The Edinburgh Centre for Carbon Innovation (ECCI) was invited to conduct an audit for Edinburgh City Council following a report to Council in June. Professor Andy Kerr presented findings at Committee and a further report will be tabled at the next Corporate Policy and Strategy meeting proposing how the council will respond to the recommendations.
The report identified that City of Edinburgh Council has an unprecedented opportunity to set Edinburgh on a course that will deliver rapid improvements in social and economic wellbeing for its citizens, as well as meeting stretching climate and environmental targets. This could put Edinburgh at the forefront of global cities.
It is clear that the Council faces a choice about whether it wants incremental improvements in outcomes, which build on existing resources, good practice and more joined up internal efforts across service areas, or whether it wants to drive an ambitious agenda that capitalises on the opportunity for enhancing social, economic and environmental wellbeing in the city. This is a scenario faced by many of Scotland's cities and local authorities and the lessons learned in Edinburgh can be applied elsewhere. The ambitous option means setting iconic targets, opening up third party investment and developing radical new partnerships with external partners to support delivery.
The recommendations will play a key role in helping the city achieve its vision for Scotland’s capital to become an ‘inspired, connected, fair and thriving city’ by 2050. The council launched Edinburgh’s City Vision for 2050 in Autumn 2016 - the first major conversation about the future of a city and a society in a generation, inviting Edinburgh to talk about its aspirations, plans, and concerns.
Andy Kerr, ECCI Director, said:
“Delivering on climate targets isn’t just about cutting carbon – it’s the best way to create vibrant and liveable cities with strong economic growth."
To deliver a more ambitious sustainability agenda, recommendations are that the Council needs to (a) recognise and embed the social, economic, environmental opportunity that exists from setting and delivering challenging sustainability goals, and (b) address five broad areas:
- Vision and Strategy: Develop a clear over-arching vision and strategy for sustainable development, with iconic goals for the city and clear staging points in 2030 and 2040 towards the 2050 City Vision.
- Leadership and Governance: Political and corporate leadership is paramount, recognising the opportunities that can be realised for the city and Council. New and more effective governance and strategic coordination of sustainability is required in the Council, with senior management held to account for delivery.
- Internal Resources, Capacity and Skills: Properly resourced strategic coordination of sustainability is required, along with a need to refresh skillsets and mechanisms by which the city accesses external finance and develops projects needed to deliver City ambitions.
- Finance and Investment: Third party finance will be required to unlock opportunities. There is a need to refresh delivery mechanisms (such as the Edinburgh ESCo.). While there are excellent inhouse skills and experience in legal, financial and technical areas, the council needs to improve its capacity to develop, deliver and scale investable projects which deliver multiple social, economic and environmental benefits to the city.