RSA Sustainable Communities Conference - RSA

RSA Sustainable Communities Conference

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  • Picture of David Middleton FRSA
    David Middleton FRSA
  • Sustainability
  • Climate change

As long ago as 28 years I first encountered the concept of the tipping point. Then we were debating it as a precursor to the first Earth Summit held in Rio two years later in 1992.

Now, after all this time, it is headlined again as the UK enjoys its hottest summer for ages but when fires have created havoc here and in northern California, Canada, Spain, Portugal, France, Croatia, Greece – even in Siberia and Greenland. An international team of climate researchers, writing in the journal ‘Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences’, refocused on the idea we may have passed the tipping point and may be on an unstoppable route to a planet too hot for human life to be sustained.

I can get very gloomy about such things particularly when I see global emissions of carbon dioxide continuing to increase despite political commitments to reductions, the state of our oceans, our continuing wasteful actions, the relentless consumption of depleting natural resources. If we are indeed beyond the tipping point, at my age the consequences to my lifestyle here in the UK will probably not be devastating. But they are highly likely to impact on my children and I seriously dread the consequences for my grandchildren. It lies heavily on my conscience that this is a situation they will have inherited from my generation. We could have done more. The question is, as asked by the scientists, are we now too late?

The glimmer of light in this darkness is, at last, growing widespread awareness and acceptance that we have a problem (US President excepted). We also have extraordinary advances in technology and capabilities to respond. Indeed, we are undergoing an age of astonishing change. I find it hard to believe that, for instance, in the foreseeable future fossil fuelled vehicles will be confined to history. Aircraft will be powered by electric engines. Plastic, and how we use it, will be unrecognisable. How we communicate will continue on its radical evolution. Power supply will increasingly be localised and be from renewable sources. Our homes will change. So will how our food is provided. If you combine all these things and others it can be seen we are experiencing a transformational revolution in how we function. In our hectic, pressure caldron daily lives, it is often not recognised. 

We have technology and services available now to respond to the forces of climate change, the stresses on critical resources and other pressures impacting on us. So why do we keep repeating mistakes of the past (that led to Grenfell, for instance)?

That this transformational revolution is upon us and we have the products and services available to facilitate change will be clearly demonstrated on November 7th at the free to attend Sustainable Homes & Communities – Making Places Last conference to be held at the Tally Ho! Conference Centre in Birmingham, which is being held in partnership with the RSA Sustainability Network. This event brings together a wide variety of product and service providers, and headlines the need for better cross sector collaboration. Too often those who have what is needed to create low carbon, sustainable communities operate in isolated silos. That must change too, and this collaborative approach is something the RSA Sustainability Network strongly advocates.

Speakers at the November 7th event will provide case study evidence of change in action, of the application of new products and services and examples of new collaborative partnerships. The afternoon session, which is hosted by the RSA’s Sustainability Network, will involve a World Café style format to debate issues arising from the conference and identify key forward recommendations and actions. More information here.

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  • Our scheme the National Forest Gardening Scheme won a Catalyst Grant in 2017 to make a short animated film promoting the planting in communities of these systemic self-regulating edible food forests - as a way of enhancing and protecting public green space. We held our first AGM last month 

    attended by local authority directors of public health, heads of parks and environment, ecologists, community activists and planners. We are drafting a radical SPD to support the scheme. Several projects in Oxford, Worthing and Oldham are in the pipeline. I cannot make the event sadly but can I share it with our network? And if you'd like to show the film it's on the home page:

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