Greenest County conference will show Suffolk at its environmental best
Some of the country’s leading experts on the environment and sustainability are due to gather in Ipswich next month for a celebration of the Suffolk Creating the Greenest County initiative’s 10th anniversary - and to lay the foundations for the next 10 years.
Suffolk’s aspiration to become the greenest county in the country remains as fervent as a ever - and a major conference that replaces its much-loved “green gong” awards scheme this year will amply illustrate the county’s commitment to be an environmental exemplar.
That was the message sounded loud and clear this week from the Creating the Greenest County initiative as it and its partner Anglia Water announced detailed plans for the conference to be held on October 20 at Trinity Park, Ipswich.
In previous years the wide-ranging green partnership hosted by Suffolk County Council has staged award ceremonies to honour the county’s environmental heroes and inspire others to follow the greenest paths possible. Glittering ceremonies have taken place at iconic venues such as Snape Maltings and The Apex in Bury St Edmunds, featuring inspirational and passionate keynote speakers including naturalist and broadcaster Chris Packham and Suffolk peer Lord Deben, who is chairman of the UK’s independent Committee on Climate Change.
By way of a change to mark the aspirational partnership’s 10th anniversary, the conference will bring together some of the country’s leading figures in the spheres of environmentalism and sustainability - and it’s a case of Steff stepping up to organise it.
Steff Jones, a member of Suffolk County Council’s environment strategy team is lead organiser for the event which is titled Enhancing Suffolk’s Environment in a Growing Economy.
“The event will be an exciting opportunity to look back over what Suffolk has achieved and, more importantly, to look to the future to determine what the Greenest County means in these changing times,” said Miss Jones.
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“The purpose of the conference is to bring key decision-makers and stakeholders together to celebrate 10 years of the Greenest County Awards and what has been done so far in working towards the Creating the Greenest County goals and the progress that’s been made, and also to shape local growth and sustainability in the future.
“The aspiration to be the greenest county is as strong as ever. Creating the Greenest County acts as an umbrella under which a great partnership of many organisations are striving to make Suffolk as green as it possibly can be. It is a brand that has lasted and it acts as a framework to do more and achieve more and to enthuse people to make environmental progress.”
The conference would also aim to share best practice and foster collaboration. “It will be aiming to help shape local growth that is sustainable and reflects our aspirations for Suffolk, and redefines the focus of the Greenest County partnership for the next 10 years, confirming strategic objectives and outline areas for action,” she said.
In addition to keynote speakers the conference would involve a series of workshops that would lay the foundations for future actions that could be taken, providing a valuable legacy from the event. The workshops would explore “inclusive growth”, “solving the Suffolk energy challenge” , “rural landscapes of the future” and “health and wellbeing.”
“By having these workshops we will be able to summarise what comes out of them and share it post-event. That will help us outline and identify what our priorities are going to be. We will be able to redefine our focus for the future and decide on areas of action,” added Miss Jones.
An impressive array of keynote speakers has been assembled for the conference.
They include Dr Alison Mowbray, who was a member of the GB rowing team for seven years and who competed in five world championships and two Olympic Games. She considered herself the “Unlikely Olympian” as she says she was a “sporting disaster” at school. However, her prowess culminated in a silver medal at the 2004 summer Olympics in Athens and she now works to inspire and help others achieve their dreams.
Conference speaker Ed Gillespie is a writer, communications specialist, entrepreneur and “futurist”. Among his many CV highlights is his co-founding of Futerra, a change agency that specialises in business transformation and creative communications and campaigns. Futerra has become internationally renowned for its influential and award-winning work on some of the world’s biggest corporate sustainability initiatives.
Also playing a key conference role will be Dr Chris Tuppen, a highly acclaimed and experienced sustainability strategist who, in 2008, was named by a special Guardian newspaper panel of prominent environmental figures as one of the 50 people who could save the planet from climatic disaster.
Dr David Pencheon is another high-powered keynote speaker. He is director of the Sustainable Development Unit for NHS England and Public Health England.
Other leading figures who will be prominent conference participants include Tim Breitmeyer, who is president of the CLA, Doug Field, who is chairman of the New Anglia Local Enterprise,Sue Roper, assistant director of strategic development at Suffolk County Council and Creating the Greenest County chairman David Barker.
Mr Barker said the initiative’s aspiration, after ten years, was “as strong as ever.”
He added: “We are taking this opportunity to hold a celebratory conference to mark 10 years of the Greenest County Partnership and to redefine our focus for the future. The county’s commitment to environmental achievement is highlighted through the dedication and enthusiasm of Suffolk’s businesses, communities, schools and individuals - many of whom are volunteers - which is helping to turn our aspirations into reality. I look forward to the conference and to the future of the Greenest County initiative with great excitement.”
The conference is being presented in partnership with Anglian Water and is supported by the East of England Co-op, Barnes Construction, Invest in Suffolk, the Suffolk Waste Partnership, BEE Anglia and the East Anglian Daily Times.
For more information about the event, contact Miss Jones at Steff.Jones@suffolk.gov.uk