Yes, there are no less than three meetings this week where issues raised by or discussed with Steady State Manchester will be considered by Manchester City Council’s Overview and Scrutiny Committees.
1) On Wednesday 4th March, 2014, at 2pm, Neighbourhoods Scrutiny will take the report of the Environmental Sustainability Working group. This work followed the discussions at Economy scrutiny on Steady State Economics and Climate Change in June 2012 and June 2013 respectively.
We are broadly happy with the report, having had a chance to contribute to both the discussions of the working group and the draft. We didn’t expect this report to advocate the abandonment of the growth-centred strategy of the council and its city-region. However it does acknowledge that not all growth is good, and recommends that the Community Strategy review what good growth would look like. While our position remains that growth of the economy overall is not feasible – it is already in excess of our share of the capacity of the planet to deal with its consequences – we have been clear throughout that a re-balancing and re-localising of the economy will involve growth of some sectors (and reduction of others).
2) On Wednesday 5th March at 10.00 it is the turn of Economy Scrutiny Committee to consider the report. This is the body that initiated this working group. We think the important ‘take-away’ for this body is to agree that there is a necessary alignment between environmental, social and economic well-being. This means that rather than seeing environment as a separate set of issues (and measures), it needs to be understood as integral (encompassing) the economic and social agendas. For this reason we are pleased to see that the report recommends a more integrated approach to monitoring and measuring well-being – that might ultimately replace the flawed and distorting focus on GDP/GVA.
3) Finally, on Thursday 6th March at 10.00, Finance Scrutiny meets. On the agenda is the second part of the response to our letter of last September requesting an ethical review of the council’s investment strategy. We are not happy with the report which is dismissive of the possibility of introducing ethical considerations into the management of investments where the council has a stake, especially the very large Greater Manchester Pension Fund.
This does not seem to consider recent thinking and research on the legal and moral responsibilities of fund trustees and managers and we will be putting this over in the discussion.
Helpfully, the details of all these (public) meetings and links to the papers, together with directions for finding them have been put together on the Mcr Climate Monthly website HERE. Maybe we’ll see you there.
Meanwhile,here is the list of SSM recommendations to council from may, 2013 with our (subjective) assessment of what has been done by both the council and us.