Manchester is all ears…
Author: Nick Taylor Buck, 6th March 2018
Greater Manchester's new Mayor, Andy Burnham, has a burning ambition to make Greater Manchester (GM) one of the leading green cities in Europe. In pursuit of his goal to become a zero carbon city, he is holding a Green Summit on 21st March 2018.
The Green Summit
The summit will develop a new Environmental Vision for GM using a multi-sectoral approach: industry experts, public sector, community & voluntary organisations and businesses will all be on the guest list. They will have the daunting task of thinking about how to transform nothing less than GM's homes, jobs, local business, transport, nature, food, waste, buildings, energy, and the economy.
The Environment Charter
When the summit is over, the real work begins. Andy Burnham's team will then have to distil all the advice and opinion from the summit into an actionable Environment Charter which the Mayor will adopt as a call to action and to inform policies and projects across GM.
The Listening Events
But how will this process reflect what people actually think in GM? The idea is that in the run up to the Green Summit, a series of 'Listening Events' are held to canvas opinions from anyone who cares to share them and come up with solutions and priorities for the Mayor. Indeed over 50 of these Listening Events have now taken place, and the SAFE project was well represented at the one focussed on the food system - Nick Taylor Buck presented to outline the aims of the SAFE project, and several members of the Manchester Action Research Team were participants in the discussions.
Recommendations from the Food Listening Event
The food listening event generated several posters and many, many post-it notes covered with ideas about what needs to be done in GM to make the food system work better. These ideas were cross-referenced and condensed to come up with a shortlist of recommendations that the SAFE team commented on before they were fed into the Green Summit process. The main message seemed to be that attendees wanted the Mayor to recognise food as an important cross-cutting agenda by resourcing and supporting appropriate governance structures within the city. Specifically this would mean:
- having a food champion at the highest level to develop cohesive food policy and report to the Mayor
- recognising the existing Food Vision as a fledgling strategic framework
- recognising the fledgling Good Food Greater Manchester Board as a mechanism for delivery of that strategy
These also reflect the desire expressed during the event that whatever is done should build on previous efforts and not 'reinvent the wheel'.
Now all we have to do is hope that these core ideas make it into the Charter, and that GM really starts to lead the way in developing a systemic approach to food.
It is not too late to get involved and have your say. People can share their thoughts by completing the online survey and can air their opinions on social media to make sure that the things they care about get noticed. Tweet @GMLowcarbonhub #GMGreenCity