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Regional Sustainability MOT – how are we doing?

Sustainability West Midlands recently hosted a meeting with Defra, Government Office, Advantage West Midlands, West Midlands Regional Assembly and other regional partners to discuss how the region was doing in terms of sustainability and the future direction of the Sub-National Review.

Sustainability West Midlands contributed and picked up on some interesting themes which we will be following up with our partners.

Strategic intent – the words and ambitions of our plans and policies in the region are perceived by Government and the region as leading the way on the low carbon agenda. However the challenge is following this through into delivery when it’s a complex or shared agenda.

The recent partnership working around agreeing the regions 20 top joint investment priority areas has helped to focused joint delivery on the ground. However more could be done on following through the sustainability intent of these investments through into delivery.

There is concern that the low carbon and climate change agenda, although an appropriate focus, does risk marginalizing the broader sustainability agenda such as inequalities and the natural environment.

The overall focus on sustainable economic growth in terms of an economy supporting an healthy and just society living with environmental limits was welcomed. However there is still much work to do before this concept is broadly shared, understood and delivered.

The region does have a good range of leaders on the sustainability agenda, but they are more likely to be at senior level in the larger companies and within middle management in the public sector. In terms of public sector and elected leaders there is still more work to be done in supporting them in their role as sustainable community leaders.

The structures around Sub Regional Review and the future Single Integrated Regional Strategy are still emerging. The enthusiasm and desire from partners to incorporate sustainability sensibly at the heart of this process is there, but it is still a work in progress which Sustainability West Midlands will be part of.

Simon Slater

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