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)

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New indicators on regional progress towards sustainable development

An update of 46 measures of regional progress towards sustainable development in England was published on 25 February 2010 by Government statisticians in Defra.

The indicators help provide an overview of economic, social and environmental issues in each English region.

Here are the West Midlands highlights:

The proportion of new dwellings built on previously developed land was higher than the national average and vehicle related theft was lower than the national average in the West Midlands. The West Midlands had seen the largest percentage decrease in the number of people reported killed or seriously injured in road accidents.

The rate of violent crime was highest in the West Midlands.  Infant mortality was the highest of all regions. The proportion of households experiencing fuel poverty was amongst the highest of the regions.

Source: Defra news release 25 February 2010 [link no longer available]

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Sustainable Cities Index: analysis for the West Midlands

Cover of Sustainable Cities Index 2009

Birmingham, Coventry and Wolverhampton are the three cities from the West Midlands included in the Sustainable Cities Index (pdf, 4.3mb) published recently by Forum for the Future.

This is the third year that the index has been published, which tracks sustainability progress achieved in Britain’s 20 largest cities. The index is designed to give a snapshot of sustainability in each city, aiming to encourage healthy competition, stimulating discussion and suggesting new ways of thinking about cities.

This post provides a short analysis of findings for the West Midlands cities and also highlights the similarities that this work has with our State of the Region dialogue on sustainable communities.

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What does a sustainable city look like?

Sustainability West Midlands logoA couple of weeks ago I attended ‘Voices from the future 2020: how are we housed?’, an event organised by Sustainability West Midlands.

This is the first event in their ‘Voices from the future 2020’ series which develop themes from the report A low carbon vision for the West Midlands in 2020. The aim of this series is to stimulate thinking amongst decision makers in the West Midlands of the positive future we can have, and how to get there.

The main presentation, delivered by Stellan Fryxell, partner of Tenborn Architects in Stockholm, showed a great example of what a sustainable city looks like.

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Prosperity without growth?

prosperity-without-growth1A major new report by the Sustainable Development Commission (SDC) argues that the pursuit of economic growth is one of the root causes of the current financial crisis, as well contributing to a growing environmental crisis and undermining well-being in developed countries.

The Prosperity without growth? report says that the current global recession should be the occasion to forge a new economic system equipped to avoid the shocks and negative impacts associated with our reliance on growth. The report calls on world leaders to adopt a 12-step plan to make the transition to a fair, sustainable, low-carbon economy.

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Low carbon housing in the West Midlands

Report coverAn important report in the West Midlands’ aim to achieve its carbon reduction targets was launched on 23rd March 2009.

Low Carbon Housing – developing a baseline for refurbishment in the West Midlands (pdf, 1.59mb) was jointly commissioned by the West Midlands Regional Assembly and Advantage West Midlands.

Amongst the report’s findings was the fact that the West Midlands will need to spend an additional £189.1 million per year on installing energy efficiency measures into homes, which equates to an additional 68,000 tonnes of CO2 a year, if it is to meet its CO2 emissions target.

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Future of the West Midlands

The future of the West Midlands reportAt the end of January, I attended and spoke at an interesting event to launch a new report The Future of the West Midlands (pdf, 361kb).

The Smith Institute, an independent social and economic research think tank based in London, organised the event.

The report aims to raise the level of debate about the future of the West Midlands and highlight what policy changes are needed to make a real and lasting difference to the region.

With the forthcoming reforms to regional and local government through the sub national review, this debate is very timely and gains an added significance.

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