Developing a green local economy

4th June 2015.

Concern for the environment has grown in recent years, particularly as evidence of climate change has emerged, and the acknowledgment of human contributions to this crisis. Successive governments have lurched between going green and protecting traditional industry. Policies that favour environmental concerns are often viewed as bad for business, with the associated tariffs and legislation considered a barrier to business success. However, greening our local economy can act as an opportunity to create stronger more sustainable local economies. The environment plays a crucial role in enabling communities to live a healthy lifestyle, and it is well known that green space and access to nature has a positive role to play in ensuring better mental health.

These factors, alongside the beauty of green space and the cost effectiveness of sustainable business practices pull new residents, visitors and businesses into an area, increasing inward investment.  In contrast an unattractive, congested, and polluted environment can act as a serious disincentive and discourage businesses, visitors and potential new residents from moving to an area, whilst having negative economic, physical and well-being impacts on those currently living and working there.

Economic growth and the natural environment can therefore be mutually compatible, for example sustainable practice and technology create a number of opportunities for new green jobs and skills within a local economy.

With all of this considered, it is important that progressive local economic development looks to embed environmental considerations into the decision making process and recognise it both as a community asset and a right.

This CLES 10 provides guidance for the fundamental principles that individual towns and cities can adopt to develop a greener local economy. This can be defined as an economy that aims to reduce environmental risks and ecological scarcities, and that aims for sustainable development without degrading the environment.