Summary written by Annika Hjelmskog, Research Associate for Glasgow's City Portrait
Glasgow’s participation in the Thriving Cities Initiative is now fully underway! We are excited to share some photos and early insights from the first City Portrait workshop, which was held with Glasgow City Council staff on 25 April 2022.
The event marked an important milestone in the well-established ‘town and gown’ partnership between the City and the University of Glasgow, building on the priorities identified during the Green Recovery Dialogues, as well as laying some groundwork for the new £10.2 million NERC-funded GALLANT strategic research programme. We are continuing to work together on the social and climate justice agenda, to identify and trial innovative solutions to deliver more sustainable living.
Policy Officers from across a large number of Council departments joined the University of Glasgow and C40 Cities research team to explore what ‘Thriving’ would mean for the City of Glasgow. We looked at the City from distinct but interconnected perspectives on social and ecological wellbeing, and reflected on Glasgow’s local context and global reach.
These social-ecological/local-global perspectives make up the ‘four lenses’ of a City Portrait (shown below). During the workshop we were fortunate to benefit from the expertise of city staff working across a large range of policy sectors, who helped us start answering that crucial Portrait question:
'How can Glasgow be a home to thriving people, in a thriving place, while respecting the wellbeing of all people and the health of the whole planet?'
Below are just a few of the issues and ideas that the groups discussed in relation to a thriving Glasgow. The discussions focussed on some of the existing challenges, strengths and opportunities for Glasgow to improve its contribution to human and planetary wellbeing.
The groups discussed what thriving would look like in the context of each lens individually, as well as mapping some of the connections, relationships, and interdependencies between the lenses. It is early in the project to fully understand such complex interactions, but these dynamics will become clearer as we continue this series of workshops with communities and other stakeholders. The data will also be analysed through GALLANT over the next five years.
We identified several examples of how actions or decisions taken locally could lead to positive impacts across the other lenses, to maximise their co-benefits. On the other hand, there were many discussions about how certain actions could lead to unintended or unforeseen harms if not carefully thought through, taking into account the perspective of all four lenses.
For example, balancing the need for cheap school uniforms with the cost of cheap school uniforms. School uniforms can work as social equalisers for children from different socioeconomic backgrounds. However, adding several items of clothing to a child’s wardrobe (when they might otherwise just wear their existing clothes) has an additional material and laundry footprint. Initiatives such as “school uniform banks” might encourage more circular practices, and better recycling and reuse of clothing that children quickly grow out of, but we still need to look closely at the supply chains and resource use that is associated with school uniform mass production.
Throughout the workshop, a rich, detailed view of how Glasgow might look as a Thriving City really began to take shape!
The Glasgow City Portrait will be developed over the coming months and an initial version will be published in early 2023. It will include an assessment of how well we are currently meeting our aspirations, as well as identify action points, policy levers and helpful indicators that will lead us closer to our thriving vision. You can follow our work on Glasgow City Portrait here.
The City Portrait will be built through a combination of desk-based research and collaborative, interactive events. As Glasgow continues its work on sustainable solutions, the City Portrait will evolve, and provide a tool to both steer and record the City’s transformation.
We are planning a number of introductory and follow-up workshops throughout 2022 with stakeholders and communities across the city. If you would like more information, or to get involved in the process, please contact our project manager Petra Baiba Olehno.
To find out more about GALLANT and the Centre for Sustainable Solutions, follow this link.
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