First Year Student’s Perspectives on what a Sustainable Liverpool Looks Like

Post by Dr Alex Nurse

A few weeks ago, Pete North and I ran a seminar with the first year students taking the ‘Living With Environmental Change’ module.  Following discussions about what makes a sustainable city, we wanted to see what the first years themselves thought about what Liverpool was doing both right and wrong, as well as what it could do moving forward.

To help us, we used the World Cafe model of discussion, breaking into seven groups, each with a specific topic.  They were decided by the key areas for action identified in the recently published Environmental Audit of Liverpool, which in turn became key focus areas for the city’s new Green Partnership.

Those areas were: Energy, Transport, Green Infrastructure, CO2 emissions, Eco-Innovation and Waste/recycling.  We also added an extra table discussing the City’s overall priorities.After that, we set the students to it – taking ten minutes on each table to discuss their thoughts, writing down their best ideas for those who would follow.

Student ideas about Waste & Recycling

Student ideas about Waste & Recycling

We felt that there some excellent ideas and some great examples of forward thinking that could really benefit the city.  One example included a shift to consider wastefulness alongside traditional conceptions of waste/recycling, with the group suggesting greater use of clothes/food banks. Whilst the students weren’t fans of the recent move by the City Council to suspend Liverpool’s bus lanes, they were excited by the prospect of the Scouscycles bike hire scheme.  Similarly they had numerous ideas that the city could adopt to encourage the more efficient use of transport such as car-pool lanes and they were very keen for the rollout of Merseytravel’s Walrus Card (the Liverpool equivalent of the Oyster Card) to be completed.

Eco-Innovation Ideas from the students

Eco-Innovation Ideas from the students

In the coming months, Low Carbon Liverpool will have the opportunity to present evidence to the upcoming Mayoral Commission on the Environment, as well as continuing to feed into the activity of the Liverpool Green Partnership.  We plan to use some of those best ideas to help shape the evidence that we present, and hope that some of them may be realised.

For more information on Low Carbon Liverpool, or to find out how to get involved, please visit www.lowcarbonliverpool.com

Low Carbon Liverpool final event.

 

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Pete North, Alex Nurse and Tom Barker from the Department of Geography and Planning have been working with partners across the city for the past four or so years on a project “Low Carbon Liverpool“, funded by the ESRC.  The project has been examining the extent that the city has the right policies to secure its prosperity with what we need to do to avoid dangerous climate change.   Last Thursday, we held the latest in our funded seminar series, given to a packed house at the Foresight Centre.

 

After a welcoming address from Cllr Tim Moore, cabinet member for Climate Change for the City of Liverpool, the first of our speakers was John Flamson, director of Partnerships and Innovation at the University of Liverpool, who formally launched the Liverpool Green Partnership.   A coalition of actors and institutions from around the city including the University, Liverpool Vision, Liverpool Chamber of Commerce, Liverpool NHS Clinical Commissioning Group and the Eldonians, the Green Partnership seeks to build a greener city by working together to join up our policy working.

 

Following this, we heard from Peter North who talked about Low Carbon Liverpool’s progress over the life of its recent ESRC funding period, and emphasised some of the key messages – particularly how those cities perceived as being the most successful are equally those taking action on environmental and sustainability issues.

 

Then, we heard from our keynote speaker Krista Kline, managing director of the Los Angeles Regional Collaborative (LARC) on Sustainability and Climate Change.  Krista spoke to us about the key lessons that can be taken from LA – which faces its fair share of climate related issues – and how they can be applied to Liverpool.  In particular, Krista emphasised the need for collaboration on policy making, as well as the need to effectively connect abstract ideas of climate change to citizen’s everyday lives.

 

Following Krista’s talk and a brief Q&A, we heard from Walter Menzies, the former head of the Mersey Basin Campaign and now of the Atlantic Gateway, as well as being a visiting Professor in the Department of Geography and Planning.  In an inspiring talk, Walter spoke of how a long-term project can realise ambitious policy objectives, providing the right structures are in place.  In particular, Walter emphasised the importance of leadership, vision, including business interests, good communications and professionalism.

 

Finally, we heard from Colleen Martin, assistant Director for the Environment from the City of Liverpool, who outlined Liverpool City Council’s own work and agenda moving forward, including plans for the upcoming Mayoral Commission on the Environment.  In her talk, Colleen emphasised that there is already much going on within the city that we can celebrate – a fact highlighted in our recently published Environmental Audit.

 

All of Thursday’s speakers were hugely inspiring, in arguably our most successful event to date.  We’d like to thank everybody who came along, and we plan to make further announcements soon as the project evolves into a Green Partnership for Liverpool, and continues to discuss the possibility of Liverpool bidding to be a European Green Capital as well as mainstreaming the transition to a low carbon economy into the city’s economic development strategy.