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Local Initiatives

South East England Development Agency
In the South East, we are fortunate in having several organisations whose ethos is sustainable development, an improvement in the environment and social inclusion. One of these organisations is the South East England Development Agency (SEEDA).

To find out more about what SEEDA is doing for the southeast region of Britain, visit their website at www.seeda.co.uk

Hampshire Natural Resources Initiative
The Hampshire Natural Resources Initiative (HNRI) is devoted to encouraging the public and businesses alike to rethink their consumption of natural resources both renewable and non-renewable. At present their consumption is unsustainable. In our “throw away society” more consideration should be given to the environmental impacts of extracting the resources to make new things, and the effects of their disposal when no longer needed. There is a need for a change in mindset to encourage people to recycle their waste. Industry must do its part by not making it cheaper to throw something away rather than repair it.

These issues and many more can be found at www.hnri.co.uk

There are many suggestions about how you can keep up to date with newsletters and events in the region.

Taking Stock
“Taking Stock is a project to analyse resource flows and create an ecological footprint for the South East region”

This organisation is concerned with making the Southeast region of Britain as sustainable as possible, supporting such initiatives as renewable energies, recycling and getting businesses to reduce carbon emissions.

For more information and news of forthcoming events, visit www.takingstock.org

Agenda 21
Agenda 21 was one of the initiatives to come out of the Rio Earth Summit in 1992. It is an attempt to specify and clarify what actions need to be taken to balance economic and social development with environmental concerns. Achieving sustainable development is deemed to be a collaboration between all countries of the developed and developing world and sectors within those communities.

On a local level, Local Agenda 21 (LA21) is the application of the general principles of Agenda 21, but at a local, regional or national level. Local government in the UK has made great steps in achieving its commitment to the adoption of the principles laid out in LA21.

To find out how your local council is shaping up on LA21 issues, visit the Green Consumer Guide website at www.greenconsumerguide.com/la21/main.php

Ecological Footprint Studies
The ecological footprint aims to find out how much land we use as compared to how much we actually need. Local governments are now using ecological footprint studies to measure what is central to sustainable development. Measurements are made in hectares per person or per household.

On a national scale, the UK has an average household has an ecological footprint of between 5 and 6 hectares. What this means is that for an average house occupying an area of 100m2, its ecological garden would then occupy the land taken up by between 500 and 600 of its neighbours!

If all the world’s population had consumption patterns like us in the UK, we would need three extra planets to sustain ourselves. If everyone lived like the average American, we would need an extra four. We are clearly not living a sustainable lifestyle and there is much room for improvement. Wackernagel and Rees (1995) have estimated a sustainable level of consumption to be about two hectares.

If the area of land available is less than is required to support a person, this leads to the trading of land or resources, resulting in the need to import. This can lead to an imbalance where countries are growing food to supply other countries rather than their own. Sometimes the attraction of foreign exchange is seen as more important than self-sufficiency.

For more information on Ecological Footprinting read WWF’s document available as a PDF file at www.wwf-uk.org/filelibrary/pdf/ecologicalfootprints.pdf and a website devoted to the subject: www.ecologicalfootprint.com

If you are interested in measuring your own ecological footprint, you can download software (PC only, I’m afraid) from the Best Foot Forward website at www.bestfootforward.com/ecocal.htm

Alternatively, try the online quiz at www.earthday.net/footprint/index.asp

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