Continual Development as Carbon Literacy Partner in Wales

September saw us running an introductory session attended by colleagues from Acuity Legal, Dŵr Cymru, Coleg Y Cymoedd and H Factor. This was an open session to anybody interested in the training and we will be holding another session like this in October – if you are interested in attending, please get in touch with Rhodri. The session will last a full day and you will be able to get your Carbon Literacy certificate from this providing that learning takes place and you are able to complete the task.

For one week in October we will be delivering the course in North and South Wales for the Social Farms and Gardens Network and for Community Housing Cymru members.

Carbon Literacy Fun Facts

Over 1000 professionals from the independent television sector have now done Carbon Literacy training and many more UK TV programmes and dramas are certified by the BAFTA “Albert” carbon accounting and environmental management standard as a low carbon culture spreads through the sector.

8000 plus citizens across England, Wales, and Scotland have been certified Carbon Literate with an estimated 5-15% carbon savings per person linked to the actions committed to.

Welsh civil society launch open government manifesto

[:en]Guest blog from Jess Blair from the Electoral Reform Society, as part of the Open Government Network in Wales, led by ERS Cymru, WCVA and Cynnal Cymru.


If you could get Welsh Government to do one thing to be more transparent or engaging, what would it be? Especially if you knew the government had to listen and respond?

That was the premise of a recent consultation we did as part of the Open Government Network for Wales.

Open Government is a rather new concept for civil society in Wales, but it’s actually a worldwide phenomenon where governments across the globe commit to improving accountability, transparency and participation in their countries – and work with civil society to put those ideas into action. The idea is to break down barriers which exist between politicians and those they represent.

This has led to some genuinely game-changing policies across the world; innovative budgeting methods used in Madrid and Portugal which sees communities vote on how budgets are spent, a ‘tripadviser’ model for reviewing public services in Mongolia where people can rate their local hospital, and a platform to crowdsource data on homelessness in Austin,Texas. These policies have made a real difference to people’s lives in these areas.

The Welsh Government now have the opportunity to do the same. This year will see the publication of their new action plan on Open Government. This is only the second time it’s happened in Wales – and the first which has truly engaged civil society.

The Open Government Network in Wales, led by ERS Cymru, WCVA and Cynnal Cymru, has been gathering ideas in preparation, ready to pitch these to government in the hope that they can make up part of their final commitments.

We gathered the ideas through a workshop and an online ‘Discuto’ platform where people could offer their own suggestions. Through these wide-ranging suggestions we pulled together a civil society manifesto, which hopes to set the gold standard in transparency.

Our proposals span from making the Welsh Government’s website clearer and more accessible, to the introduction of budgeting methods that involve people in communities, to making the procurement process in Wales more transparent.

All this stems from a crucial fact: Wales has a serious democratic deficit, with comparatively few of us really engaging with public life here beyond showing up to vote in elections.

And when it comes to elections we have nothing to boast about. Just over 45% of registered voters turned out in the 2016 Assembly elections. In last year’s local government election this figure only just topped 41%.

Part of this deficit comes from a lack of understanding and engagement in the decisions made in Wales – and government can take measures to improve this. Major steps forward in the areas we’ve highlighted will go some way to reducing Wales’ democratic issues.

Take for example one of our calls: that Welsh Government produces documents in a wider range of formats – including images and infographics – and worked with different platforms to ensure they reached a wider range of audiences. This sounds relatively simple, but genuinely could make a big difference.

If consultations were made to be more engaging using these methods and were sent to a wider range of people on the media platforms that they actually use, perhaps more people would have their voices heard and policy decisions would better represent our society as a whole and what they’d like to happen.

Another of the key areas we’ve highlighted in the manifesto is the area of participatory budgeting (PB). The words mean little on their own (in fact, I’ve been in many high level meetings where none of us can actually pronounce them), but in practice PB is a tool that gives people in communities a real say on decisions that affect them and their area.

In short, we’d all have a say in where money is spent in Wales. There are lots of models around PB. Perhaps the most famous is Decide Madrid where every year residents vote on how €100m is spent. If your local authority had to make a decision around whether your local roads, schools, or waste services received additional funding that year, wouldn’t you want a say?

The proposals contained within our manifesto are the first united attempt from Welsh civil society to help open up democracy.

We hope that the Welsh Government takes them seriously. This is a significant opportunity for Wales and could genuinely begin a step change for the way government here works for the benefit of all of us.

You can read the Welsh Open Government Networks Civil Society Manifesto here. To get involved in the Network sign up to the Open Government forum here.[:]

Will ultra-low emission vehicles be part of your business?

[:en]Simple answer – yes – if they aren’t already. Welsh businesses should be aware that there is significant pressure on local and national government to do something about air quality. Add to this the slow but inevitable rise in costs of oil and the rapidly reducing costs of electric and you have a business dilemma – when to jump from the sinking fossil fuel ship onto…. what? Hydrogen powered? All electric? Some sort of hybrid?

It’s tricky which is why we are gathering people for a conversation on Car Futures Wales on the 15th February at 17.00 in the Arup Offices Cardiff Bay. BBC Broadcaster Mark Goodier was one of the first people in the UK to drive an electric car and is a keen advocate of the technology. He will be in conversation with Tim Armitage, Arup’s project director of Autodrive, the UK’s first on-road trial of connected and autonomous vehicles.

Mark works with Drive Electric who are the leading provider of electric lease vehicles. Some experts argue that car ownership, as well as they technology that powers them, is set to change in a big way. The pricing mechanisms that may arise in response to congested roads and poor air quality might mean that owning a depreciating lump of metal just doesn’t make sense any more. The car, like the home video, will be claimed by the “service not product” business model.

Tim Armitage will argue that an additional factor in bringing about change will be the advent of driverless technology. Here the service even includes the act of driving. You want to get from A to B in a fast comfortable (and relatively safe) way right? Well do you need to drive then if AI on wheels can do it for you?

Of course there will be some people who just love that physical connection between, senses-mind-hands-road and for them there will always be models available with steering wheels and accelerator pedals. They may even give you a fake Maserati roar.

But for a serious business person looking at margins, predicting trends and future markets, then the reality of ultra-low emission and autonomous vehicles has to be faced.

Join Cynnal Cymru and the experts in conversation on the 15th Feb at Car Futures Wales.[:]

Innovation in Sustainable Procurement – Common Sense, Collaboration and Circular Thinking

[:en]In association with Orangebox

Last Thursday Cynnal Cymru held a shared learning event in Bridgend College looking at sustainable procurement. The event had come together following informal discussions with a few of our members about the importance of procurement in ensuring a responsible and sustainable business. The supply chain is where most of the risks, challenges and opportunities lie for any organisation that aims to achieve success through responsible practice. The Well-being of Future Generations Act is already influencing the way that public bodies procure goods and services and some of the most innovative businesses and social enterprises are following suit. Cynnal Cymru aims to showcase best practice in business in all aspects of sustainable development and provide a network where organisations can learn from each other and support each other in their goals. This event brought together some of our most active and passionate members and was hosted by one of our long standing members Bridgend College and sponsored by one of our newer Premium Members Orangebox to talk about what they are doing to ensure a more sustainable supply chain.

Orangebox – Shifting to a Circular Economy Model

Gareth Banks from Orangebox was the first speaker at the event. Orangebox are one of the world’s biggest office furniture producers and suppliers with their factories and designers based here in South Wales and a showroom in London. Products manufactured in Hengoed and Nantgarw are being shipped to their clients such as HSBC all across the UK, Europe and even to the USA. Orangebox has a huge supply chain worth £25 million a year and over 1000 suppliers. Central to Orangebox’s ethos however is the idea of localisation – with 45% of everything purchased here in Wales, 25% in the rest of the UK and the other 25% that can’t be sourced here comes from Europe or further afield. Orangebox understands that localisation is not only good for their local economy and reduces their environmental impact but makes their business more agile, ensures that their products can get to market quickly as well as the fact they can deal mostly in the pound. Localisation also means they can be surer of the quality of materials being provided and the conditions in which their products are produced.

To Orangebox – localisation is just common sense; what they see as more innovative, is their commitment to the circular economy. Orangebox are committed to making products that last, with the aim of reducing the energy and water used to make a product and only using the resources that are needed. As an example, their new Eva chair is designed to last much longer than a cheaper chair and in the long run save on energy and resources. They are also exploring the concept of remanufacturing which can be a longer and more complicated process but is doable. Working with partners such as the Ministry of Furniture, old furniture is sourced from clients and remanufactured to look and work to the same standards as new and sold on to new clients. The Well-being of Future Generations Act is encouraging the public sector in Wales to look at new ways of doing things in a more environmentally friendly way and therefore is developing a new market for remanufacturing. Remanufacturing products saves 60% of the CO2 and 75% of the water that would otherwise have been used to make new products. Eva, the task chair, is their first product in the Orangebox Remade range, which has been designed to be remanufactured as all the components of the chair can be taken apart and replaced or fixed to make another chair as good as new. This is the beginning but Orangebox believes it will become a much bigger aspect of their business. Working with their local supply chain can help make this happen.


Melin Homes – Sustainable Procurement with Added Value

Trish Hoddinott from Melin Homes was the second speaker of the day who shared with the group some of the brilliant services and initiatives run by Melin Homes which has over 250 staff and 4000 houses and do so much to support their residents. Melin Homes has a sustainability team of four, headed up by Trish which has recently taken on responsibility for co-ordinating procurement activities across the large organisation. In the past, individual small teams within Melin Homes procured things themselves but as the organisation grew there was a lack of co-ordinated activity with contracts being provided to numerous different organisations which provided varying levels of quality and support. What became clear was that some teams had a clearer understanding of sustainability criteria (such as Health and Safety, Living Wage and community benefits) while others were not. The Sustainable Procurement team decided to standardise the procurement process to get the most from their contractors. The process requires a department to fill out a simple business case form if they want to tender for a contract. The sustainable procurement team then bring relevant people in the organisation together in a short meeting to identify whether the work could be done in-house and whether extra value for their residents, the community and environment could come from this tender.

This system supports reporting through the “Value Wales Toolkit” which aims to demonstrate Melin’s contribution to the Welsh economy. The system also enables the sustainable procurement team to identify the companies that provide added value through, for example, work experience for residents or time supporting a community project. These companies then set the standard which others must meet in order to work with/for Melin. A potential consequence is that all future contractors will pay the Living Wage. Trish leads the Sustainability Team in Melin Homes and was a finalist in the Sustain Wales Awards 2017 for Sustainability Champion. The work on sustainable procurement is just one of her projects.


Public Health Wales – Applying the principles of the Well-being Act to the Procurement Process


Public Health Wales told us about the initiative they took to procure differently when a large amount of staff had to move to new offices. Public Health Wales have around 1700 staff in ten buildings across Cardiff. The move to the new building in Capital Quarter in the centre of Cardiff affected 550 staff. The organisation is funded through public money so it was important that the move delivered value and followed legislation on how the money was spent. There was a £400,000 budget with clear aims to avoid waste, reduce the environmental impact, use local welsh businesses and gain social benefits while ensuring that the office space was modern, sustainable, airy and fit for purpose. Despite there already being procurement guidelines and process in place through the national procurement framework the options currently available did not fit with the new offices aim of being sustainable and following the principles of the Well-being of Future Generations Act.  To encourage innovation in the procurement process, a supplier engagement day was held and the standards required were explained to potential contractors. The procurement process took six months and the tender was finally provided to a consortium of suppliers including Greenstream Flooring and Orangebox.

Orangebox were able to source office furniture that was destined for landfill from another client. These items were repaired and modernised. The social enterprise Greenstream Flooring  which employs and trains disabled and disadvantaged individuals, was chosen to supply the recycled carpet tiles for the new offices to help reduce waste and ensure social benefits came from the process. Wrap Cymru undertook a case study of the project and discovered that using this consortium saved 134 tonnes of CO2 and prevented 41 tonnes of waste going to landfill. It has also provided social benefits to individuals working for Greenstream Flooring who have gained permanent employment through the success of the process which has raised the profile of the social enterprise. The project was completed this year and Public Health Wales have since won a number of national awards. The team involved in the tender are now supporting other staff across Wales to follow suit and inspiring other organisations.



Ed Evans from CECA Wales summed up and concluded that all three speakers had illustrated the importance of engaging with staff and employees within the organisation and the supply chain to be able to deliver more innovative, sustainable and sensible projects. Current systems do not seem to meet the new desire for organisations and people to be more innovative and support local businesses. Delegates at the event discussed how the public sector are encouraged to use the National Procurement Framework which while it promotes value for money, small SME’s are alienated and innovation which benefits society is not rewarded. There is a need for dynamic leaders in organisations to take the first step to challenge the norm and encourage innovation to produce more sustainable supply chains. The Well-being of Future Generations Act will hopefully inspire others to follow Public Health Wales’s lead and encourage the use of local organisations which are doing good for society and the environment. A cultural shift is very much needed both in the public sector working closely with the private sector.

As with all Cynnal Cymru events there was time for networking and discussion between our members and delegates interested in the topic. It is clear that this is a huge topic and the conversation will continue to help foster improvement throughout Wales. A follow up event will be held later in the year or in 2018 to continue the discussion around innovation in sustainable procurement.[:]

How do you measure the progress of a nation?

The plan, now out for consultation, outlines how 40 national indicators will help the Welsh Government measure the nation in areas such as health, environment, education and the economy.

Indicators, which will help Wales as a whole achieve the ambitious goals set out in the Well-being of Future Generations (Wales) Act, include:

  • Healthy life expectancy for all
  • School leavers with skills and qualifications
  • People in work
  • Quality of housing
  • People using Welsh Language in everyday life; and
  • Air quality

A report will be published every year showing what progress has been made across Wales in achieving the seven well-being goals in the Act, using the national indicators.

The First Minister said:

“People’s education, quality of life and the general environment in which they live are crucial for a nation’s prosperity – but how do you measure these things?

“Today we are launching a major consultation to get people’s views on what our national indicators should be. To put it simply, how do we, as a government measure a nation.

“This is a fantastic opportunity for public bodies, individuals and organisations to have their say on how we continue to develop and build the Wales we want.  The Well-being of Future Generations Act places a duty on us all to work together to ensure that decisions taken today are made with future generations at their heart.

“Under the Act, the National Indicators have to relate to the well-being of everyone in Wales, from the individual, to communities, across government to the wider public sector and business. They are not solely about government’s aims or achievements, but are aimed at giving a much more rounded picture of progress for the nation as a whole[:]

Can We Engineer Our Way to a Sustainable Future?

Our Training Manager Rhodri Thomas was recently invited to give a talk to the Chartered Institution of Civil Engineers. He tilted the lecture “Can We Engineer Our Way to a Sustainable Future?” and use it to explore the tensions between what society needs, what it thinks it needs, the environmental limits to meeting these needs and how industry, science and technology is responding. He drew on his own learning journey from being a graduate and researcher in systems ecology to his present role of helping organisations make sense of the principles of sustainable development in their specific context. The crucial link he suggested was the way that energy transitions through systems: natural and sustainably designed systems such as those developed by Permaculture re-circulate energy while traditional engineered systems exploit a linear one-way flow of energy that is permanently lost to the system once the useful work has been done. He cited examples of modern design and engineering which used energy in a more organic way and blurred the boundaries between engineered and ecological systems. He concluded by echoing the late Dr. Steve Harris of the University of Glamorgan and the Schumacher Institute who believed that science and technology, if used responsibly, had a limitless capacity to deliver sustainable prosperity and social justice and should be elevated in the public and political mind as the means by which a sustainable future can be secured.

His talk was followed by a reflective discussion in which the engineering professionals in the audience recalled how their industry has embraced ecological concepts in recent decades. Civil engineering firms are now multi-disciplinary and many in the audience had a life sciences background. While all accepted that engineers have enormous capacity to invent sustainable solutions and employ technology in harmony with nature, the reality is that creativity in engineering is largely constrained by legislation and economic imperatives. All accepted that the industry has and continues to change and despite challenges offers some excellent examples of practical sustainability. There is no room for complacency however and civil engineering companies can learn from other large corporates and should embrace the networking opportunities offered by the newly established partnership between Cynnal Cymru and The Institution of Civil Engineers who have recently joined Cynnal Cymru as a corporate member.

Cynnal Cymru offers a variety of tailored training and professional development packages for individuals and organisations. If you would require further information or would like to discuss your training needs, please contact Rhodri Thomas, Training Manager by emailing 

Rhodri is educated to Masters level in Environmental Management and has worked for the Environment Agency and Forum For The Future among others. He has a Professional Graduate Certificate (PGCE) in Adult Education & Training. 

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