West Midlands Combined Authority – Sustainability Support Programme
The West Midlands Combined Authority (WMCA) is a complex and evolving organisation with a range of direct and indirect levers of influence that can have a positive impact on sustainability.
SWM has been delivering a series of sustainability support programmes for the WMCA since January 2016. As the Government recognised regional sustainability champion body, we were also formally recognised by the WMCA in July 2016 as their sustainability delivery partner.
Summary of Results to Date
- The WMCA is 2nd in sustainability benchmarking with other Combined Authorities – due to integration of existing sustainability priorities within strategies and monitoring.
- Strong evidence base indicating key future market opportunities for WMCA are in low carbon transport, buildings and energy which are being promoted internationally.
- Depth of local partnerships and networks within environment and sustainability sector willing to be aligned to use help deliver WMCA economic, social and environmental agenda.
- Creation of Environment Portfolio holder for WMCA Board and approved Environment programme to make WMCA ‘best in class’ in sustainability.
We did a summary review – of one year on of the WMCA and sustainability in April 2018.
This is also reflected in the WMCA Annual Plan for 18/19 published at the AGM in June 2018 – where for the first time it has an environment section reflection on past progress and future priorities.
We also worked with the WMCA to produce the first environment section on their website in August 2018.
Summary of Support to Date
Since early 2016 we have provided the following support services:
- The Independent Sustainability Commission and Advisor for the WMCA
- Stakeholder Management and Communications
- The WMCA Environment Delivery Board and Action Plan
- Strategy Development and Monitoring for the WMCA
- Good Practice Benchmarking for the WMCA
- Programme Development in Energy, Innovation, Green Finance and Business Support, Natural Capital, and Air Quality
- An Interim Head of Environment – January-October 2018.
The Independent Sustainability Commission for the WMCA
“The input of SWM has been huge in helping set our priorities” Andy Street, WMCA Mayor, July 2017
Since January 2016 the SWM private sector lead cross-sector board has acted as the independent sustainability commission and advisor for the WMCA by regularly providing advice for the WMCA on the sustainability support programme.
SWM Board Update – 28 June 2016 (contact firstname.lastname@example.org for slides)
Stakeholder Management and Communications
“SWM provides a point of access for us to reach a vital range of stakeholders” Andy Street, WMCA Mayor November 2017
SWM uses its extensive range of members, networks, partners and communications to provide regularly updates and opportunities to get involved in WMCA activities – from Mayoral Hustings, to consultation events, or signing up to help local youth employment schemes. As a result over 3,000 local stakeholders are reached monthly.
The WMCA Environment Board and Action Plan
In November 2016 we held the first ever Mayoral Hustings, with the winner Andy Street, pledging to come back annually to our annual conference to report progress. Since July 2017 we have provided support to his newly created post on the WMCA Board of the Environment Portfolio Holder. This has included creating an Environment Board made of of the Cabinet members for environment from the local councils. Also the creation of the Environment Advisory and Delivery Group (EDAG) made up of officers and partners who lead on key actions within the Board Action Plan which aims to help the WMCA to become ‘best in class’.
Strategy Development and Monitoring for the WMCA
“SWM has used their independence, networks, and evidence to help us integrate sustainability within the long-term direction and monitoring of our strategy and programmes. We look forward to continue working with them as our sustainability delivery partner.” Martin Reeves Chief Executive WMCA 2016
We have use the sustainability strategy for the region Roadmap 2020, our futures work, evidence base, and stakeholders to provide strategy development and monitoring support. As a result the WMCA overarching Strategic Economic Plan (SEP) and Performance Management Framework (PMF) incorporate key economic, social and environmental objectives and indicators. We are now focusing on the new West Midlands Local Industrial Strategy.
Good Practice Benchmarking for the WMCA
We have conducted a range of local and national benchmarking exercises to identify and encourage good sustainability practice. Our benchmarking of Combined Authorities in 2017 revealed that the WMCA was 2nd in terms of sustainability within strategies and structures. As a result this has informed the WMCA Environment Delivery Board and Plan to help the organisation become ‘best in class’.
Programme Development – Green Energy
Since January 2017 SWM has represented the WMCA on the Energy Capital Initiative to provide policy and partnership advice as the programme develops. As a result we have a Mayoral commitment to 100% clean energy by 2050, and Government support for an energy strategy and exploring special Energy Innovation Zones in the 2nd Devolution Deal.
Programme Development – Innovation
Since 2016 SWM has represented the WMCA on the Science City Innovation Working Group, now the West Midlands Innovation Alliance, to provide policy and partnership support. As a result the WMCA has approved the £40m Centre for Demonstration for Intelligent Systems. Also the Mayor launched the West Midlands Science and Innovation Audit which identified 75% of all future market opportunities for the region are in low carbon transport, buildings, and energy.
Programme Development – Green Finance and Business Support
We have worked with the Local Enterprise Partnership Growth Hubs, WMCA Growth Company, and the SWM Green Business Clubs networks, to promote accessible green finance and legislation updates. We have also supported inward investment visits to the region and abroad. As a result we annual promote over £300m of accessible funding for local businesses and communities and support many inward investment enquiries.
Programme Development – Buildings
We established the Sustainable Housing Action Partnership (SHAP) in 2005, which is now an indepedent not-for-profit company leading research and good practice in the region on sustainable homes and energy efficiency retrofitting to existing buildings. We also work with our construction members to promote and share good practice via our public sector and NHS estates network. We are currently working with SHAP and others to develop a work programme within the WMCA Environment Delivery Board and Action Plan.
Programme Development – Natural Capital
We have worked with partners to hold a Mayoral hustings on the natural environment and as result this is built into the new WMCA Environment Delivery Board and Action Plan.
Programme Development – Air Quality
We have contributed with our members to internal and external roundtables with the WMCA around air quality, health and transport, and electrification and manufacturing opportunities of low carbon transport.
Programme Development – Internal Environment Management
We have worked previously with Centro on their environmental strategy, prior to them becoming Transport for West Midlands, the transport arm of the WMCA. The current internal environmental strategy has been rebranded for the WMCA. We are working with the internal WMCA team to ensure that the good internal progress is reported to the new Environment Delivery Board and supported.