LGA Green Economic Recovery Webinar, 22nd February 2021 summary

View the summary information from this virtual event.


The LGA Webinar, Green Economic Recovery, was organised as part of the LGA’s Economic Growth improvement support offer. It explored some of the opportunities presented by green and sustainable initiatives for an economic recovery in the post pandemic period.

Over 200 people attended the webinar with four speakers presenting their thoughts and sharing examples on some of the work being delivered on a local level in areas such as inclusive growth, new green sustainable initiatives and collaborative working based on shared priorities across the public and private sector.

The session was chaired by Councillor Adele Morris, LGA Deputy Chair of the Environment, Economy, Housing and Transport Board, and Liberal Democrat Councillor at Southwark Council. Councillor Adele Morris began the webinar by outlining the opportunities presented by the increase in investment in a low carbon economy by central government in recent years in housing, renewable energy and employment for young people. These initiatives can potentially lead to a creation of 694000 jobs by 2030, rising to over 1.18 million by 2050. Local government has an opportunity to capitalise on these initiatives and deliver a green economic recovery in the post pandemic period.

Simon Eden, Director, Southern Policy Centre

Greenprint for South Hampshire was driven by conversations led by Southern Policy Centre with partners from local authorities and public sector organisations around what drives a green recovery. The partners suggested there were opportunities to develop a green recovery that would balance economic challenges against social and environmental factors.

Research was undertaken to identify opportunities for councils and other organisations across the region to collaborate based on shared objectives. Southern Policy Centre have begun to develop a framework which stemmed from conversations with partners to identify their key policy themes which were combined into 5 key principles. These are:

  • Net Zero with nature
  • Natural health service
  • World class blue/green environment
  • Creating great places through quality in design and build
  • Centre for excellence in green skills and jobs

In setting this framework it enables partners in south Hampshire to test their policies against this framework. The overarching aim is to deliver a green recovery centred on achieving a prosperous, resilient and environmentally aware society in the post pandemic era. This framework incorporates, partners from all sectors including local authorities, businesses and universities etc and provides a groundwork for collaboration and ensures that all partners are working towards the same outcome. There is an underlying recognition that all sectors will have a role to play in achieving a green recovery and creating a framework enables all sectors to identify opportunities to deliver against this framework.

Alex Rainbow, Carbon Neutral Cornwall Assessment Specialist & Emily Kent, Head of Economy, Skills & Culture, Economic Growth

Sustainable growth has been at the heart of Cornwall council’s objectives for several years and this will inform future policy/decision making in the post pandemic period. The council has developed a decision-making wheel based on the doughnut economic model to support this.

The doughnut economics model is underpinned by the understanding that resources are limited but there is a social foundation to meet people’s needs. This will include extracting from the natural resources of the earth to achieve this social foundation, but the aim should be to not exceed the ecological barrier.

The decision-making wheel is an adaptable tool which considers the uniqueness of each region.  The idea in developing this tool is to encourage council officers to look at the impact of any decision or project that they are undertaking from a range of different perspectives such as pollution, health, renewable energies and then score it according to the outputs form the tool. Council projects can be iterated based on the outputs from the tool which can highlight significant impacts in one area.

Whilst incorporating this model can be time intensive the benefits accrued can support councils achieve their long term sustainable economic growth targets. For example, embedding issues such as fuel poverty into the wheel, can help officers identify the long-term loss at the expense of short-term gain. Therefore, the long-term benefits of recognising the issues at an early stage of project inception, can save time and resources, in the future.

Paula Hewitt, 1st Vice President, ADEPT Deputy Chief Executive, Lead Director for Economic and Community Infrastructure & Director of Commissioning, Somerset County Council

Local government will have a key role to play in achieving a green economic recovery. ADPET developed a blueprint which combined economic growth/recovery with wider climate change strategic objectives. The blueprint called for a locally led green recovery which stemmed from conversations held at workshops and conversations with partners about overlapping policy ambitions. The Blueprint incorporated 5 immediate priorities:

  • Invest in low carbon and climate-resilient infrastructure
  • Support reskilling, retraining and research to accelerate the move to a net zero economy
  • Upgrade homes to ensure they are fit for the future
  • Make it easy for people to walk cycle and work remotely/flexibly
  • Accelerate tree planning, Peatland restoration, green spaces and other green infrastructure

There are several initiatives from central government which local authorities can capitalise on such as the Green Recovery challenge fund, green book review and Energy white paper etc. ADPET have joined EY in developing a report which calls for a locally led green recovery. A strength of local government lies in their understanding of regional challenges and opportunities. Local authorities can also utilise their community relationships to drive engagement create partnership working between communities and council representatives to achieve shared aims and policy targets. Local leaders should be empowered to make decisions to facilitate a green economic recovery.

Jacqueline Homan, Head of Environment, West Midlands Combined Authority & Claire Spencer, Senior Policy Adviser - Public Services & Inclusive Growth

Inclusive growth is underpinned by the principle that growth should be created and shared across the whole population and place. Focusing on the outcomes for people and place is a priority for an inclusive green recovery plan.

WMCM developed a decision-making toolkit to assist with their inclusive growth framework which tracks immediate priorities such as an inclusive economy and climate resilience against the long-term priorities of protecting future generations, locking in wealth, sharing power and universal design.  Their WM2041 climate change strategy was developed against this framework. One of the characteristics of the inclusive growth framework is that it recognises the uniqueness of each region. Therefore, it is important to establish Sustainable Development Goals that resonate with places and communities. For example, in the West Midlands there is a heavy reliance on industry and manufacturing, so there may be an opportunity to explore how to create a new green future for the region taking advantage of government initiatives and a rise in renewable energy and nuclear power stations. Employment forecast figures suggest there could be 21000 new jobs by 2026, and another 71000 by 2041 in the region. The 2041 plan has also been divided into 5-year plans to ensure investment is directed in the right places and maximise these opportunities. Although there are opportunities, there is a recognition that there is a risk some may miss out. There are government initiatives, but the timing needs to be accurate to provide opportunities to upskill and retrain the local workforce. Forecasting this impact through an inclusive growth framework can enable forward planning to mitigate against this impact to ensure it is an inclusive growth model for all.

Conclusions:

  • Collaborative working will be key in achieving a green recovery. All sectors, both public and private, will have a role to play.
  • Identifying shared values and objectives and developing frameworks and blueprints around these objectives can facilitate collaboration to achieve a shared outcome
  • Recognising the characterises of each region and the opportunities that they bring through their infrastructure, natural capital, industries can present opportunities which shape the recovery of the local economy
  • There are several initiatives from central government that can kickstart a green recovery which local government can capitalise on.
  • Through their expertise on the region, local government will have a key role to play in driving a locally led green economic recovery.
  • Incorporating green technology into economic recovery plans may increase costs in the short term but will lead to long term benefits to future societies.