Economy

Where does the recovery begin? Thoughts from Cynnal Cymru

Many have noted that, if there is any silver lining to the global Covid-19 pandemic, it has been the way it has legitimised the desire for a radical re-haul of Welsh society to better meet the needs of current and future generations. The invitations to share ideas and work towards a better future have come from citizens and government alike. As a membership organisation that exists to accelerate progress towards sustainable development, the opportunities to ‘build back better’ – and avert the impending climate and ecological catastrophes – are things that the Cynnal Cymru team has been thinking about for a long while. When asked to decide on our top actions for the green recovery, we prioritised the following for government, public bodies, anchor institutions, organisations and thought-leaders everywhere. As our last point emphasises, this list is not exhaustive and is designed to sit alongside the asks from other expert fora to ensure that the recovery is not just green but restorative and just.

1. Make the emergency real

We echo the calls of Extinction Rebellion for public bodies to ‘tell the truth’. The scale of the climate and nature emergencies is hard to comprehend even for those of us working in the sector. The Future Generations Report calls for Wales to be an eco-literate country. We endorse this, particularly as there is now extensive evidence that peer-education of Carbon Literacy results in tangible individual and organisational change. Cynnal is currently pioneering development of a similar Eco-literacy course designed to make the science behind both these emergencies understandable and relatable to everyday actions. It provides learners with the tools to identify and implement actions they can take to protect and enhance natural systems and the confidence to help others understand and feel motivated to do so also. However, this sense of literacy cannot come just from the bottom. It needs to be exemplified from the top so that citizens feel that their actions have been validated and there is a collective will and effort.

Government, public bodies and other leading actors need to be bold in reiterating the scale of these challenges and ensuring that every action and investment is viewed through a climate and ecological resilience lens. This requires frequent, clear and consistent communication on a par with – and with the same level of urgency as – Covid-19 messaging and visibility.

2. Define and measure progress

There are many demands to build back better and there is robust research from CAT and others that a shifting of investment towards the well-being economy will meet multiple goals. The Well-being of Future Generations Act and Welsh Government’s recent membership of the Well-Being Economy Governmental Alliance, together with movements such as Extinction Rebellion, Citizens Cymru and WCVA’s recent think-pieces, provide the political, legislative and ‘people’s’ mandate to do this. Frequent reference is made to Wales’s pioneering WFG Act but work on how we measure if we are actually delivering well-being better since 2015 seems to have stalled. The Carnegie Trust recently published a series of blog posts on Wellbeing around the World with several posts on effectively measuring improvements in Wellbeing.

There is an urgent need to bring the national Well-Being Indicators back into public prominence and to use the literature on effective measurement of Wellbeing to set Milestones against these so that the public has a clear sense of direction as to where Wales is heading and a mechanism by which politicians can be held accountable.

3. Enforce the conservation hierarchy

In line with point 1, we urge a radical re-education of public bodies and others as to the benefits of mature green infrastructure and designated sites and the redirection of resource towards protecting, restoring and maintaining what exists before creating new. This particularly applies to the messaging around Wales’s national forest. Progress reports and campaigns must not just focus on creation of the new, as there is a danger that this will suggest that mature tree loss and new tree planting is replacing like for like.

Progress reports that instead focus on protecting and enhancing our national forest therefore may be more effective in reinforcing understanding of the benefits that existing mature trees provide and the cost-savings that are lost when they are removed. Before approving removal of mature trees, decision-makers must factor in the costs of:

loss of immediate ecosystem services 

planting and maintenance of compensatory planting up and until the point where this planting provides an equivalent level of ecosystem services plus

the costs of reduced ecosystem services provided by new planting in the interim

This could be done by implementing the recommendations in the Woodland Trust Manifesto:

I-tree reports for every urban area, showing the full lifetime value and benefits of existing trees, especially mature trees.

Update and improve tree protection legislation as part of a new Welsh Planning Act.

Stop council planning committees allowing developers to remove healthy mature trees.

Strengthen planning regulatory oversight to protect green space and irreplaceable habitat such as ancient woodland and veteran trees 

This would also support the recommendation in the Future Generations 2020 Report that Welsh Government work with Public Services Boards to deliver 20% tree canopy cover in every town and city in Wales by 2030.

4. Build capacity of community organisations

A voluntary contribution of 1% of profits for the planet has been suggested for private businesses and is a growing global movement. This contribution need not be financial but could also be in pro bono support.

The Skyline Project aimed to demonstrate the viability of communities managing local assets e.g. NRW woodlands to generate an income. We contributed to that project. The same principle has come up during our management of the Sylfaen project – three of the six project beneficiaries are aiming to manage local green resources for the dual outcomes of biodiversity and profit. We have found that a core missing element in this concept is that communities lack the governance skills to set up and run a suitable vehicle.

Dwr Cymru have piloted the idea that corporations and private companies can contribute to their CSR outcomes by not just sending workers on litter picks etc. but by donating time of senior managers such as finance, HR and marketing to help communities set up Community Interest Companies, Co-operatives etc. that are robust, accountable and effective. When such vehicles exist, with ongoing support from responsible businesses, then they have a better chance of successfully managing local natural assets and it helps avoid burn-out of trustees or volunteers taking responsibility for high-level and very time-consuming decisions, on top of other responsibilities.

We are suggesting that there is a nationwide, systematic programme to link larger private companies with community initiatives with the specific goal of managing natural assets to generate income, skills and biodiversity.

This could be complemented by requirements in public sector contracts to allow staff up to 2 days/month of employer-supported volunteering and/or time to share insights and learning via Community of Practice mechanisms.

5. Promote shared responsibility

In line with the Polluter Pays principle, we suggest structured mechanisms by which those that minimise or negate pollution don’t pay. It is not always obvious how and where the costs of pollution are met e.g. in cleaning drinking water or cleaning up litter. If it is possible to identify areas of higher or lower pollution prevalence, can these areas be rewarded either with lower charges or a proportion of the cost-saving to be allocated as a community pot. This would require a structured programme by which ‘the offer’ is well-publicised to areas or communities and there is timely and transparent measuring and reporting.

We also recommend exploring non-monetary currencies here such as time-credits whereby those that formally or informally volunteer for the environment can have this contribution to cost-savings recognised e.g. through reductions in Council Tax, the option to donate an hour of an expert’s time to a chosen charity (linked to 4. above) or another mechanism. There concepts may sound challenging but there are many skilled individuals that could help devise suitable mechanisms – no one organisation, public body or government needs to figure this out alone.

6. Set the ambition for Wales to be known as the ‘country of green careers’

With rises in unemployment predicted, particularly among the young, there is an opportunity to implement career pathways and a skills and training framework for conservation managers, woodland rangers, and enforcement officers to ensure there is the capacity and expertise to build ecosystem resilience.

There is a growing proliferation of apps to engage the public as citizen scientists to manage invasive species, report environmental crime, record iconic wildlife etc. It is time to also build capacity within regulatory bodies, industry and the utility companies to capitalise on this interest and to benefit from the cost-savings that would be enabled.

An investment in green jobs and career paths will show commitment to tackling the next crisis (point 1) as well as contributing significantly to the prevention agenda and the green economy. The TUC has written more about the need to ensure any new ‘green’ jobs are also fair jobs in this recently published report ‘A green recovery and a just transition’.

7. Understand the ‘disconnect’

We are drawn to nature but the litter in beauty spots, camping detritus in woodlands and sensitive flora trampled by walkers or mountain bikers suggest that we do not (know how to) tread lightly. Understanding what is behind this tendency – to be drawn to nature but then not care about trashing it – could help to address it, perhaps using insights from the  Centre for Climate Change and Social Transformation  or other behaviour change expertise at other universities.

We also believe that our other suggestions – such as Eco-Literacy, the reframing of the natural environment as a credible, accessible future career prospect; and an increased presence of wardens, rangers, conservation managers etc – could lead to not only greater experience of nature but a cultural shift in thinking about how we value it.

8. Enable access

In line with a More Equal Wales, any strategy needs to ensure that there is equal access to the benefits that nature provides across our communities. We note the recent geospatial research by the University of Warwick, Newcastle University and the University of Sheffield suggesting that living within 300m of urban green space is associated with greater happiness, a sense of worth and life satisfaction, reiterated by the recommendation in the Future Generations report 2020 that there are standards to ensure people can access natural green space within 300 m of their home. Again this could link with the green jobs recovery for wardens, horticulturalists, local growers, natural play workers and therapists, social prescribing etc.

9. Cast a fresh eye on existing technology and innovation

In the search for new ideas, existing – and potentially scalable – innovations risk being overlooked. As CAT’s Zero Carbon Britain Report makes clear, ‘we already have the tools and technology needed to efficiently power the UK with 100% renewable energy, to feed ourselves sustainably and so to play our part in leaving a safe and habitable climate for our children and future generations.’

There is a wealth of information already within our institutions, networks and public bodies that may not be badged as a ‘sustainable and environmentally sound post-global pandemic recovery response’ but could nonetheless yield the same desired outcomes.

Examples of product innovation from Cynnal Cymru’s membership include BIPVCo’s thin-film solar cells or  BSB International’s Fire Dragon eco-friendly solid fuel – produced in Llanelli from 100% UK sourced ethanol. At the same time, we have many examples from members working in accordance with the ways of working in the Wellbeing of Future Generations Act, from Grasshopper Communications and its work to involve and engage communities to the housing associations coming together to accelerate decarbonisation of the social housing sector and the work of organisations like Dŵr Cymru and Wales and West Utilities to embody the stakeholder economy, for example with regard to vulnerable customers.

10. Create a more just society

Whilst a rapid transition to living within environmental limits and restoring healthy ecosystems will go a long way towards delivering sustainable development, we will only succeed if we also seek to recognise and integrate social and global justice. We know from our partners and members, and from our own work as the Living Wage accrediting body for Wales, that issues around social mobility, Fair Work, poverty and systemic discrimination also need to be addressed. This is as much a part of the ‘green’ as any other recovery package and links to other expert sectors, work programmes and strategies are essential to ensuring that our gains in one area are not undone by losses in another.

For several years now, the Sustainable Academy Awards have highlighted some of the most innovative projects and organisations in Wales accelerating progress towards a more sustainable future. The 2019 winners show that there are people in Wales that are already taking action to simultaneously tackle environmental issues and create a more just society

Next steps

We exist to accelerate progress on sustainable development in Wales so we are conscious that we need to back our words with action. Some of our next steps on the green recovery are:

Finishing the creation of an eco-literacy course and getting it out to consultation

Consulting with stakeholders about how to best measure progress and developing our advice

Linking the green recovery discussions to the Foundational Economy

Supporting decarbonisation of the social housing sector through the CLCC and involvement in Communities of Practice

Supporting the development of community led environmental organisations

Continuing to highlight the work of our members and Awards winners who are already ushering in the practical, intellectual, technological and cultural shifts for a sustainable green and just recovery.

Turning Loud Claps into Living Wages

This title is taken from Doctoral researcher at Leeds University Business School Calum Carson’s article for the JESP European Social Policy Blog ‘Turning Loud Claps into Living Wages: Tackling In-work Poverty within a Post-COVID-19 Landscape.’ It well portrays the Living Wage Foundation and its supporters’ desire to turn the nation’s gratitude for key workers that have been putting themselves at considerable risk to deliver essential goods and services during lockdown, into tangible actions and results, rather than relying on gestures.

As suggested in the article, we want to make sure that this recognition of caring and essential work and the injustice of wide spread low pay in these sectors to ‘remain in the forefront of public debate.’ Read about the Living Wage Foundation’s focus on key workers.

Social Care and the Real Living Wage

Those that work in the social care sector have long been on the Living Wage Foundation’s radar. The strains of COVID-19 on the sector and key workers becoming more visible than ever has only served to highlight their hard work, often for poverty pay. We are beginning to see enquiries from care homes about becoming accredited employers including an accreditation this month from Gwyddfor Residential. They have already proved to be active supporters of the Living Wage and care workers rights on social media and in their actions, and we hope that other care homes and establishments will be able to follow suit.

This petition for a Real Living Wage for key workers is an opportunity to go a step further than clapping and work towards meaningful rewards. You can also write to your MP to demand a Living Wage for care workers.

Bay Citizens Community Jobs Compact

The Bay Citizens’ Community Jobs Compact is a reciprocal agreement between the local community and the employer, co-produced by employers and communities together, and signed by major employers such as Ikea, ITV Wales, Careers Wales, and Welsh Parliament. It aims to combat such incidences by bringing local people and employers together to tackle poverty, unemployment and under-representation in the workforce.

The compact is an agreement with employers where signatories are obligated to accredit as a Living Wage employer, to recruit using name-blind and address-blind CVs and/or guarantee an interview to local residents who meet the criteria. Also, to introduce unconscious bias training for interviewers. The Compact will ensure all staff have the option of a permanent contract, and demonstrate opportunities for growth and development, for instance through internal career progression and mentoring.

If you are a Cardiff employer and would like to get involved, along with 15 other employers, that have signed the compact please get in touch with Ali.Abdi@citizenswales.org.uk for more information.

Cardiff Council: Work to Create a “Safer Cardiff’ City Centre Begins

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Cardiff Council is investigating how it can work with partners to create a ‘Safer Cardiff’ for both residents and workers travelling into the city centre once the current lockdown restrictions are lifted.

Plans for Castle Street in the city centre and a pilot scheme for Wellfield Road, in Roath, have already been announced with a traffic lane cleared on Castle Street for cyclists and pedestrians.

Now discussions are underway which could see roads, footways and public space on Queen Street, St Mary Street, The Hayes and Churchill Way remodelled as well as other major footfall areas in the city centre. The council is also looking at introducing specific measures to help support businesses, including making some of the public realm available to restaurants in the city centre whose floor space will be restricted by social distancing measures.

The council is working with For Cardiff, which represents businesses in the city centre, and Arup a recognised technical expert on redesigning cities. The plans will be designed to ensure the safety of the public and to help businesses get up and running during the recovery period.

Cardiff Council Leader, Cllr Huw Thomas, said: “We are all living in extraordinary times and as the council continues to respond to the current issues during this pandemic, we also have to plan on how we are going to recover from this crisis once the lockdown has been lifted.

“We now have to look at how we can re-model the public space in the city centre and implement effective plans to ensure that social distancing measures can be maintained for everyone’s safety. Not only that – we have to find ways of making the city a great place to visit again, despite any restrictions which may have to be imposed.

“Clearly lots of people will still have concerns when lockdown is lifted, so we want to make sure when people think about Cardiff they think ‘yes, I know it’s safe to visit, safe to shop, safe to do business and it’s safe for me and my family to be there.’ We will work with experts in the field, consulting with businesses and residents who live in the city centre. It’s this ‘One City’ approach, which will enable us to Restart, Recover and Renew Cardiff. I’m determined we won’t miss the opportunities that could arise from this. We all want a safer, greener, cleaner and healthier city, one which will be sustainable in the long term.

“All of this will cost money which is why we will begin discussions with Welsh Government on how it can be funded. Cardiff is the economic heartbeat of Wales. It can’t be left on life support. Our plans will need to be fully backed if we are to get the city up and running again for the benefit of everyone who lives and works here and in the city region.”

Arup will develop a strategy in partnership with the council and business to support the city centre’s recovery from the economic and well-being impacts of the Covid-19 pandemic.

The strategy will initially focus on ways to bring people back into the city and support the reopening of city-centre businesses, while enabling social distancing. Longer term, it will look at opportunities to improve access to high-quality open space, digital networks, air quality, resilient infrastructure, and active travel. District neighbourhoods will also be considered.

The concept for the immediate strategy is based around creating a welcoming city with space for pedestrians prioritised towards the centre. Welcome gateways will provide information, orientation and sanitisation areas. The measures used will be flexible to fit different business needs.

Long-term opportunities to improve the city centre experience are being considered to attract visitors and ensure the city’s resilience as it recovers from the economic impacts of the pandemic. The council will consult with city partners, residents, local councillors and staff but some options include creation of a loop of green public space around the city connecting existing public spaces; repurposed streets that prioritise pedestrians and cyclists, consolidated logistics, and servicing linked to enhanced digital infrastructure and monitoring.

Cabinet Member for Strategic Planning and Transport, Cllr Caro Wild added: “This involves detailed work, looking at how space can be allocated safely to ensure social distancing measures can be maintained for motorists, cyclists and most importantly pedestrians.

“There is no doubt that this will be a significant challenge, but we are keen to ensure that plans are in place to re-open the city centre when it is safe to do so. We will work with local councillors to ensure the views of local residents are heard throughout the process.”

Cllr Russell Goodway; Cabinet member for Investment and Development, said: “We have already begun conversations with city businesses. They want to be involved and they want to see Cardiff restored. The challenges we face in restarting and renewing the city’s economy will only be overcome by working together in partnership. I’m confident we will bring forward a strategy which will shape the way we think about cities in a post-COVID landscape. We can’t allow our city centres to be places people are afraid to visit. This is vitally important work and could see Cardiff leading the agenda nationally on how urban centre recover from the pandemic.”

Sophie Camburn, Director, Integrated City Planningfor Arup, said: “Our team has brought together a range of expertise to create a strategy that will help the council respond to challenges and opportunities as they prepare to begin the gradual process of reopening the city centre.

“We have looked at how Cardiff can use its civic pride, creative capacity and underlying assets to respond to immediate practical needs, medium-term tactical changes and strategic opportunities to make a better place in the long term.”

An initial report on the strategy will go to Cardiff Council’s Cabinet on June 11, 2020.[:]

Future Generations Commissioner urges Welsh Government to deliver on a green recovery budget

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● Carbon neutral housing and green jobs for people unemployed by pandemic are crucial to reset the economy and ‘build back better’
● Sophie Howe has outlined the five spending priorities Wales needs to be considering now – and calls for an urgent green stimulus package to help the country’s long-term recovery
● Government’s supplementary budget on Wednesday needs to signal investment that prioritises a better quality of life in the future

Green jobs for the unemployed and a multi-million pound package to decarbonise housing should be central to how Wales is reshaped in the aftermath of the coronavirus pandemic, says the Future Generations Commissioner. 

Sophie Howe says we have  a “once-in-a-generation opportunity” to reset Wales’ economy and is calling for  “visionary ideas and transformative investment” in the nation’s recovery plan. 

The commissioner has published a series of recommendations for Welsh Government as it announces its first Supplementary Budget, detailing how funding will be allocated during and after the crisis.  

The Welsh Government budget has increased by more than 10% for the current financial year – £2.4bn will be allocated to support Wales with its COVID-19 efforts. 

Ms Howe said: “The pandemic has brought incredible challenges, but how we recover gives us a once-in-a-generation opportunity. 

“The budget must signal a change in direction to reset our economy and remedy past failures with bold, collaborative, inclusive thinking and political courage. 

“It needs to address health, the economy and the ongoing climate and nature crises for the sake of Wales’ long-term future. We need a new definition of prosperity, based on well-being, and a fairer, greener way of living.” 

The commissioner, whose role is to protect future generations from the political actions of today, says in a paper that ministers must now show political courage with a focus on quality of life over GDP,  as the country begins the rebuilding process while restrictions remain in place to stem the spread of COVID-19. 

More investment in the low-carbon economy is crucial, and in the short-term, Ms Howe suggests those who have lost jobs and income in the pandemic could be reskilled and employed in the green economy. 

Among her recommendations is a multi-million pound stimulus package to support the decarbonisation of Wales’ housing stock – putting money into new low-carbon affordable housing and launching a national retrofitting programme to improve energy efficiency in existing homes. 

The benefits to people’s health, the environment, the jobs created and – crucially – Wales’ housing stock, would, says Ms Howe, far outweigh the estimated cost of more than £500m a year. 

As thousands remain working from home – taking pressure off transport networks and reducing carbon emissions – the commissioner wants investment to improve digital connectivity. 

Ms Howe applauded Welsh Government’s £25m commitment to fund transport improvements for pedestrians and cyclists by local authorities across Wales, and said it must form part of a long-term plan. 

It comes as moves to pedestrianise the centre of Bristol have been unveiled as part of its response to the COVID-19 crisis. The city is also engaging residents in planning new ways to use existing spaces – with emerging ideas including the pedestrianisation of entire dual carriageways. 

Elsewhere, Milan – one of the most congested cities in Europe – is transforming 35km of streets into ‘future zones’, where people can walk and cycle safely. 

Resources should also be shifted so Wales’ natural habitats can be restored, with green corridors linking the country and more investment in the new national forest being planted. 

Such thinking, says the commissioner will not only help wildlife, but can assist flood defences and the nation’s capability to face the challenges of climate change and create jobs. 

Ms Howe wants the Government to use the Well-being of Future Generations Act legislation along with her new Future Generations Report and  10-point plan for funding the climate emergency, in its response to the crisis. 

The Future Generations Report suggests Welsh Government works with public bodies to deliver 20% tree canopy cover in every town and city in Wales by 2030. 

Ms Howe said: “Our pre-Covid 19 economy prioritised economic growth, forced many people into poverty, and in turn created an unhealthy population that is particularly susceptible to global crises such as pandemics. 

“It’s vital that the budget addresses things we can’t afford to ignore – such as the current health crisis, the economic crisis the pandemic has triggered and the ongoing climate and nature crises. 

Wales has the opportunity to lead the way with visionary ideas and transformative investment, to a future based on well-being, using our unique Well-being of Future Generations Act as a framework. 

“I’m keen to work with partners and organisations to support Welsh Government in developing a response to the crisis which allows Wales to build back better.” 

 

The Future Generations Commissioner’s five recommendations… 

1.Develop an economic stimulus package that leads to job creation and supports the decarbonisation of homes, through building new low carbon affordable housing and investing in a national programme to improve the energy efficiency of existing homes. 

2.Invest in better ways to connect and move people through improving digital connectivity, active travel and public transport.

3. Invest in skills and training to support the transition to a better future, creating new greener jobs.

4.Invest in nature and prioritise funding and support for large-scale habitat and wildlife restoration, creation and connectivity throughout Wales –including for natural flood defences, to implement the new national forest, and to ensure land use management and agriculture supports secure local food chains and distribution.

5. Invest in the industries and technologies of the future, and support for businesses that will help Wales to lead the low carbon revolution and lock wealth and jobs into local areas with investment in the foundational economy. 

To read the full statement, visit the Future Generations Commissioner’s website.

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Mae tai carbon niwtral a swyddi gwyrdd i bobl sy’n ddiwaith yn sgil y pandemig yn hanfodol ar gyfer ailosod yr economi ac ‘adeiladu nôl yn well’.
● Mae Sophie Howe wedi amlinellu’r pum blaenoriaeth gwariant sydd angen i Gymru eu hystyried yn awr – ac yn galw am becyn ysgogi gwyrdd ar frys i helpu adferiad hirdymor y wlad.
● Mae angen i gyllideb atodol y llywodraeth ar ddydd Mercher nodi buddsoddiad sy’n blaenoriaethu gwell ansawdd bywyd yn y dyfodol.

Dylai swyddi gwyrdd i’r diwaith a phecyn gwerth miliynau o bunnoedd i ddatgarboneiddio tai fod yn ganolog i’r ffordd y mae Cymru’n cael ei hail-lunio yn dilyn pandemig coronafirws, meddai Comisiynydd Cenedlaethau’r Dyfodol. 

Dywed Sophie Howe fod gennym “gyfle sy’n digwydd unwaith mewn cenhedlaeth” i ailosod economi Cymru, ac mae’n galw am “syniadau gweledigaethol a buddsoddiad trawsnewidiol yng nghynllun adfer y genedl. 

Mae’r comisiynydd wedi cyhoeddi cyfres o argymhellion ar gyfer Llywodraeth Cymru wrth iddynt gyhoeddi eu Cyllideb Atodol gyntaf, sy’n rhoi manylion am y modd y bydd cyllid yn cael ei ddyrannu yn ystod ac ar ôl yr argyfwng. 

Mae cyllideb Llywodraeth Cymru wedi cynyddu o fwy na 10% ar gyfer y flwyddyn ariannol gyfredol – dyrennir £ 2.4bn i gynorthwyo Cymru gyda’i hymdrechion COVID-19. 

Dywedodd Ms Howe: “Mae’r pandemig wedi dod â heriau anhygoel, ond mae’r modd yr ydym yn ei oresgyn yn rhoi i ni ‘gyfle sy’n digwydd unwaith mewn cenhedlaeth. 

“Rhaid i’r gyllideb nodi newid cyfeiriad i ailosod ein heconomi a datrys methiannau’r gorffennol gyda meddwl beiddgar, cydweithredol, cynhwysol, a dewrder gwleidyddol. 

“Mae angen iddi fynd i’r afael ag iechyd, yr economi ac argyfyngau parhaus yr hinsawdd a natur er mwyn dyfodol hirdymor Cymru. Mae arnom angen diffiniad newydd o ffyniant, yn seiliedig ar lesiant, a ffordd decach, wyrddach o fyw”.  

Mewn papur a ysgrifennwyd gandddi dywed y comisiynydd yn ei rôl fel amddiffynnydd cenedlaethau’r dyfodol rhag gweithredoedd gwleidyddol heddiw, bod yn rhaid i weinidogion yn awr ddangos dewrder gwleidyddol gan ganolbwyntio mwy ar ansawdd bywyd na Chynnyrch Domestig Gros, wrth i’r wlad gychwyn ar y broses ailadeiladu tra bo cyfyngiadau yn parhau yn eu lle i atal lledaeniad COVID-19. 

Mae mwy o fuddsoddiad yn yr economi carbon isel yn hanfodol, ac yn y tymor byr, mae Ms Howe yn awgrymu y gallai’r rhai sydd wedi colli swyddi ac incwm yn ystod y pandemig gael eu hailsgilio a’u cyflogi yn yr economi gwyrdd. 

Ymhlith ei hargymhellion mae’n nodi pecyn ysgogi gwerth miliynau o bunnoedd i gynorthwyo datgarboneiddio stoc dai Cymru – gan ariannu tai fforddiadwy carbon isel newydd a lansio rhaglen ôl-osod genedlaethol i wella effeithlonrwydd ynni mewn cartrefi presennol. 

Byddai’r manteision i iechyd pobl, yr amgylchedd, y swyddi sy’n cael eu creu ac – yn hollbwysig – stoc dai Cymru, meddai Ms Howe, yn gorbwyso’r gost amcangyfrifedig o fwy na £ 500m y flwyddyn. 

Wrth i filoedd barhau i weithio gartref – gan leihau’r pwysau ar rwydweithiau trafnidiaeth a lleihau allyriadau carbon – mae’r comisiynydd eisiau buddsoddiad ar gyfer gwella cysylltedd digidol. 

Cymeradwyodd Ms Howe ymrwymiad £ 25m Llywodraeth Cymru i ariannu gwelliannau trafnidiaeth i gerddwyr a beicwyr gan awdurdodau lleol ledled Cymru, a dywedodd fod yn rhaid i hyn fod yn rhan o gynllun hirdymor.  

Fe ddaw wrth i symudiadau i bedestreiddio canol Bryste gael eu datgelu fel rhan o’u hymateb i argyfwng COVID-19. Mae’r ddinas hefyd yn ennyn diddordeb preswylwyr wrth gynllunio ffyrdd newydd o ddefnyddio lleoedd sy’n bodoli eisoes – gyda syniadau sy’n dod i’r amlwg yn cynnwys pedestreiddio ffyrdd cerbydau deuol cyfan. 

Mewn mannau eraill, mae Milan – un o’r dinasoedd â’r mwyaf o dagfeydd yn Ewrop – yn trawsnewid 35km o strydoedd yn ‘barthau’r dyfodol’, lle gall pobl gerdded a beicio’n ddiogel.  

Dylid symud adnoddau hefyd fel y gellir adfer cynefinoedd naturiol Cymru, gyda choridorau gwyrdd yn cysylltu’r wlad a mwy o fuddsoddi mewn plannu’r goedwig genedlaethol newydd.  

Bydd meddwl yn y modd hwn, medd y comisiynydd, nid yn unig yn helpu bywyd gwyllt, ond yn atgyfnerthu amddiffynfeydd llifogydd a gallu’r genedl i wynebu heriau’r newid yn yr hinsawdd a chreu swyddi. 

Mae Ms Howe eisiau i’r Llywodraeth, yn eu hymateb i’r argyfwng, ddefnyddio deddfwriaeth y Ddeddf Llesiant Cenedlaethau’r Dyfodol ynghyd â’i Hadroddiad Cenedlaethau’r Dyfodol newydd a’i chynllun deg pwynt ar gyfer ariannu’r argyfwng hinsawdd 

Mae’r Adroddiad Cenedlaethau’r Dyfodol yn awgrymu bod Llywodraeth Cymru’n gweithio gyda chyrff cyhoeddus i gyflawni 20% o orchudd canopi coed ym mhob tref a dinas yng Nghymru erbyn 2030. 

Dywedodd Ms Howe: Roedd ein heconomi cyn COVID-19 yn blaenoriaethu twf economaidd gan orfodi llawer o bobl i dlodi, a arweiniodd yn ei dro at boblogaeth afiach sy’n arbennig o agored i argyfwng fel pandemig.  

Mae’n hollbwysig bod ein cyllideb yn mynd i’r afael â phethau na fedrwn fforddio eu hanwybyddu – megis yr argyfwng iechyd presennol, yr argyfwng economaidd a sbardunwyd gan y pandemig ac argyfwng parhaus yr hinsawdd a natur. 

Rwy’n awyddus i weithio gyda phartneriaid a sefydliadau i gynorthwyo Llywodraeth Cymru i ddatblygu ymateb i’r argyfwng a fydd yn caniatáu i Gymru ‘adeiladu nôl yn well’. 

 

Pum argymhelliad Comisiynydd Cenedlaethau’r Dyfodol… 

  1. Datblygu pecyn ysgogi economaidd sy’n arwain at greu swyddi ac sy’n cynorthwyo datgarboneiddio cartrefi, drwy adeiladu tai newydd carbon isel fforddiadwy a buddsoddi mewn rhaglen genedlaethol i wella effeithlonrwydd ynni cartrefi presennol.
  2. Buddsoddi mewn gwell dulliau o gysylltu a symud pobl, drwy wella cysylltedd digidol, teithio llesol a thrafnidiaeth gyhoeddus.
  3. Buddsoddi mewn sgiliau a hyfforddiant i gynorthwyo’r trawsnewid i well dyfodol, gan greu swyddi newydd gwyrddach. 
  4. Buddsoddi mewn natur a rhoi blaenoriaeth i ariannu a chymorth graddfa fawr i adferiad cynefinoedd a bywyd gwyllt, creu a chysylltedd ledled Gymru – yn cynnwys ar gyfer amddiffynfeydd llifogydd naturiol, gweithredu’r goedwig genedlaethol newydd a sicrhau bod rheoli defnydd tir ac amaeth yn cynorthwyo sicrhad cadwyni bwyd lleol a dosbarthu. 
  5. Buddsoddi yn niwydiannau a thechnolegau’r dyfodol, a chynorthwyo busnesau, a fydd yn helpu Cymru i arwain y chwyldro carbon isel a chloi cyfoeth a swyddi mewn ardaloedd lleol gyda buddsoddiad yn yr economi sylfaenol. 

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Future of Digital Engagement – Keeping the Conversation Going During the Lockdown and Beyond

[:en]As a result of the lockdown, we’re all stuck at home – many of us glued to our various digital devices.  For most of us, never before have we learnt to use so many new digital tools in such a short space of time.  The social isolating measures have even turned those of us (and I speak for myself here) who have previously been digital Luddites into semi-pros.  Although I’m not going out, I’ve had some great parties linking up with friends from all corners of the world.

In the past, we may have been reticent to turn to digital forms of engagement.  But now with the very quick upskilling of many in the community, is this the opportunity to effectively engage with a wider demographic digitally?

At Grasshopper Communications over the last month, we have been exploring the full range of digital engagement tools now available and how to build these into our wider campaigns, including online meetings, super surveys and virtual exhibitions.

To broaden out this dialogue and hear the experience of others, we recently hosted the ‘virtual’ Cynnal Cymru Coffee Club on the Future of Digital Engagement discussing the importance of keeping the conversation going during the lockdown, as well as exploring whether this will change the way we engage in the future.

From our involvement in the regeneration and development sector, we feel it is vital that community consultations should be able to continue (with a digital focus) to enable essential new homes and infrastructure to be built and to support the economic recovery. With this in mind, the Welsh Government has issued guidance to enable Local Planning Authorities (LPA’s) to hold Planning Committees remotely and the Royal Town Planning Institute’s recent interview with the Head of Planning in Wales demonstrates that planning services are continuing.  The Welsh Government is still reviewing the situation regarding pre-application consultation requirements.

The development sector has raised concerns around public engagement during COVID-19, particularly regarding potential negative PR and reputational implications if perceived to have limited empathy or respect for communities during the crisis.

The Cynnal Cymru discussion highlighted some innovative digital engagement case studies that have already been put into action since lockdown.  For example, Icreate, provider of CGIs and 3D flythrough animations, showcased their virtual online experience of Brentford Football Stadium.  Similarly, Arup has been using its own Virtual Engage Digital exhibition platform which allows the public to access information, view maps and drawings, watch flythroughs and share feedback.

Sustrans are equally adopting digital tools for planning active travel.  Their online community mapping toolkit allows anyone to identify perceived barriers to walking and cycling within a study area and add new routes.

Commonplace, an online engagement platform is responding to the COVID-19 emergency by offering their platform to Local Authorities and community groups to act as a central point where community views can be collected.

The issue of engagement for housing associations was discussed, and how many residents are now getting their information in different ways, with many turning to social media forums for example.  The challenge of engaging with older residents, such as those living in sheltered accommodation, was also raised as a key challenge, but one that had also presented many opportunities for the future, such as enabling access to food orders and services online.

Those ‘virtually’ attending felt that there were significant opportunities to capitalise on the benefits of the lockdown with many turning to virtual staff and client meetings, resulting in significant cost as well as carbon savings.  This surely raised many questions about the future of how we work.

The overriding opinion was that the current situation offered a chance to do things differently, with the potential of using innovative digital engagement tools in addition to traditional tools such as paper newsletters delivered to people’s homes.  In the short-term, whilst there may community sensitivities and PR challenges to consider and address during the lockdown, it was felt it is important to keep the conversation going to aid the economic recovery. If you would like to join in the debate about digital engagement, join the Digital Community Engagement group on LinkedIn.

 


 

This article has been written by Hannah Dineen, Associate Director at Grasshopper Communications as part of our weekly Cynnal Coffee Club conversations, to share learning and explore positive actions we can take forward to ensure a more resilient and sustainable future.[:]

Cynnal Cymru Update: Adapting to a New ‘Normal’

[:en]As we all adjust and adapt to a new ‘normal’, we wanted to give you an update on our plans for the coming months.

Among the challenges faced by so many at the moment, we are seeing reasons to be hopeful about the future. Precedents are being set as organisations adapt to new ways of working and members of our network are reaching out to each other to offer innovative support and help.

As things are changing rapidly, we will be sharing more regular ‘mini’ updates, in addition to our monthly newsletter, to keep you inspired and informed on the latest sustainability news, views and opportunities. You can sign up here for our free newsletter.

We are exploring new ways we can bring our networking, training and events online to continue sharing learning, challenging thinking and mobilising action.  For example, we are prioritising the creation of digital training on Carbon Literacy for housing associations, local authorities and businesses.

Next week, we are introducing a new weekly Cynnal Coffee Club to provide a shared space to capture learning and spark ideas for a more resilient Wales.

For Members, we will be setting up virtual networking, so we can continue to bring people together to share ideas and opportunities.

We’re also heartened to see so many inspiring initiatives springing up in our communities; supported by the generosity of individuals and organisations, so please let us know what is happening in your community and we will share as much as possible.

Thank you for your continued support and stay strong.

Sarah, Lynsey, Rhodri, Clare & Lois
Rainbow artwork provided by our temporary new co-worker Isla (7)
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Foundational Economy Community of Practice

During 2020-21, Cynnal Cymru has supported a community of practice for organisations receiving funding from the Welsh Government’s Foundational Economy Challenge Fund. Its aim is to share learning and innovation, build relationships and encourage collaboration.

The Challenge Fund aimed to support projects looking to try out new ways to address challenges – some emerging, some age-old – faced by foundational economy businesses or those relying on their services.

These included:

  • the recruitment, retention and skills of the workforce
  • the delivery structures and design of services
  • the recruitment, retention and skills of the workforce
  • the delivery structures and design of services

The aim was to explore a range of solutions that could potentially generate viable, adaptable models that could be scaled up and spread to strengthen local economies and community wealth-building.

Staring in 2019 with an initial 52 projects, it was always expected that some experiments would not succeed and conditions were made even more challenging by the impact of the pandemic.

A community of practice was also however put in place to help capture some of the rich learning and insights generated by all the projects taking part. The examples in the Case studies section of this site  give a flavour of the projects supported by the Fund – their successes, challenges and above all learning, about how best the foundational economy in their area or sector can be supported.

£21m for air quality improvements in Cardiff after Minister approves final plan

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Environment Minister, Lesley Griffiths has awarded Cardiff Council £21m to implement a series of measures to improve air quality after she approved its revised clean air proposals.

In February 2018, the Welsh Government instructed Cardiff Council to undertake a feasibility study to identify measures to address illegal nitrogen dioxide exceedances in the shortest possible time.

In June 2019, Cardiff Council submitted its final Plan. It proposed a package of measures including:

– a bus retrofitting programme to lower emissions,
– taxi mitigation measures,
– city centre transport improvements and;
– an active travel package making it easier for people to walk and cycle in the city centre.
– An Independent Review Panel, appointed by the Welsh Government, assessed the Plan and recommended it be accepted, albeit with a number of caveats.

Cardiff Council was asked to provide further clarity their identified package of measures was the route most likely to achieve compliance in the soonest time possible. This included a request for further evidence to justify why a charging Clean Air Zone was not a suitable option.

After full consideration and advice from the Independent Review Panel, the Minister has accepted the revised final plan. The Minister confirmed she is content Cardiff’s preferred option of non-charging measures is likely to achieve the legal requirement and deliver a marked and sustained reduction in emissions. The scheme will also provide further benefits more widely across the city centre.

Following approval of the Plan the Welsh Government will award Cardiff Council £21m to implement the air quality improvement measures included in it.

The Minister for Environment, Energy and Rural Affairs, Lesley Griffiths said:

“Improving air quality across Wales is a Welsh Government priority. I am grateful to Cardiff Council for all of the work they have undertaken during this process and their clear commitment and dedication to delivering a solution to support air quality benefits for the city.

“We will shortly confirm a funding award to meet the costs of the preferred option, and will continue to work closely with Cardiff Council on the programme of activity to ensure urgent compliance with nitrogen dioxide limit values”.

Cardiff County Cllr Caro Wild, Cabinet Member for Strategic Planning and Transport, added:

“This is very welcome news indeed and will enable us to get to work improving air quality in the city centre, especially around Castle Street, which surveys show was most likely to breach EU pollution limits by 2021. Everyone living, working and visiting Cardiff has the right to breathe in clean air and this grant will allow us to put in place measures which will reduce pollution.

“Our team has worked hand in glove with Welsh Government to arrive at solutions we know will work quickly here in Cardiff. I want to thank Welsh Government for their input, it shows what can be done when cities and government work closely together to benefit citizens. We have stolen a march on most other major regional cities who are still developing their clean air plans.

“Air pollution on Castle Street is the symptom of a wider problem which extends far beyond this stretch of road. We may be within legal limits across the city, but the cleaner we can make the air the better it will be for everyone. Next week we will publish a 10-year vision for transport which will build on this announcement, delivering a greener city for residents and future generations.”[:]

RenewableUK Cymru welcomes EDF Renewables plans for 110MW windfarm

[:en]RenewableUK Cymru has welcomed EDF Renewables announcement of a plans to develop a wind farm called Garn Fach, south of Newtown, Powys, in partnership with 14 local farming families.

The project is likely to consist of up to 22 turbines, each producing around 5 MW. That’s 110MW capable of generating enough low carbon electricity for the domestic needs of 66,000 households*. Ahead of submitting a planning application for the wind farm at the end of 2020, EDF R has been carrying out ecological and other feasibility surveys.

Today (Thursday 9th January), EDF R is submitting an environmental scoping report to the Welsh Government and an application to Powys County Council to erect a met mast on site to gather accurate wind speed data. EDF R is committed to an annual community benefit fund for Garn Fach of £5,000 per MW, which could be around £550,000 (depending on the final capacity of the project) per year available for local causes, or £16.5 million over the 30-year lifetime of the project.

The wind farm will also have the potential for local ownership, with opportunities for local people and organisations to invest and have a stake in the project.

RenewableUK Cymru Head Rhys Wyn Jones said “It’s great to see plans announced for a project that could make a vital contribution to meeting carbon emission reduction and renewable power targets in Wales, with all the economic benefits investment that onshore wind brings to local economies as well as consumers. We’re seeing new market opportunities to bring forward onshore wind projects at different scales but to meet our net zero emissions target at lowest cost, we need to see the new UK Government set an energy strategy which supports onshore wind. New projects must be allowed to compete for UK Government-backed contracts to generate power and we need to update our planning rules so that we can use the latest technology and replace older wind farms with new turbines.  Welsh Government also has a vital role to play in ensuring the planning regime underpinning larger renewable energy developments is fit for a new decade”.

* Load factors based on the five-year rolling averages on unchanged configuration basis using Table 6.5 of ‘Digest of UK Energy Statistics’ – latest figures as per July 2019 release[:]

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