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UN Global Compact Network UK’s Responsible Business & SDGs Summit

Business stakeholders are demanding companies do better. Inequality, climate change, plastic pollution – business has a critical role to play in addressing these crises. The UN Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) provide the framework for responsible business to
help create the future we want.

With this in mind, the UN Global Compact Network UK is delighted to invite you to their Responsible Business & SDGs Summit. Taking place July 20th-21st, this flagship event will convene 2000+ CEOs, business experts, CSOs, investors, and high-level representatives from Government, the United Nations, and civil society. The Summit will share best practice solutions to sustainability challenges and inspire participants to new heights of responsible business leadership through support for the Global Goals.

The fantastic line-up of speakers includes Paul Polman, former CEO, Unilever and now Co-founder of IMAGINE and Co-chair, UN Global Compact, who will be opening the event.

Join the Summit to explore:
• Corporate reporting on the SDGs with GRI and PwC;
• Sustainable finance with leaders from the Global Compact CFO Taskforce for the
SDGs;
• Embedding ESG into your business;
• Local action and partnership to advance the Goals with the All-Party Parliamentary
Group on the SDGs;
• Business’ role in taking climate action (a formal debate!);
• Practical tools and inspirational action to raise ambition for the 2030 Agenda with B
Lab.

Discover the full program and register here.

Blaenau Gwent Climate Assembly report and recommendations published

The Assembly was held virtually over two weekends in March and brought together over 40, randomly selected, demographically representative, people living in the county borough to deliberate the very important question: “What should we do in Blaenau Gwent to tackle the climate crisis in a way that is fair and improves living standards for everyone?”

The Climate Assembly adopted five recommendations relating to transport, housing and green space, which achieved over 80% support. These recommendations were written by the Assembly members themselves and informed by presentations from climate change experts.

You can view the recommendations and the report in full here

This report was drafted by Cynnal Cymru and the Electoral Reform Society Cymru, two of the organising partners of the Blaenau Gwent Climate Assembly.

In September last year the Council officially declared a Climate Emergency in Blaenau Gwent. Next week, all borough councillors will have the opportunity to hear from Blaenau Gwent Climate Assembly members about their recommendations and consider how they can take this agenda forward.

The Blaenau Gwent Public Services Board, which brings together organisations including the council, health, housing, police and the voluntary sector, have committed to giving a written response to these recommendations at their next meeting in July. This reflects Public Services Board partners’ long-term commitment to Blaenau Gwent playing its full part in taking action to achieve Wales’s target for Net Zero emissions by 2050.

Cllr Dai Davies, the Council’s Deputy Leader and Executive Member for Regeneration & the Economic Development, will be leading the briefing. He says:

“We are absolutely committed as a Council to working with a wide range of partners to do whatever we can to respond locally to this global issue. We recognise the huge challenges that are ahead of us all in trying to protect our environment for the well-being of our future generations. This is why as a Local Authority we declared a Climate Emergency and already started to act through our Decarbonisation Plan. This plan sees us take a more strategic approach towards achieving carbon neutrality by prioritising work in a number of key areas of our operations which, with some changes, can make a significant contribution towards our carbon neutral aim.

“The people at the Climate Assembly were equally passionate about our environment and their recommendations will help to focus our minds even further and tells us what they think is key to tackling this issue. Thank you to everyone who took part for your time.”

The report will also be presented to the Blaenau Gwent Public Services Board, as working with regional partners is key to addressing environmental issues.

Sarah Hopkins, Director, Cynnal Cymru – Sustain Wales, says:

“The transition to net zero will mean changes to people’s lives so it is vital that communities understand and participate in this journey. Tackling the climate crisis, provides an opportunity to address existing inequalities in Wales and improve lives for everyone. It is really encouraging to see the commitment of Blaenau Gwent Council, the wider PSB and the Housing Associations to listening and responding to the recommendations from the Assembly.

“We hope that other regions in Wales will also adopt similar processes to inform decarbonisation action plans.”

Steve Cranston, Foundational Economy Lead at United Welsh Housing says:

“We are delighted to have been involved in Wales first climate assembly. It shows it is possible to bring a representative sample of people together – and address one of the toughest challenges facing us all – the climate crisis. The Climate Assembly process is one that is respectful of different opinions and builds trust. The top 5 recommendations had overwhelming 80% support from members. This gives these recommendations a weight and credibility that is hard to ignore.

“The process of working together across housing associations, the local authority, civil society organisations and citizens has been a positive one where relationships have been strengthened and trust built.

“The four housing associations who supported the Climate Assembly – Linc Cymru, Melin Homes, Tai Calon and United Welsh – are working on developing a coordinated response to the recommendations. In the key areas of housing retrofit and new build the recommendations will help shape our future priorities.”

The Blaenau Gwent Climate Assembly was organised by housing associations United Welsh; Linc Cymru Melin Homes and Tai Calon in partnership with sustainable development charity Cynnal Cymru, Blaenau Gwent Council and ERS Cymru.

The 5 recommendations are:

Transport

  1. Establish an affordable, integrated road & rail transport system accessible throughout BG. A one ticket system that links to bus, rail & cycle schemes – inclusivity for purchasing of tickets (digital or paper). Accessible all hours with safety via lighting, CCTV and to keep maintained.
  2. Establish & improve a safe, easily maintainable infrastructure for walkers & cyclists, for either recreational or work purposes, with access to the public transport network. Including lighting & CCTV & storage for bikes.

Housing

  1. Retrofit Train local tradespeople, create qualifications and upskill local businesses, involve FE colleges and local Universities, future proof it and provide the right courses to enable them to do the work in all green construction.

Green Space and Nature

  1. Implement a programme of woodland preservation and reforestation of BG, using the right tree in the right place for the right reason, increasing opportunities for jobs, biodiversity and connecting woodlands. Making sure the skills are available so we can create green jobs, e.g. saw milling and timber framed housing.

Housing New Build

  1. Ensure that all new build properties are built using the latest sustainable technologies (e.g. Glanffrwd development as a template), employing local builders and providing a variety of accommodation types appropriate for all inc. homeless/single occupancy up to large families.

Empowering Change: New Eco-Literacy course launches on World Environment Day

At Cynnal Cymru we have always championed individuals and organisations that take action for sustainable development. We know there is no single solution as to how we can arrive at a more equal, abundant and sustainable future, which is why the array of different actions that we come across, from different sources and sectors, both excite and reassure us.

It is this faith in the ability of people to identify solutions that fit within the context of their own lives that has inspired our latest training course – Nabod Natur: Nature Wise – which was recently piloted with a range of organisations including Swansea Council, Mind Cymru and Welsh Government.

Aimed at explaining the global nature crisis that we are facing in an accessible way, the course provides an overview of the intricate way that ecosystems function to sustain life. It then explores the links between human activity and the disruption in natural cycles that we are experiencing – with climate change and declining wildlife being increasingly evident results.

The course also covers national and international frameworks for nature recovery as well as practical steps that are being encouraged or pioneered. Most important to us, the course creates the space for participants to apply course knowledge and concepts to their own lives, identifying the ways most useful and beneficial to them to act for nature recovery in their organisation, at home and in the community.

Launching a course like this is no easy thing with so many expert organisations already existing in ecology, education, behaviour change and action planning – in fact, everything that Nature Wise covers. Our aim was to bring together all these aspects and we are delighted by the reactions of our pilot attendees As an early participant identified: “You have empowered people to change and in today’s world that is a marvellous result.”

Nature Wise launches on 5 June: World Environment Day
First Open Course: 20 and 22 July: 2 x online sessions with optional self-directed study in between. Total time commitment 5-6 hours. Cost: £85 per learner with discounts for group bookings
To discuss bespoke training for your organisation or to book onto the first open course please contact training@cynnalcymru.com

Give nature a helping hand. Hundreds of new free garden packages available to communities

Last year, more than 500 gardens were created, restored and enhanced through Local Places for Nature. Community groups and organisations of all shapes and sizes got involved – from disability charities and youth groups to social enterprises and carer groups. 

Applications have now reopened, and communities are being urged to get involved early to avoid missing out. You can choose from small-scale fruit and herb, pollinator and urban gardens, or larger-scale wildlife and food growing gardens.   

Deputy Chief Executive for Keep Wales Tidy Louise Tambini said: 

“Over the past year, more people than ever have come to appreciate the value of nature on their doorstep. But urgent action must be taken to give reverse its decline. That’s why we’re so excited to reopen applications for Local Places for Nature.  

“Thanks to the ongoing support of Welsh Government and our partners, hundreds of new gardens will be taking shape across the country over the next few months.” 

The initiative is part of a wider Welsh Government ‘Local Places for Nature’ fund committed to creating, restoring and enhancing nature ‘on your doorstep’. 

Minister for Climate Change Julie James said:  

The pandemic has given us all a greater appreciation of nature and the way in which it underpins our health, economy and wider wellbeing. 

“The environment will be at the heart of our new government’s decision making, so I am delighted that we can continue to support our communities to do their bit to help out our plants, birds and pollinators across Wales. I encourage you to get together to take advantage of this funding so you can give nature a helping hand.” 

Hundreds of free garden packages are available. To apply, visit the Keep Wales Tidy website www.keepwalestidy.cymru/nature  

Award-winning refill campaign awarded £49,999 to help fight plastic pollution in Cardiff

Environmental organisation City To Sea has been awarded £49,999 from the Landfill Disposals Tax Community Scheme (LDTCS) to help cut plastic pollution in Cardiff. The funding, which will be administered by the WCVA over the next two years, will help to reduce single use plastic waste by growing the number of businesses offering refill and reuse options across the city.

The LDTCS funds projects within five miles of certain waste transfer stations or landfill sites. In Cardiff, it will fund the expansion of City To Sea’s Refill campaign, via their multi-award-winning app which connects people to places to eat, drink and shop with less plastic.
The app already connects conscious consumers with more than 1,800 businesses accepting reusables and providing free tap water refills in Wales – including museums, bars, galleries, and supermarkets; as well as smaller, family businesses, local cafes and restaurants.

But it’s hoped that the expanded campaign will increase the number of locations and types of businesses listed on the app in Cardiff, helping to make re-use and refill the new social norm. Customers will be encouraged to use the app to find out where to refill everything from their water bottle, coffee cup, and lunch box, to household cleaning products and toiletries.

Hannah Osman, Refill Wales Manager at City to Sea said, “We are thrilled to have been awarded this LDTCS Grant and will be working closely with communities and businesses in the Cardiff region to tackle the mountain of avoidable single-use plastic created every day. The long-term ambition is that the expanded Refill campaign will result in the Cardiff region being weaned off its reliance on single use plastic. Consumer demand will drive sustainable innovation in the sector, impacting behaviour change within businesses and reducing the amount of plastic waste flowing into our rivers and oceans.”

WELSH BUSINESSES GET BEHIND REFILL AND REUSE
As a result of public health concerns during the pandemic, many cafes and retailers in Cardiff temporarily stopped accepting reusables and increased their use of single-use plastic. This is despite experts stating that reusables are perfectly safe to use, and only 5% of customers feeling that single-use items are safer than reusables.

So ahead of the first ever World Refill Day (16th June) City to Sea is encouraging a new wave of signups to the Refill app. They are welcoming businesses who already allow customers to bring their own containers or offer packaging- free options, or those who are looking to trial a refill service for the first time. Businesses are invited to use the app as a free marketing platform to drive footfall and increase sales.

New to the app this year is Kemi’s Café in Pontcanna. Patrick Nevins, who runs the popular independent café with his mum, Kemi, said “As a business, we are happy to help our customers reduce their reliance on single use packaging. We now offer free tap water refills and also allow customers to bring their own reusable coffee cups.”

Also recently signed up to the app is the Waterloo Tea chain of teahouses, which recently announced plans for a sixth site on Whitchurch Road. Founder Kas said “Our sites in Penylan, Lakeside, Roath and the city centre have all been added to the Refill app; we display our sticker to let customers know that they don’t have to buy bottled water, they can refill their reusable water bottles with us for free. Next month, on World Refill Day, we will also be launching a new discount scheme for people who use their own takeaway coffee cups.”

Both businesses – alongside many others around Cardiff – can be seen adding Refill window stickers to their shop fronts in a new film aimed at driving business sign-ups, available via this link. Other forward-thinking businesses in the food-to-go or retail sector are invited to share their involvement on social media using the hashtags #ReturnToRefill.

Jo Morley, Head of Campaigns at City to Sea said, “The pandemic unfortunately led to a huge increase in single-use plastic, but as move towards a sense of normality, we need to ensure we don’t see a repeat of the scenes of last summer where our beaches, parks and beauty spots were covered in pointless single-use packaging. Refill provides a simple way for businesses and consumers to take action to turn the tide on plastic pollution – as we prepare for the first ever World Refill Day (16th June), it’s time to get reusables back on the menu!”

Any business can sign up as a Refill Station and add their own details by registering for free on the app at refill.org.uk/get-the-refill-app/.

BETTER FOR THE PLANET, BETTER FOR BUSINESS
5.5 billion plastic bottles escape household recycling collection every year. They are littered, landfilled or incinerated (creating toxic fumes in the process).

Offering refills is an easy way to help reduce this figure, and over 120 health experts from eighteen countries have signed a statement assuring retailers and consumers that reusables are safe during COVID-19.
The health experts emphasise that disposable products are not inherently safer than reusables, and that reusable systems can be utilised safely during the pandemic by employing basic hygiene.
But offering refills also has a positive impact on business. According to research[2]:
• 66% of people said they would be likely to make a purchase from a business whilst refilling.
• 65% would be likely to return to make a future purchase.
• 64% would choose to make a purchase from a participating business over a competitor.
• 7 out of 10 people would view a business more favourably if it provided refills.

HOW TO ENJOY A NO-CONTACT REFILL
Reusables can be used safely and accepting them doesn’t have to be complicated – in fact it can be super simple. Here’s how cafes and other businesses can offer a no-contact refill:

  1. Customers place their clean reusable bottle or container (lid off) onto a designated spot and steps back two metres.
  2. The server refills the container without touching it. The customer replaces the lid and takes away the container.
    Or;
  3. Using a clean napkin, the server takes the customer’s container and fills it from the tap. The server replaces the bottle on the counter and disposes of the napkin.
  4. Customers celebrate reducing the prevalence of single-use plastic – diolch!

[1] [4] Brita/You Gov – https://resource.co/article/study-finds-45-cent-fall-purchases-bottled-water-go

[2] Water, Water Everywhere (2018) Moving on from awareness to action on single use plastic bottles. Keep Britain Tidy & BRITA: http://www.keepbritaintidy.org/sites/default/files/resources/Water%20Water%20Everywhere%202018%20Report%20WEB.pdf

How do we tackle the unequal impacts of climate change?

The climate crisis unfairly impacts some people more than others, based on gender, race, class, income, disability and location. Often those least responsible for causing the problem, are most likely to be impacted.

With a focus on the UK, this event considered how impacts will be felt unequally and how injustices could be addressed. Calling for the diverse voices of those impacted to be central to our response to the climate crisis.

Panellists:

  • Dr Michael Mikulewicz – Research Fellow, Centre for Climate Justice
  • Sarah Hopkins – Director, Cynnal Cymru / Sustain Wales
  • Suzanne Dhaliwal – Climate Justice Creative, Campaigner, Researcher, Lecturer in Environmental Justice and Trainer in Creative Strategies for Decolonisation
  • Ravina Singh – UK Cities Senior Engagement Officer, CDP

Video Contributors:

  • Liam Crouse – Organiser, Misneachd
  • Paul Cobbing – Chief Executive, National Flood Forum Michael Lomotey FRSA, MSc (he/him) – Adaptation Planning Specialist – for Climate and Ecology Repair.
  • Heather Shepherd – Flood Recovery Specialist, National Flood Forum
  • Rosamund Adoo-Kissi-Debrah – Co-Founder, Ella Roberta Family
  • Sunita – Blaenau Gwent Climate Assembly Member
  • Sadie DeCoste – Co-Founder and Director, Loss and Damage Youth
  • Ineza Umuhoza Grace – Co-Founder & Co-Director, Loss and Damage Youth Coalition Susie Fitton – Policy Officer, Inclusion Scotland

Watch or listen to a recording of this important discussion below:

Sustainability First are a UK think-tank and charity who promote practical ways to improve environmental, social and economic wellbeing in public utilities.

Related reads and resources:

Guardian article: New homes in poorer areas of England and Wales face undue flood risk
Friends of the Earth podcast: How are climate and racism connected?
Climate in Colour
IPPR report: Putting people at the heart of tackling the climate and nature emergency
Teach the Future
Black and Green Ambassadors Programme
Local Trust podcast: Community voices on climate change
What is a citizen’s assembly
Blaenau Gwent Climate Assembly recommendations
IPPR report: The Climate Commons
Carbon Literacy
Wellbeing of Future Generations (Wales) Act
Participatory budgeting
Local Trust: Big Local
Inclusion Scotland webinar: Climate change, disability and Eco-ableism – and webinar briefing
Stop Climate Chaos blog: Disability, climate justice and eco-ableism

Wales Nature Week is coming! 29 May – 6 June 2021

One of the key messages emerging from lockdown has been a heightened awareness – or perhaps renewed appreciation – of the importance and benefits of nature. Gardens, parks, walks along open spaces, even balconies to experience bird song or rooms with a view of woodland or hedgerows have all been embraced, with growing recognition that these are not just nice-to-have backdrops but something fundamental to our well-being – anchors in daily life that restore and revive us.

If this rings true for you, and you have also found nature to be a soothing and restorative presence, then there is an opportunity to repay some of this natural bounty, and even help it spread, through Wales Nature Week, starting at the end of May.

Wales Nature Week is an annual celebration of the often overlooked but nonetheless incredible habitats and species of Wales. Temperate rainforests, globally significant seabird populations, insects and spiders found nowhere else in the world – these are all on our doorstep, alongside species recently re-introduced or coming back from the brink such as beavers, pine martens and red squirrels.

Through its virtual programme, which includes a participative Garden BioBlitz, Wales Nature Week shines a light each day on different habitat types and the species they support. There will also be helpful tips and support from a community of experts for anyone curious to learn more, particularly about how we as individuals can give back to nature in our homes or workplaces.

As the amount of land left to wilderness and wildlife shrinks, our collective potential contribution to nature recovery, as citizens, homeowners and inhabitants of work premises, becomes increasingly important. We explore this, and other contributions that individuals and organisations can make to nature restoration, in our new training course, Nature Wise – Nabod Natur, which we will launch on World Environment Day on 5 June.

If you want to learn more about the links between human activity and ecosystem disruption and develop the knowledge to enable you and your organisation to take action for nature recovery, then we hope that this will be the course for you. Please get in touch if you’d like to know more.

In the meantime however, for more insights into how anyone can take practical actions to help nature thrive, take a look at the Environmental Volunteering resource on our site and remember to sit back, recharge, re-energise and give back through logging in to Wales Nature Week.

Wales Millennium Centre is Wales’ 300th Living Wage Employer!

This is a welcome milestone for the movement in Wales and sees another anchor institution within Cardiff making their public commitment and further driving the capital’s Living Wage City ambitions.

Employers choose to pay the Real Living Wage on a voluntary basis and it differs from the National Living Wage in that it is independently calculated based on the true cost of living for employees and their families. NLW has recently gone up to £8.91 and included anybody over 23 but the Real Living Wage remains the only rate to truly be enough to live on and includes anybody over the age of 18.

The commitment by Wales Millennium Centre means that everyone working for the organisation receives the Real Living Wage, regardless of whether they are directly employed or a regularly contracted member of staff. They have been paying this rate since 2019 but by becoming accredited they are publicly committing to adhering to annual recalculations and promoting Living Wage Principles on-site and within the community.

“Although we have been paying the Real Living Wage since 1 April 2019 we are very proud to become accredited as a real Living Wage employer. Through accreditation, we are making our commitment to the annual increase in the real Living Wage and will be promoting the real Living Wage to our on-site contractors and in our community. We are delighted to be joining a network of other employers that believe in a wage that meets everyday needs.”

Sian Ropaigealach, HR Project Manager, Wales Millennium Centre

“We would like to acknowledge and give thanks to those at Wales Millennium Centre who put in the work to make this happen. We look forward to working with WMC as members of our network and key employer in making Cardiff a Living Wage City. We hope that this accreditation will inspire other employers in the arts and in other sectors in Wales to look into accreditation and the benefits this has for employees and the organisation”

Sarah Hopkins Director Cynnal Cymru, Accrediting body in Wales

“We are delighted to celebrate the accreditation of Wales Millennium Centre as the 300th Living Wage employer in Wales – it has been a long drama, but it gets a standing ovation from us!  Five years ago young people in Butetown and Grangetown like me identified a lack of representation of people who looked like us in the workforce of major organisations in Cardiff Bay.  We asked employers, like Wales Millennium Centre, to sign the ‘Community Jobs Compact’ – committing them to fair recruitment through name-blind and address-blind recruitment processes; to fair career development opportunities through stable contracts and mentoring; and to fair wages, by accrediting as a Living Wage employer.  In Mathew Milsom, Managing Director of Wales Millennium Centre, we found an ally who quickly ensured fair recruitment processes and fair career development opportunities – and has now completed all aspects of the Community Jobs Compact.  Local people of all backgrounds should know that if they apply for a job at Wales Millennium Centre, they will get a fair shot at the role, good development opportunities, and the Real Living Wage of £9.50 an hour.  We call on other Cardiff employers to follow their example and build back better out of Covid by accrediting as a Living Wage employer and signing the Community Jobs Compact.”

Nirushan Sudarsan, a leader from Cardiff Citizens

Cardiff’s Living Wage City Ambitions

Cardiff has ambitions to become a ‘Living Wage City’. A group of prominent Cardiff employers joined forces to form the Cardiff Living Wage Action Group and in 2019 launched their 3-year action plan to begin ‘Making Cardiff a Living Wage City’.

Action Plan includes:
• Increasing the number of accredited Living Wage employers to 150 by 2022.
• Increasing the number of people working for accredited Living Wage employers to 48,000 by 2022.
• Encouraging major employers, iconic employers and ‘anchor’ organisations in Cardiff to become accredited Living Wage employers.
• Supporting small businesses to accredit through the Council’s Living Wage Accreditation Support Scheme.


There are already over 125 Cardiff Living Wage employers signed up to the scheme including Cardiff Council, Cardiff University, Cardiff Metropolitan University, University of South Wales, Cardiff and Vale University Health Board, Capital Law, Knox and Wells, Wales and West Housing, Welsh Government, Cardiff and Vale Credit Union, and most recently Ffilm Cymru.

Councillor Huw Thomas, Leader of Cardiff Council said:

“Wales Millennium Centre is an instantly recognisable sight in the capital city and how fitting that an organisation based in such an iconic landmark should become Wales’ 300th Living Wage employer.

 “The Living Wage City Steering Group, the Council-led forum which drives the Living Wage agenda in Cardiff, has been working with WMC for some time to achieve this and we are thrilled to have them on board, joining more than 125 other accredited Living Wage employers in the city.

“As we focus on our economy reopening and the city recovering from the impact of the past year, we’re keen for that number to keep growing and can help organisations to become accredited via our Living Wage Accreditation Support Scheme for SMEs. We encourage employers to find out about the difference accreditation can make to their business and their business’s reputation by visiting www.cardiff.gov.uk/LivingWage


‘Collectively we demand change’ – Blaenau Gwent Climate Assembly published recommendations

The Blaenau Gwent Climate Assembly has spent the last four weeks designing and deliberating on proposals to tackle climate change in Blaenau Gwent.

The final proposals were presented and voted on during the Assemblies final session on Sunday (28 March).

Five key recommendations were passed with over 80% of the assembly members support across areas such as transport, housing and green spaces including:

  • The establishment of an affordable, integrated road and rail transport system in Blaenau Gwent with a one-ticket system for bus, rail and cycle schemes
  • Establishing safe and easily maintainable infrastructure for walkers and cyclists
  • New training for local tradespeople, qualifications and upskilling to increase green construction skills across the borough
  • Implementing a programme of woodland preservation and reforestation increasing opportunities for jobs, biodiversity and connecting woodlands.
  • Ensure new housing is developed with the latest sustainable techniques

The final report of the Assembly will be published the week of 18 April 2021. A full list of recommendations can be found here.

Michelle Morris, Managing Director, Blaenau Gwent County Borough Council said:

“I would like thank everyone who took the time to take part in Wales’ first climate assembly. The Council and Public Service Board welcome the views of local people and their ideas for dealing with the climate crisis.

“Climate change is a global issue and it’s absolutely vital that we act now to protect our environment for the well-being of future generations and the recommendations from the Assembly are vital for us as the Welsh public sector when we develop our long term plans to shape our approach to tackling the challenges ahead.

“We’re already taking a number of actions as part of our Decarbonisation plan to reduce our carbon impact. The 5 recommendations from the Climate Assembly will help us to prioritise our work in a number of key areas and these will make a significant contribution towards our carbon neutral aim.”

Jess Blair, Director, ERS Cymru said:

“The Blaenau Gwent Climate Assembly shows what happens when you do politics differently – brining a community together and providing them with the space to deliberate on important issues in their local area. . This was Wales’ first climate assembly but we hope it will not be the last.”

“Citizen participation is vital in local decision making, it brings legitimacy, builds trust and shows that, when given the support, ordinary people can help shape their communities and come up with valuable solutions to important issues.

“Now the assembly is has spoken we look forward to seeing how Blaenau Gwent responds to their recommendations.”

Matt, Participant, Blaenau Gwent Climate Assembly said:

“I found the climate assembly a really rewarding experience. I was able to connect with many different types of people from all walks of life within Blaenau Gwent to talk about a common goal.

“Some of the evidence that we talked about certainly shocked me, but it was comforting to know that the solutions are really within our own hands and I’m really looking forward to having our recommendations evaluated, and hopeful some will be taken forward to make a real difference within Blaenau Gwent so that we can really start to see some positive change.”

Sunita, Participant, Blaenau Gwent Climate Assembly said:

“Before taking part in the climate assembly, I was aware of the causes and the effects of climate change and have always been passionate about doing everything that I can to make a difference on an individual level.
“I have learnt so much from my experience as an Assembly Member; from recognising that there is a lack of awareness about climate change on a local and national level, to understanding the level of interest and passion from the people of Blaenau Gwent to make things better.

“Collectively we demand change from our council and our government. We urge the council and the governing bodies to listen to our recommendations that we as an assembly decided on and act upon them.

“We will not stop here. We will continue to learn. We will persist to make sure that our voices are heard. We will strive to make a positive difference in our own lives and in the communities around us.”


The assembly, was the first deliberative democratic event of its kind in Wales, brought 50 Blaenau Gwent residents together with expert speakers to develop proposals to address the climate crisis in their area.

The participants have been selected to be demographically representative of the wider Blaenau Gwent community representing the views and backgrounds of the borough’s residents.

Participants spent four weeks hearing from over 20 expert speakers on a range of issues including housing, fuel poverty, transport, nature and green space, jobs and skills before considering the evidence, make and vote on recommendations.

These will be sent to the Blaenau Gwent Public Service Board’s Climate Mitigation Steering Group, who have made a commitment to respond to the recommendations.

Why has Carbon Literacy proved to be such a success?

Carbon Literacy is a learning methodology that allows people to engage with the huge, complex and frightening reality of climate change and break the challenge down into manageable personal and organisational responses. Formulated in Manchester, the concept has now spread to over ten countries.

Cynnal Cymru is the official partner of the Carbon Literacy Project in Wales. Still managed in Manchester by Cooler Projects and overseen by the Carbon Literacy Trust, the concept is defined as;

“An awareness of the carbon dioxide costs and impacts of everyday activities, and the ability and motivation to reduce emissions, on an individual, community and organisational basis.”

On the 17th March Cardiff Council announced that it had become the first Welsh local authority to achieve Carbon Literate Organisation status in Wales. They are also the first organisation from any sector in Wales to meet the standard at a bronze level. Carbon Literate Organisation status goes from bronze to platinum.

Our Carbon Literacy trainer, Rhodri Thomas, shares more about the success of Carbon Literacy as well as his goal to reach six platinum level organisations in Wales and many many more at bronze to gold level over the next four years.

Rhodri was also the first resident Welsh certified Carbon Literacy trainer in Wales and has trained over 400 people and has seen the concept take hold in Wales.

Over to Rhodri…

Why has Carbon Literacy proved to be such a success?

Before answering that question, first let’s review what has been achieved:

  • After initially training the Sustainable Development forum of Museum Wales, we supported initial efforts by the whole museum sector to develop bespoke Carbon Literacy training.
  • We co-founded a consortium of twenty seven housing associations and oversaw the training of around 140 staff including a Train The Trainer programme as well as the development of a dedicated Carbon Literacy course for the social housing sector. Our partners in the consortium are launching a cascade of peer to peer training this spring using their own course.
  • We have just completed a project funded by National Resources Wales to train around 200 leaders and influencers from the organisations that make up the five Gwent Public Service Boards. On this we worked with Manchester Metropolitan University and Great Places Housing group.
  • We recently trained the whole cabinet and executive management team of Newport City Council.
  • We developed an introduction to climate change e-learning course for Denbighshire County Council that will accompany their Carbon Literacy training.
  • We designed a Carbon Literacy for Engineers course in collaboration with the Flexis programme.
  • We have trained Cardiff Council colleagues and cabinet members allowing them to apply for the Bronze Carbon Literacy Organisation accreditation.

So why the interest?

Some time ago, I was challenged with, “why should working class people in the valleys be burdened with this knowledge – they are not the ones causing all the problems.”

As I stumbled for a reply, someone else said, “Why shouldn’t they understand climate change and their part in it?”

That for me sums it up. Climate change – the effects and impacts of global warming – will spare no one. And yes, everyone is responsible although of course some people make a greater contribution to greenhouse gas levels than others. But through Carbon Literacy, this big scary problem becomes the stuff of everyday life.

The injustices of it are exposed but so are the solutions and the co-benefits of taking action, and above all, the awareness of personal agency is developed – everyone can do something to reduce emissions and everyone can do something to protect themselves, their families and their communities from the predicted and current impacts of this problem.

Managers, elected leaders, community workers, volunteers, specialists, skilled and unskilled workers and people looking for work have all been helped by the Carbon Literacy method to unpack the problem and stare the monster in the face.

We now have seven local authorities in Wales who have discovered the benefit of Carbon Literacy within the context of their declaration of a climate emergency and their formulation of complex plans to reduce their own and their county’s emissions.

Decarbonisation and climate change adaptation are two big and complicated challenges. They simply cannot be left for a small group of specialists to solve. When we all work together as a team, sharing our knowledge and insights, taking personal as well as collective responsibility, then we can hope to reach more effective solutions faster.

This is what we hope to see now from Cardiff, Newport, Torfaen, Monmouthshire, Blaenau Gwent, Caerffili and Denbighshire – all the local authorities that have so far embraced Carbon Literacy – the use of their Carbon Literacy to develop team work, horizontal and vertical collaboration, everyone speaking the same language and striving towards the same goals.

Climate change caused by global heating will define every aspect of life in the twenty first century. Everyone should understand it and be supported to develop a response. It’s not certain that our social and economic systems will adapt, decarbonise and survive what is already starting to happen but we give ourselves a greater chance if we face the problem and deconstruct it. As far as climate change is concerned, ignorance will be a very short lived and morally questionable bliss.

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