Our Comment: WMCA one hit wonder, super group or living on a prayer?

A day or two after our Annual Conference and we are reflecting on all the excellent feedback and ideas relating to ‘Sustainability and the West Midlands Combined Authority (WMCA)’. With over 100 business and community leaders in attendance we took a closer look at the new authority’s priorities and the crucial role of a sustainability agenda in ensuring lasting and inclusive prosperity across the region.

One of the issues that emerged was the narrow short-term rules and focus on economic development set by Treasury. Yet behind the scenes our local elected leaders are trying to play a longer game for an improved future for our businesses, communities and our environment.

Unfortunately this tension has led to the current prospectus material being aimed at London, not at local stakeholders. As a result the WMCA risks being perceived as a ‘one hit economic wonder’ rather than a ‘super group’ that could generate multiple hits over the next decade of innovation, resource efficiency, shared growth, solutions for global challenges, and a chart topping quality of life.

The good news is from the lively discussion is that we are already ‘half way there’ with the current assets, skills and strengths within the WMCA area and surrounding region to use this once-in-a-generation opportunity to create a brighter long-term future.

Our future role with the WMCA

 “High level ambition, leadership and networks from SWM, has kept the West Midlands on the global sustainability map. Don’t under-estimate how important it is to have the only regional sustainability body left in the UK” Jonathon Porritt

“If we didn’t already have an organisation such as SWM, the WMCA would have had to create one…” Martin Reeves, Coventry City Council

We were encouraged by the support from the conference delegates and WMCA on the clear role for SWM to help provide the longer term, cross-sector and independent support our local leaders and officers require. We will be busy in the next few months taking this forward with partners and reporting any progress in our monthly newsletters.

For our annual conference summary and presentations go here.