History and Achievements

Sustainability West Midlands (SWM) was created in 2002 as a not-for-profit company limited by guarantee by several public organisations. Its purpose was to provide a ‘regional sustainable development roundtable’ and promote a regional sustainability strategy for the West Midlands. Since our establishment our chairs, board directors, staff, members and stakeholders have helped grow SWM and increase our role in creating a more sustainable future for the businesses and communities in the West Midlands that support our five million citizens.

Key achievements on our journey to date…

So far in 2020…

  • Completed the first part of our support to the Committee on Climate Change to lead a consortium to help improve the accessibility of the next UK Climate Change Risk Assessment.
  • Completed a review of SWM member City of Wolverhampton Council’s climate emergency action plan.
  • Embraced the new virtual way of working, responding to Covid-19, to run training and workshops for and with clients such as Siemens, Mott MacDonald, City of Wolverhampton Council and Heritage Fund.
  •  Prior to the Covid-19 outbreak, supported SWM member Willmott Dixon to help provide focus to their new regional sustainability strategy.
  • Continued our partnership, for the sixth year, with the Innovation Alliance for the West Midlands by running the Innovative Low Carbon Working Group and associated activities.
  • Our Chief Executive, Anna Bright, is a finalist in the IEMA Sustainability Impact Awards for Sustainability Leader.

In 2019

In 2018

  • We act as Sustainability Delivery Partner for the West Midlands Combined Authority for the second year with our associate, Dr. Simon Slater, acting as interim Head of Environment.
  • We support all six West Midlands LEPs with the development of their BEIS funded energy strategies.
  • We are funded by BEIS to provide a second sustainability benchmark of all LEP, combined authority and Core Cities and deliver a conference in Birmingham.
  • We grow our team with the recruitment of our new Sustainability Adviser Tom Hendy and promotion of Alan Carr to the Senior Sustainability Adviser role.
  • We maintain our role as a network of networks; supporting LEPs, green business clubs, local authorities, NHS trusts, universities and green communities. We hope this will continue to make the West Midlands the easiest and most well connected place for investors to do business; leading to the innovation needed for our bright green future to be realised.

In 2017

  • Our funders include the Environment Agency, Climate-KIC, the Marches LEP, the Sustainable Development Unit, Severn Trent and the Midcounties Cooperative.
  • We recruit our new Chair Tim Haywood, and say goodbye to Peter Braithwaite who supported us as Chair for over five years.
  • We recruit our second Young Director: Matt Beveridge from the University of Birmingham.
  • Our annual conference includes presentations from the West Midlands Mayor Andy Street and Baroness Brown of Cambridge.

In 2016

  • We introduced membership fees for the first time.
  • Our annual conference includes the first hustings of the candidates for West Midlands Mayor.
  • Our funders include the Environment Agency, Birmingham & Solihull Mental Health NHS Foundation Trust, Severn Trent, Staffordshire County Council, Energy Systems Catapult and Climate-KIC.
  • We make changes to our leadership team with the appointment of Anna Bright as our new Chief Executive and Dr. Simon Slater moving to Associate Director of Policy and Partnerships after seven years hard work as Chief Executive.

In 2015

  • The Government regular refers to us as the first port of call on sustainability news and advice within the West Midlands. We also become the only remaining sustainability champion body in England, outside London.
  • We update our Futures Toolkit work with the Government Office of Science and partners and use this for our innovation, sustainability reviews, and training with our members. For example our work with the Midcounties Cooperative results in them gaining a Queen’s award for sustainability.

In 2014

  • We work with DECC and our members and networks to secure the largest number of local energy network studies in the UK. We also produce a national guide on good practice for local councils looking to procure a local energy and heat network supplier.
  • With Climate UK and the Environment Agency we produce the first national sustainability guidance for LEPs and partners –  Resilient Growth, and then advise on national and local EU funding programmes.
  • Our local authority sustainability annual benchmarking tool and results, becomes the UK’s longest running sustainability assessment tool for councils. The latest results are reporedt at the Local Government Association conference.
  • Our relaunched website helps promote good practice, funding, training and our members and networks. Our twitter account rapidly breaks the 1000 followers mark, while our website, newsletters and other events are regular reaching a unique monthly audience of over 2,000, but still growing by an average of 20% per year.

In 2013

  • We continue to support LEPs through our leadership group, production of an updated evidence base and joint working on EU funding bids for the region securing over £130m of funding.
  • The UK Government supports us to promote the West Midlands low carbon offer at the Euro-Asia Economic Forum in China. This forms part of a wider range of activities leading to record Chinese and other inward investment into energy and green jobs opportunities in our region.
  • Meanwhile our new Chair, fresh from delivering sustainability for the Olympics is promoting the talent we have in the region through our first annual Young Director training position beginning on our board.

In 2012

  • We secured the largest national share of Carbon Trust funding for school energy efficiency support for our local authorities.
  • Together with similar organisations across the UK, we form the umbrella body Climate UK to help share good practice and deliver national contracts.
  • We produce the UK’s first joint Local Enterprise Partnership (LEP) Low Carbon Investment Prospectus. for the West Midlands.
  • We see the culmination of years of effort from ourselves and our members with the launch of Birmingham Energy Savers – the UK’s largest retrofit housing programme.

In 2011

  • Our intensive work with Birmingham City Council – Europe’s largest local authority, helps produce their first climate change strategy and draft energy strategy.
  • With the demise of many support schemes and graduate unemployment at record levels, we dig deep in our reserves to launch our Graduate Careers Service. 

In 2010

  • We produce a set of sustainability priorities based on the environmental and social challenges faced by the region which informed our 2020 roadmap to achieve our vision. This makes us the only region in the UK to have a clear vision, plan, action and annual monitoring for a more sustainable future.
  • We secured the international launch of HRH Prince of Wales’s environmental campaign at our event to showcase local good practice, gaining widespread coverage for the region. We also secure a £1 million fund from government to support local authorities on climate change.
  • Late in the year we launch our first Green Leaders competition which celebrates the achievements of individuals in the region.

In 2009

  • We produce an sustainability assessment for key investment sites in the region, with many schemes such as New Street Station, Longbridge and the JLR engine plant taking on board our advice and links to new partners and funding.

In 2007

  • We work with Advantage West Midlands (AWM) and partners to produce the UK’s first low carbon regional economic strategy: ‘Connected to Success’.
  • Building on the evidence base behind Connected to Success, we produce a vision of what aspirational and realistic success should look like in 2020.

In 2006

  • SWM is recognised by the UK Government as an ‘independent sustainability champion body’ as one of only two regions out of nine fulfilling all the criteria set by the Sustainable Development Commission.

In 2005

  • The Regional Sustainable Development Framework is produced. This leads to the development of the West Midlands Sustainability Checklist which is incorporated into Regional Planning Guidance.

In 2004

  • SWM produce a climate impact review of the region and help establish one of the first climate adaptation partnerships which is subsequently rolled out nationally.

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