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Innovations in Local Politics and Planning for Sustainable and Transformative Action

Environment Themed

What’s on offer?

This event aims to deepen our understanding of the relationship between politics and local governance that can affect sustainable outcomes. The session will provide insights on how to reorientate local institutions towards environmental benefits and social wellbeing, both by working with local councillors, planners or other community groups interested in positively shaping where they live. In particular, the event will explore 'Flatpack Democracy', a local political movement that seeks to 'break the mould' of party-politics through the election of groups of independent councillors. We will reflect on the experiences the influence of this approach in shaping local environmental decision-making (including public engagement). We will also focus on what different stakeholders (e.g. local government, voters, citizens) can do to monitor and evaluate climate action in the context of climate and ecological emergencies and the incentives and tools required to do this effectively. The event will be informed by recent research carried out on the Flatpack 2021 National Campaign and a survey on stakeholder needs to monitor and evaluate climate and ecological emergencies. The session also aims to inform debates on the future of politics and placemaking in the context of post-Brexit and post-Covid recovery and renewal.

What’s it about?

The event will assess the role of local-level political innovations to accelerate learning and action within the context of environmental and planning policies (such as the Environment Bill, the 10 Point Plan, the Future Homes Standard and declarations of climate and ecological emergencies). It will also be a highly interactive event to reflect on and coproduce strategies for accountable climate governance where climate emergencies have been declared. Participants are invited to contribute to the development of a conceptual framework to capture needs and resources that maximise climate knowledge-sharing, suitable for different end-users, and critically appraise the utility of different tools to measure progress on local-level sustainability and political transitions. The issues raised by participants will be captured through a network analysis using the Participatory Systems Mapping tool (developed by researchers at the University of Surrey). The event will cover key issues that will be discussed by keynote speakers, with opportunities for participants to deep-dive on these in breakout rooms:

- An exploration of whether independent politics supports innovations in local politics and climate action, and the implications for mainstream party politics in environmental decision-making.

- Involving young people in climate decision-making - experiences from a Youth Mayor and the challenge and opportunities of younger people being heard and respected in local politics.

- Planning and the role of low-carbon, health and wellbeing policies, reconsidering ‘value’ in the planning system and the challenge of working to achieve these goals in practice at a local level.

- Tools and methods to communicate, monitor and evaluate progress towards environmental action at different scales and by different user groups and the role of technology in capturing and incentivising sustainable action.

- Plenary and how these issues can lead to a local action framework for effective sustainable action.

Who’s leading the event?

Dr. Amy Burnett, ESRC Post-doctoral Research Fellow, University of Surrey

Peter Macfadyen, author of Flatpack Democracy

Open to

Open to adults and young people

Of particular interest to

Of particular interest to those wanting to know more about alternative types of political approaches to stimulate radical local political transitions and tools for monitoring and evaluating sustainability at a local level. Local government, planning authorities, local councils, independent councillors, national media, community groups and anyone interested in local politics or the planning system.

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