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How local communities contribute to achieving global climate ambitions

22/10/2021 Think Piece Top News
How local communities contribute to achieving global climate ambitions

The long-awaited COP26 starts at the end of October. Its purpose is to unite the world to tackle climate change, with a key focus on looking at how countries can achieve their net-zero targets. Many of the conversations and agreed actions at the summit will be at a global or national level. But what can individuals in local communities and smaller towns contribute to these massive ambitions?

This is where organisations like Coast & Vale Community Action (CaVCA) can make a big difference. Everyone at CaVCA , including myself as Chief Executive, believes that people and places matter. Our role is to actively listen to local people to understand what is important to them. We support them to achieve their goals so that as a community, they thrive. Climate change is an important issue for the people we work with on the Yorkshire Coast. We live with effects of climate change every day, with high tides getting higher and more frequent storms. The communities we serve want to help. Neither they, nor we, are environmental experts. Yet we all recognise that working together, individuals taking small steps can create significant collective action and a movement to address issues like climate change.

CaVCA has worked with the York & North Yorkshire Local Enterprise Partnership (LEP) and supported their Circular Yorkshire campaign for many years. We have a shared an interest in circular economy as a way to help strengthen local communities. Indeed, today we see it as one of the ways in which we can recover from the economic and social impacts of the pandemic. The LEP has a vision for a greener, fairer, stronger economy. The real people we engage with are concerned with keeping their local shops and businesses open, tackling food waste and preventing plastic pollution in the ocean. These are all part of the same challenge and ambition. At grassroots, people focus on what they know and do what they can, without worrying too much about what they can’t change.

Over the past six months we have been developing our Circular Coast initiative. Circular Coast brings together over three hundred people and organisations keen to explore the benefits of a circular approach within the community, whether it’s about promoting shop local or using and re-using some of the fantastic resources that exist on the coast . Through the Circular Yorkshire campaign we took part in the national ‘Great Big Green Week’ which gave us the opportunity to show case just how much local people care about nature and the climate.

David Stone from CaVCA said, “During the Great Big Green Week on the Yorkshire Coast, we saw 38 events and activities, over 20 local independent businesses offering Green Deals, dozens of Random Acts of Kindness and hundreds of community conversations about how we can all do our bit to care for nature, the planet and each other. It has been wonderful to see how much our local communities care”. 

CaVCA will be supporting Circular Yorkshire Week 2021, running from the 15th-22nd October. Now in its third year, the campaign led by York & North Yorkshire LEP in collaboration with partners from across Yorkshire, will focus on supporting towns and communities like those on the Yorkshire Coast to understand and use circular economy practices as a way to help strengthen and grow community cohesion as well as local economies.

Circular Yorkshire Week launches at the Harrogate District Net Zero Conference on Friday 15th October. As part of this event, the national Zero Carbon Tour including the affectionately named ‘Carbon Battle Bus’, will visit Harrogate on route to Glasgow and COP26.  To celebrate Circular Yorkshire Week, the LEP will promote a new Circular Towns Guide at an online event on Monday 18th October. Inspired by the approach of ‘circular cities’ such as London and Glasgow, the guide adapts a circular approach to towns and smaller communities to ensure that every place across the region, whatever their size, can benefit from a circular economy. It is full of practical advice, case studies and guidance to help towns and communities benefit from circular actions. The aspiration is to ensure that every local town and community across the region is empowered and enabled to contribute to achieving the UK’s Net Zero ambition. For more information on the Circular Yorkshire campaign and activities, it’s worth visiting the LEP’s website

We believe supporting communities to become circular is a good thing and plays a role in achieving those big, global ambitions. Contact me, Mel Bonney, if you’d like to work with us in the future.  

This article was written for and published by the Yorkshire Post. 

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