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.

Further Information

The different support services are explored in more detail below and progress is updated in our monthly newsletter. Or contact us on 0121 237 5890 or at enquiries@swm.org.uk for more information.

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 – input into Local Industrial Strategy – 17 July 2018

SWM comment – progress one year on – 27 April 2018

SWM Board Update -25 January 2018

SWM comment – a new era for sustainability in the West Midlands – 29 November 2017

SWM Board Update -16 October 2017

SWM comment – 3 indicators for the new Mayor to keep an eye on – 17 May 2017

SWM comment – how will you use your most important vote in 2017? – 17 October 2016

SWM Board Update – 28 June 2016 (contact enquiries@swm.org.uk for slides)

SWM Board Update  – 21 March 2016

SWM Comment – WMCA – one hit wonder, super group, or living on a prayer? – October 2015

SWM Comment – 3 sustainability tests for devolution in the West Midlands – September 2014

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.

Our local good practice networks


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’.

WMCA Environment Board Work Plan Progress Update – January 2019.

WMCA EDAG Meeting and Outputs – 22 November 2018.

WMCA EDAG Briefing note on carbon targets – 22 November 2018.

WMCA Environment Board – revised Terms of Reference, Action Plan, Scope of Low Emission Strategy – approved 9 November 2018.

WMCA Environment Board Meeting – 10 September 2018

WMCA Environmental Progress and Revised Environment Board agreed by Mayor and Board – 20 July 2018

WMCA Environment Board Progress Meeting – Agenda and Outputs -23 May 2018

SWM annual conference and workshop with the Mayor on the WMCA Environment Delivery Board Plan – 28 November 2017

WMCA Environment Portfolio Priorities agreed by Mayor and WMCA Board Board – 8 September 2017

SWM Annual Conference 2016: Steering a steady course for sustainability in uncertain times. Mayoral Hustings – 21 November 2016

WMCA Programme Board Sustainability Update – 8 July 2016

Birmingham Green Commission – WMCA Update – 3 March 2016


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.

Combined Authority Sustainability Benchmarking Technical Report – annual analysis of metrics – May2019

WM Industrial Strategy – Our Comment – May 2019

WM Industrial Strategy Consultation Draft – SWM Review – Nov 2018

WM Industrial Strategy and Clean Growth GB Green Week Event -18 Oct 2018

WM Industrial Strategy – SWM Review – 5 Sept 2018

WM Industrial Strategy – Engagement Pack for WMCA Environment Board Members – 8June 2018

Combined Authority Sustainability Benchmarking Technical Report – annual analysis of metrics – May 2018

Environment 25 Year Strategy – Opportunities for the West Midlands – February 2018

SWM 2020 Roadmap Monitoring Report – December 2017

UK Clean Growth Strategy, Industrial Strategy and WM Devolution Deal: Opportunities for WM Local Industrial Strategies – December 2017

Combined Authority Sustainability Benchmarking Technical Report – analysis of metrics – July 2017

SWM comment – UK industrial strategy needs to learn from the WM – April 2017

SWM consultation response to UK industrial strategy – April 2017

SWM 2020 Roadmap Monitoring Report – November 2016

WMCA Powers and Activities – Draft Sustainability Review – November 2015

SWM annual conference and feedback to WMCA on sustainability priorities for Strategic Economic Plan – November 2015

SWM 2020 Roadmap Monitoring Report – 2015


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’.

Update to Ashden Combined Authority Sustainability Good Practice Network – September 2018

Combined Authority Sustainability Benchmarking Technical Report – analysis of strategies – September 2018

Fit for the Future II: Combined Authorities, Core Cities and Local Enterprise Partnerships Climate Change and Low Carbon Good Practice – January 2018

Combined Authority Sustainability Benchmarking Technical Report – analysis of strategies – October 2017

West Midlands Local Authority benchmarking report – June 2016

Fit for the Future? Local Enterprise Partnerships’ Climate Ready and Low Carbon Economy Good Practice-January 2016


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.

Energy and low carbon activity and structures in combined authority areas – January 2018

SWM Submission to Regional Energy Innovation Zone Commission – October 2017

SWM response to BEIS local energy hubs consultation – October 2017

Energy Capital Strategic Approach – July 2017

Energy Hustings for Mayoral Candidates – March 2017

West Midlands Energy and Low Carbon Strategy Analysis for WMCA and Energy Capital – April 2017

Quarterly Energy Policy Updates – since September 2016


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.

SWM Comment – what makes sense for the climate also benefits business – June 2017

West Midlands Science and Innovation Audit -June 2017

Low Carbon and Climate Change Research Strengths in the West Midlands – May 2016

Innovation Low Carbon Working Group – running since 2014


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.

Workstream update to WM Green Business Clubs Network – Feb 2018

Tokyo Seminar – UK’s Industrial Strategy Affordable Energy and Clean Growth – A view from the Midlands, UK – March 2017

Low Carbon Growth Support Project – free energy audits & funding for equipment and consultancy-November 2017

EU-China Low Carbon Cities, Wuhan, China – June 2016

Quarterly Environmental Legislation Update – running since March 2015

Monthly SWM funding newsletter – running since 2009

West Midlands Low Carbon Investment Prospectus – November 2012

Green Business Clubs Network – running since 2011


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.

WMCA Planning Charter and Buildings Standards Briefing – May2018


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.

WMCA environment and health priorities for Defra workshop – September 2018

WMCA progress on integrating natural capital within operations and strategy – June 2018

Update to Natural Capital Roundtable – March 2018

Natural Capital Plan for WMCA – July 2017

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.

SWM Comment – Air Quality – Passive Choking or Time to Change? – June 2018

WMCA and other cities asks of Government – National Clean Air Summit – June 2018

Brief for WMCA on Strategic Approach to Air Quality – May 2018

Roundtable on Air Quality – Ecuity, WMCA, SWM – Dec 2017


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.