Wednesday, 4 February 2009
Welsh creativity offers optimism in midst of economic downturn, say business leaders, politicians and experts
The advent of the global financial crisis led Cynnal Cymru–Sustain Wales to challenge business leaders, politicians and sustainable development experts to consider how Wales should respond to the considerable challenges that the economic downturn presents.
Contributors to the 'Defining a Sustainable Economic Future for Wales' anthology express concern for the country's economy, ecology and society and question the compatibility of economic growth with a sustainable and equitable future.
In his essay, 'Not easy being green?' Owen Evans from Business in the Community writes:
"Whilst the private sector delivers the wealth and tax revenues that drive and support the Welsh economy, it is also responsible for 40% of carbon emissions and so is having to address two major issues – economic prosperity and minimising its impact on the environment."
Options proposed by the authors for creating a sustainable economic future emphasise Wales' natural resources and the creativity and innovation of its people.
Bill Thomas, general manager at Sharp Manufacturing UK, based near Wrexham, writes:
"On a planet that has an estimated 54 billion tonnes of oil equivalent in wind power and countless times that in solar capacity, Wales has the land and shorelines and innovative skills to complement this with biomass and tidal power."
Leader of the Welsh Liberal Democrats, Kirsty Williams A.M., believes that the credit crunch creates an opportunity for change:
"It must be a catalyst for the development of a new green economy, which will stimulate our marketplace with jobs and businesses that benefit the environment.
"Going green is an economic opportunity."
Victoria Winckler from Wales' social justice think tank, the Bevan Foundation, shares that view. "The recession is an ideal time to re-skill and up-skill," she says.
As the impact of the financial situation is felt across Wales, it is timely that the Welsh Assembly Government's draft Green Jobs Strategy and the new Sustainable Development Scheme, 'One Wales: One Planet,' have been released for public consultation.
The Green Jobs Strategy aims to ensure that businesses in Wales have access to expert advice and technology, making their operations more efficient in an increasingly carbon constrained economy. The new Sustainable Development Scheme, One Wales: One Planet, aims to put sustainable development at the heart of all of the Government's policies.
Helen Nelson, Director of Cynnal Cymru-Sustain Wales, said:
"The damage and uncertainty caused by the economic crisis presents a need for us all to evaluate the way we live and do business.
"We hope the solutions presented in our essay series, from a broad range of contributors, will give pause for thought and make a contribution to Wales' transformation into a sustainable, equitable and prosperous country."
'Defining a Sustainable Economic Future for Wales' will be launched today (4 Feb) at an event in the Senedd, where some of the authors will take part in a panel debate on Wales' economic future. Former government minister, Sue Essex, will chair the debate. At the same event, an essay competition for university students will be launched on the same topic. The winner will receive free training and a year's membership from the Centre for Alternative Technology.
Download Defining a Sustainable Economic Future for Wales - Collected Essays.