Tuesday, November 29, 2011

Sowing the Seeds - Reconnecting London's Children with Nature

Research and Reports

The LSDC has written and commissioned research on issues that are critical to London. You can find our recent publications below. 

Sowing the Seeds - Reconnecting London's Children with Nature

London is known as a green city - approximately two-thirds of its area is defined as green space and many sites are rich in wildlife.  Much work is underway to protect and develop this, most notably through the Mayor's Great Outdoors Strategy, the London Plan which seeks to address deficiencies in line with the Mayor's Biodiversity Strategy,  and through partnerships such as the Green Grid, that seek to increase green space provision, and quality, at a local level.  Through these, the provision of the resource has been the primary focus. More recently, for example through the Health Inequalities Strategy, the focus has shifted to the benefits of increasing the level and type of use.
Previous research has suggested that a child's contact with nature is particularly important.  Natural environments are said to have restorative qualities that help in relaxing and coping with everyday stress.  They are claimed to promote adaptive processes in child development (for instance motor fitness, physical competence and self-confidence).  They are said to support learning and education. Finally, it is claimed that spending time as a child in green outdoor environments nurtures lifelong positive attitudes about nature and the wider environment.  Maximising young people's contact, and the quality of that contact, with nature in the city is therefore fundamental.  Children under the age of 12 were taken as the focus for this research.
The purposes of the research, commissioned from writer and researcher Tim Gill, are to:
. Summarise the benefits experienced by society from increasing the opportunity for children under the age of 12 to experience nature;
. Identify the most successful interventions to encourage regular access to nature amongst children under the age of 12, and make policy recommendations to facilitate this in the mainstream;
. Support the move of current thinking beyond provision of natural spaces, to focus on actual use of natural spaces;
. Develop alternative metrics that may accurately measure access to nature amongst children under the age of 12. 

The Report was launched at City Hall on 17 November 2011. The Recommendations in the Report will be taken forward by a time limited Steering Group made up of representatives from relevant sectors and co-ordinated by the LSDC.

If you would like to know more about the Steering Group please contact lsdc@london.gov.uk.

Income Inequalities

Income Inequalities
In 2010 the London Sustainable Development Commission (LSDC) commissioned a piece of research by Professors Richard Wilkinson and Kate Pickett to further debate around the multifaceted and long-term issue of income inequalities.
Based on a similar methodology to their book, 'The Spirit Level: Why More Equal Societies Almost Always Do Better', the work examines the cause and potential effects of income inequalities in London and implications for sustainable development.  It argues that income inequality is bad not just for those at the bottom of the income scale, but also for society as a whole.  The work opened up the debate on the cause and potential effects of income inequalities in London and the LSDC has been keen to hear all sides before drawing its own conclusions.
It is now clear from recent academic debate that there are differing opinions on the link between income inequalities and the social problems as set out within the Spirit Level.  A summary of the debate can be found here.  This documents the RSA event which brought together Kate Pickett and Richard Wilkinson with Peter Saunders (author of the Policy Exchange report Beware False Prophets: Equality, the Good Society and The Spirit Level) and Christopher Snowden (author of The Spirit Level Delusion) to debate the methodology and conclusions of The Spirit Level.
Notwithstanding the ongoing debate about the link between income inequality and social problems, the LSDC feels that the underlying issues affecting London's most poor remain an issue. The LSDC will therefore continue to advocate for action in support of tackling these issues and improving quality of life for all Londoners. 

The impact of income inequalities on sustainable development in London [PDF 3.6MB]
The impact of income inequalities on sustainable development in London [RTF 247KB]
Correction to figure 24

Sustainable development at the strategic level

Sustainable development at the strategic level
Capital Consumption: the transition to sustainable consumption and production in London - December, 2009
This timely report from the LSDC and BioRegional, published in the run up to climate negotiations in Copenhagen, examines the full extent of London's carbon dioxide emissions when including those from imported goods consumed in London. The report also illustrates how adopting measures to reduce consumption based carbon emissions could also help create jobs, build a more resilient economy and benefit the health and social well-being of Londoners.

Capital Consumption [PDF 5.5MB]
Capital Consumption [RTF 240KB]