'Go green or be left behind': How becoming an eco hub would boost city

Norwich shoppers on Gentleman's Walk. Picture: ANTONY KELLY

Experts have said that cities which are more sustainable will have more 'future-proof' economies - Credit: Archant

Norwich has been warned that if it does not go greener fast it will risk losing jobs, funding and skills in the near future.  

Ahead of the United Nation’s climate change conference kicking off in Glasgow this week experts from the environment to economics have warned that a lack of action will see the city left behind. 

It won’t just be the ice caps melting – detrimental changes will happen right here on Norwich’s doorstep.  

Professor Andrew Jordan sits on the University of East Anglia’s ClimateUEA board, and said: “Norwich needs to work out how to make a sustainable future work for the people here or it will risk being left behind.  

Prof. Andrew Jordan, professor of environmental policy at the Tyndall Centre, UEA

Prof. Andrew Jordan, professor of environmental policy at the Tyndall Centre, UEA - Credit: Submitted

“The conversation about climate change is already happening – we have seen a net zero strategy from government and there are climate assemblies happening across the country.  

“It would be wonderful if Norwich had the same and the public and policymakers had an opportunity to agree how we as a city make this work for us. 

“There is already an awareness that things need to change and when I talk to members of the public not just about the wider benefits to society, but also as individuals, I think it prompts further action.” 

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Prof Jordan, who works at the university’s climate research hub the Tyndall Centre, explained: “Individuals have a lot to gain, whether it’s cleaner air thanks to electric vehicles or warmer homes and reduced fuel poverty, as well as shielding against the risks they see on TV.” 

Valentine Quinio of think tank Centre for Cities added that if the city did not take action it will pose a threat to its future prosperity.  

Valentine Quinio of Centre for Cities

Valentine Quinio of Centre for Cities - Credit: Centre for Cities

She said: “Essentially the more sustainable a city’s economy is the more future-proof it is. That’s because we know greener businesses are going to thrive in the future because of the government’s agenda so it’s shoring-up a city’s success.  

“There is a tension in decarbonising and job loss and creation – some sectors like transport and construction might lose out because of the shift.  

“However - in the areas where we see the biggest shift we also see the largest job creation. We see the lowest level of those claiming benefits, the lowest levels of unskilled labour.”

Green agenda has already grown investment 

Dr Nick Goodwin, chief operating officer at Norwich Research Park, said: “Norwich Research Park is at the forefront of tackling some of the major global challenges facing us in relation to climate change on so many fronts – improving crop disease resistance and increasing yields, and finding sustainable solutions to mitigate the impacts of climate change - thanks to the investment made in the Park’s world-leading research institutes, university and university hospital as well as the successful businesses that have spun out of the work done here. 

Dr Nick Goodwin has taken on the newly-created role of chief operating officer at Anglia Innovation

Dr Nick Goodwin - Credit: Archant

“We already have around 12,000 people working here and plan to expand with new facilities to enable more innovative businesses to flourish. Norwich Research Park has big ambitions to continue to be a key contributor to the Norfolk economy and to offer significant employment prospects.  

“With Norfolk and Suffolk having been selected for inclusion in the Department for International Trade’s prestigious High Potential Opportunities (HPO) programme earlier this year, we have a very real opportunity now to tackle these global issues that will make Norfolk and the rest of the world a better, more sustainable place to live.”