Combined Authority Sustainability Benchmarking Technical Report – analysis of strategies

Date of the resource

October 2017

Author of the resource

Sustainability West Midlands

Purpose of the resource

Sustainability West Midlands (SWM) is the sustainability delivery partner for the West Midlands Combined Authority (WMCA). This report is part of an ongoing support programme to help the WMCA integrate sustainability within its strategy and operations, drawing on good local and national practice. This report looks at how the WMCA is performing against the other combined authorities (CAs) in England in terms of reported sustainability activity in leadership, strategy and delivery and provides a series of recommendations to improve performance. This is the first sustainability benchmarking exercise undertaken for CAs and the intention is to repeat this annually to help measure progress and identify and share good practice. The research for this report was carried out in August 2017 and then reported to the WMCA to inform their environmental priorities and action plan in September 2017 and a national good practice event with Department for Business Energy and Industrial Strategy (BEIS) in October 2017. There is also an accompanying report looking at the benchmarking of the CAs nationally against key sustainability outcome indicators developed by the WMCA.

Key findings

No combined authorities are yet showing ‘leading evidence’ against any of the key metrics. The average sustainability score across all combined authorities is only 36%, with the metric against which there is greater progress is around transport, averaging 45% overall. Strategy is comfortably the strongest area, with most CAs recognising the need to integrate aspects of sustainability into their strategic plan, to implement targets or to produce sustainability-specific related plans. The best performing were Greater Manchester, followed by the West Midlands and Liverpool. This will at least partly be due to how long these combined authorities have been operating. West of England and Cambridge and Peterborough are the poorest performing to date. Likewise, these are relatively new authorities which may explain this. The good news is that across almost all CAs there are examples of good practice in leadership, strategy, and delivery that can be rapidly shared and applied to help improve sustainability performance.

Links and contact information

SWM can share the results of this study with other individual CAs if they wish to see the details and justification of their allocated scores. We can also suggest areas for improvement and develop an improvement plan with their local partners. For national organisations seeking to identify good practice around a particular sustainability theme we can also provide some further analysis. Please contact SWM on 0121 237 5890 or at for more information.


WMCA Bench Report Oct 2017 – Final

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