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Sustainable Communities

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‘Sustainable consumption and production’ Sir Brian Heap, St Edmund’s College

Why do some communities survive while others fail? This question has been addressed by several commentators including Jared Diamond who examined the demise of flourishing cultures. Their disappearance was linked to one or more factors such as resource depletion, unstable trading partnerships, galloping reproductive growth rates and the failure to respond to the tell-tale signals our environment gives us. However, some societies have survived when faced by similar problems; by managing shared resources they avoided the tragedy of the commons that had terminated other cultures. However, some argue that without a sympathetic understanding of economic mechanisms it isn’t possible to offer advice on the interactions between nature and the human species. People can help themselves and there is no reason why such a process should not happen with sustainable consumption and production. This seminar will examine cases where this is already happening.

Brian Heap is Vice-President of European Academies Science Advisory Council and President of the International Society of Science and Religion. He was Director of the Babraham and Roslin Institutes, Director of Research at the Biotechnology and Biological Sciences Research Council, Vice-President and Foreign Secretary of the Royal Society, Master of St Edmund’s College, Cambridge, and Chair of DEFRA ’s Advisory Panel on Sustainable Consumption and Production.

‘One Planet Living; BedZED Eco-Village’ Sue Riddlestone, BioRegional, London

Ecological Footprinting shows us that if everyone in the world lived as we do in Europe we would need three planets to support us. Of course we only have one Earth. BioRegional have developed a number of real-life demonstrations of solutions for sustainability which show that living within our means or “One Planet Living” is not only possible and cost effective but can bring a higher quality of life. Sue Riddlestone will talk about the BedZED eco-village in south London where BioRegional are based and describe the One Planet Living design approach, which uses Ecological Footprint to develop targets and action plans, to a number of exemplary projects worldwide. Projects include sustainable cities and communities from China to San Francisco to the London Borough of Sutton through to B&Q company operations and products and the London 2012 Olympics.

Sue Riddlestone is co-founder and Executive Director of BioRegional, a multi award winning organisation which develops practical solutions for sustainability, working in the fields of new and existing communities and production and supply systems. BioRegional are the environmental organisation behind the BedZED eco-village where the organisation is based. At BioRegional Sue has pioneered projects on sustainable paper production including leading a team to develop clean technology for small scale paper pulping which will be able to make paper from local materials such as straw. Sue co-authored a book with co-founder Pooran Desai about BioRegional’s projects and approach entitled “BioRegional Solutions”. She is a co-founding director of “One Planet Living” a global initiative based on ten principles of sustainability developed by BioRegional and WWF .

‘Sustainability indicators of waste’ Kohei Watanabe, Teikyo University, Japan

The main strand of current environmental policies is to set a target based on some indicators and to implement measures to achieve them. The widely accepted concept of “waste hierarchy” places priority on waste reduction and re-use before recycling, nevertheless most policy measures focus on recycling. This may be due to the fact that recycling was the easiest for making an indicator. It is important to devise good indicators in order to get the priorities right. An alternative indicator for recycling may be useful, as the recycling rate may not be the best measure for efficient use of resources. An indicator for reuse is difficult, as e.g. one user using an item for a long period may be as good as having the item re-used many times. Measuring the degree of waste minimisation is the most difficult as it requires measuring what had been avoided from becoming waste, i.e. “something that is not there”.

Kohei Watanabe is associate professor at Teikyo University (Tokyo, Japan) and a research associate at the CSC , St Edmund’s College. He obtained his PhD (Geography, Cambridge) on the topic of household waste management. His current research focuses on the verification and analysis of municipal waste statistics.

This talk is part of the Seminars on Sustainable Scenarios series.

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