Nelson at marla@enterprisesolutionsmn.com or call 07515 597 595.