Janet Hooke appointed to Natural England Science Advisory Committee



Professor Janet Hooke, Professor of Physical Geography in the Department of Geography and Planning, has been appointed to the Natural England’s Science Advisory Committee (NESAC).

Natural England is the Government agency established to ensure that the natural environment is conserved, enhanced and managed for the benefit of present and future generations, thereby contributing to sustainable development.

Its purposes include promoting nature conservation and protecting biodiversity; conserving and enhancing the landscape; securing the provision and improvement of facilities for the study, understanding and enjoyment of the natural environment; promoting access to the countryside, open spaces and encouraging open air recreation, and contributing in other ways to social and economic well being through management of the natural environment.

NESAC is an advisory committee to the Natural England Board and has an important role in providing advice, challenge and review to their Science and Evidence functions.

Members collectively serve as an external adviser to Natural England in the areas of scientific expertise central to Natural England’s work and provide scrutiny of their evidence programme and key priority programmes, including the development of new methodologies for analysis and use of evidence.

Now That Bristol is European Green Capital 2015, what can Liverpool and other cities learn from them?

Video: Bristol Green Capital Partnership 2015 Presentation to European Jury

Post by Dr. Alex Nurse

On Friday, it was announced that Bristol is to be European Green Capital in 2015, beating off competition from the other finalists Glasgow, Brussels and Ljubljana.  We would like to congratulate them on their success, and in this post we consider what the lessons are for other cities, particularly Liverpool.

Prior to its success, Bristol has made numerous bids for the award – including being runner up for the 2014 award (which went to Copenhagen) and finalists in 2010/11.  Above all, what this indicates is that Bristol used the process of compiling and submitting its bid as a means to assess its environmental performance, addressing any shortfalls identified and coming back stronger.  Rather than bowing to failure, the city proactively continued to develop.  Throughout this process, leaders of Bristol Green Capital Partnership attributed no dis-benefits from making an unsuccessful bid – instead pointing to significant reputational enhancement, especially at a European scale.

Now, as Liverpool remains in the early stages of exploring a bid, the lessons in this regard are clear.  By beginning this process now, Liverpool can assess how it will perform in a bidding environment, and then take meaningful action to address any shortfalls.  In the same way as Bristol, this has two benefits:

  1. It establishes the city’s green ambitions, as a place to invest, live and work.
  2. It helps to create an environment within the city to support a future successful bid, engaging policy makers and residents alike in a shift in perceptions that allows them to see Liverpool as a green city.

Reflecting point two, in particular, based on assessment of past winners, the award appears to be given to cities fitting two broad models:

  1. The Idealised City – This winner is a city that is a high-achiever in terms of green performance and has been for some time.  The award in this case is intended to celebrate this progress and show what other cities can learn from it.  Examples include Stockholm (2010), Vitoria-Gasteiz (2012) and Copenhagen (2014).
  2. The Aspiring City – This winner is a city that is making excellent progress on environmental issues, yet is not considered to be a ‘green performer’ in the popular imagination.  Often these winners are post-industrial cities which have embraced green growth and the benefits that it can bring to their citizenry.  Examples include Hamburg, (2011) and Nantes (2013).

Analysis conducted by Low Carbon Liverpool suggests that Bristol fits into the ‘idealised city’ model, comfortably leading the English competitor cities against a host of indicators including per capita CO2 emissions and recycling.

Considering a future bid for the award by Liverpool, we anticipate that Liverpool would fit comfortably into the aspiring city model.  Building on its industrial heritage to move into a new economic model, Liverpool would be able to contribute to that narrative with ease.  It is also worth nothing that of the cities that have won to date, Hamburg and Nantes both bear striking similarities to Liverpool i.e. a major port city which has undergone significant social and economic shifts in the last few decades.

We congratulate Bristol on taking the prestige of being the first UK city to win the award, and hope Liverpool can learn from this.  Liverpool and Bristol would offer rather different things – in many ways, the situation could be likened to two boxers competing for belts in different classifications which, while appearing similar, require markedly different attributes in order to succeed.

In conclusion, we think there are two major lessons that Liverpool can take from Bristol winning the European Green Capital award.

  • Firstly –  While Bristol is the first UK winner, it sits within a different paradigm.  A Liverpool candidacy would offer different outcomes, and represent a different kind of green capital: one which has undergone a significant transition from a city of post-industrial decline.  Thus the city still has legitimate claim to be an innovator if the appetite is there.
  • Secondly – Winning the award is the validation of a process.  Bristol has undertaken several years of pragmatic investment in its environmental agenda prior to being designated European Green Capital.  Liverpool should welcome a similar process, not as a burden, but as a fundamental tool in identifying and delivering the city’s key priorities for the future.


Geographer presents at ‘EnvironmentAsia’ International Conference

ImageDr Neil Macdonald from the School of Environmental Sciences was an invited speaker at the 2nd EnvironmentAsia International Conference in Pattaya, Thailand; he was invited to speak on Droughts and floods: a European perspective. The meeting provided a lively environment for students and academics from across Asia to discus exciting and developing research. Neil commented: “The conference provided me with an opportunity to see a fabulous country and people, this will hopefully be the start of better links between the Environmental Sciences at Liverpool and colleagues in Thailand”

AHRC research grant success for the Department of Geography & Planning

Dr Neil Macdonald and colleagues have been awarded an AHRC grant worth £1.1m to undertake research into the cultural memory of extreme weather events in the UK.

 The research will use historical records and oral histories to investigate how people have been affected by and responded to climate variability and extreme weather events since the start of the eighteenth century. The work will consider how key events become ingrained into the cultural fabric of communities and how they influence historical and cultural change across the UK. A series of case studies from around the UK will be considered, including: North, West and Southwest Wales, The East Anglia coast and Northwest Scotland, the Central England region, and Southwest England.

The project which is supported through the AHRC’s Care for the Future emerging research theme, and is led by Professor Georgina Endfield, (University of Nottingham), with co- applicants Dr Neil Macdonald (University of Liverpool), Dr Sarah Davies and Dr Cerys Jones, (University of Aberystwyth) and Dr Simon Naylor (University of Glasgow).

The work will be completed in conjunction with partner organisations the Royal Geographical Society (with the IBG), the Met Office’s ACRE initiative (Atmospheric Circulation Reconstructions over the Earth) and English Heritage.

Dr Macdonald “We are delighted by this award; the research will allow the team to examine the degree to which environmental and cultural context influences societal behaviour in responding to extreme events, and the capacity to adapt to extreme weather. This will provide valuable information on how risk, vulnerability, mitigation and technology have changed through time, from the start of the eighteenth century to present in shaping approaches to increasing resilience to extreme events.”