In the autumn of 2018, the Norwich 2040 City Vision was launched. It is a vision for the city to help make Norwich the best place to be by 2040. This was the result of a collaborative exercise and extensive consultation shaped by the council, voluntary organisations, community groups, businesses and residents.
The Norwich 2040 City Vision identifies five themes:
A Liveable City
The city takes pride in being the place with a great local environment that people value. We are committed to shifting to clean energy by 2040 (carbon neutral by 2050). We will support and promote sustainable living –where today’s citizens meet the needs of the present without compromising future generations.
A Fair City
Norwich is a place where many already enjoy a great quality of life. By 2040, the health, wellbeing and life chances of all of our citizens will be improved. We will remove barriers to achievement and a high standard of living will be enjoyed by everyone.
A Connected City
At the heart of any good city is how well it connects with both its citizens, and the world at large. In 2040, Norwich will have a modern transport system, be at the forefront of digital connectivity and create opportunities for all residents to link with each other.
A Dynamic City
Today Norwich has two successful universities and thriving sciences, creative tech, leisure and retail sectors. In 2040, Norwich will be a place where entrepreneurs, social enterprises, national and global companies choose to provide good jobs, prosperity and success.
A Creative City
Norwich is a place where culture and creativity play an important part in how the city feels about itself and how others perceive it. In 2040, Norwich will be world-renowned for its creativity – a leader in innovation, culture, education and invention.
The city’s 2040 City Vision, under its liveable city theme, reflects the more recent and ambitious goal set by the Committee on Climate Change of achieving “carbon neutrality” by 2050. The 2040 City Vision also commits Norwich to shifting to clean energy by 2040.
Developing the new strategy: Norwich City Council’s Corporate plan
The council’s new Corporate Plan has been shaped to respond to the most uncertain period in our city’s history since the end of the Second World War, over 70 years ago.
There are a number of different factors at play. The first is the unresolved issue of how we exit the European Union, and on what terms. The second: the impact on the council’s budget after a decade of continuous cuts in central government funding (over 60 per cent since 2010), in conjunction with a lack of clarity about whether this funding trajectory will change or continue. The third: longer-term changes that will confront us in the next two decades; among which are climate change, automation, demographic shifts and galloping inequality.
Covid-19 and the city’s response through ongoing work, new programmes, policies and partnerships will also present new unexpected challenges and potentially some new opportunities to reinforce our sustainability objectives.
The council’s Covid-19 recovery plan highlights actions which support progress on the green economy and climate change. As the council and the city look towards recovery, there is an opportunity to build on these existing approaches by incorporating opportunities to support and extend the behavioural change that the pandemic has initiated, such as decreased road traffic.
The council also has the opportunity to use its ongoing place-making activity and other investment to support recovery to drive growth in the local green economy. This could be taken forward by, for example, encouraging and supporting sustainable travel infrastructure and enhancing biodiversity of council estates, parks and open spaces. This could also include identifying further opportunities to reduce waste and enhance the circular economy locally.
Finally, this year’s corporate plan has been developed in the context of the work around shaping the Norwich 2040 vision, and how the council has reshaped its key priorities around three themes:
- Great neighbourhoods, housing and local environment
- Inclusive (good) growth
- People living well
Norwich recognises that action on climate change is a fundamental part of achieving the city’s 2040 vision and objectives. Taking urgent action to become a zero-carbon city, starting in 2020, will achieve benefits for residents and businesses in Norwich up to 2040 and beyond. To help us accomplish this, we propose to work with our partners to mobilise residents, businesses and all stakeholders to take action on climate change and resource use. We will invite all organisations that work in the city to be part of our collective ambition in supporting our 2040 vision.
Fig 2: City vision and mission
Within this framework, the purpose of this environmental strategy is to set out in more detail the council’s environmental vision and priorities for the city for the next five years and how they will be achieved.
It guides all the environmental work programmed to be carried out by the council between 2020 and 2025. This work is conveyed in greater detail in service plans and other council plans, and those of partners and contractors. This is summarised in the diagram below:
Fig 3: Framework for Environmental Strategy
Developing the new strategy: Data, discussion and consultations
The new environmental strategy has been developed through the following methods:
- Analysis and assessment of targets on the current environmental position in Norwich
- Review of the wider policy and legal context
- Review of the best available national datasets
- Review of the best available local datasets
- Review of external funding opportunities
- Workshops and input from expert stakeholders including the Tyndall Centre for Climate Change Research and the Carbon Disclosure Project
- Review of existing activities and future opportunities across services and contractors
- Discussions and input from elected members, including across services and contractors
- Discussions and input from elected members (including cabinet) and an all-member Tyndall/UEA workshop
- Assessment of the resources the council will have in the future to carry out environmental work
- Commentary from various external stakeholders, including any relevant government agencies
- Meetings with local action groups such as XR (Extinction Rebellion) and CHAIN (Climate Hope Action in Norfolk)
- An extensive public consultation
Developing the strategy: Responding to feedback
In addition to the feedback of partners, contractors and other local governmental bodies, the council undertook a public consultation exercise to elicit views on the council’s fourth environmental strategy.
There was a high level of ambition for the city to continue to reduce emissions and become more sustainable. However, some of the ideas expressed via the consultation were outside the remit of the council, and would need others to investigate their possibility.
Norwich has a two-tier local government system, with the county council taking responsibility of services such as transport, social services and education. In addition to this, the Greater Norwich Area (which many regard as the city) includes suburbs beyond the city boundaries: these are covered by two other local authorities (Broadland and South Norfolk). Responsibilities here include planning and waste collection.
The action plan highlights how different tiers of government can work together to deliver change via partnership working. Where possible, councils can work together in collaboration to facilitate positive changes. This work is delivered via a number of different forums such as the Greater Norwich Development Partnership (GNDP), New Anglia Local Enterprise Partnership (LEP), emergency planning and various other local officer groups such as the Climate Change Partnership and wider all-stakeholder partnerships such as the City Vision. Via these groups, Norwich City Council will try to influence improvements to environmental sustainability, as highlighted by the consultation.
We hope that we can work in partnership with our citizens and businesses to continue to reduce emissions; and that they can, in turn, encourage others to understand that these choices can have wider economic, environmental and social benefits.
A number of respondents referenced the climate emergency and the targets set out within the strategy. The council has formally recognised the climate emergency and will continue to build on the achievements already delivered. We will continue to drive down emissions within the services we operate, as well as developing programmes to reduce domestic and commercial emissions within the city.
Comments were also made on the city council hosting a citizen’s assembly. In 2011 the council commissioned an independent climate change committee to shape and inform our environmental policies. This event, chaired by our Sheriff Professor Tim O’Riordan OBE, invited numerous stakeholders to attend, including environmental NGO’s such as Transition Norwich. We will therefore add any outcomes from the current national debate, to outcomes already discussed from this valuable exercise in shaping our future policy directions.
The council does recognise that we can do more, and we will be calling on central government to provide the appropriate resources in order that we can better achieve our decarbonisation pathways.