It brought together those leading on sustainability in metro mayor city regions. The session was under Chatham House rules, which allowed attendees to openly share their trials, tribulations and new ideas for embedding sustainability in city region administrations. But keeping that confidentiality doesn’t prevent us from sharing a few reflections from the day.
The politics of a metro mayor working to establish their own agenda and work programme over and above the local authorities that make up their city region are complex and rife with sensitivities. So the question of how a city region can add value on sustainability, rather than duplicate local authority activity and step on toes in the process, was a central one for discussion.
Engineering productive partnerships and convening stakeholders across their city region to accelerate the low carbon transition came out very strongly as a key role for metro mayors. One city region shared a strong partnership approach which draws in pro bono support for low carbon activity from local businesses, as well as linking to their university and Local Enterprise partnerships. The scale of city regions and potential impact makes it an attractive one for businesses large and small to engage with.
With funding tight, local authorities are increasingly adept at leveraging the expertise and energy of their local academic and private sectors, with the Leeds Climate Change Commission a great example of this. And the practical delivery of things like air quality measures, transport initiatives and planning decisions still largely rests with local authorities. So creating momentum by getting the right people together to explore how more could be done, was seen as a clear area in which mayors could add value.