Our response to the SODC Core Strategy (Oct 2010)
Sustainable Cholsey launch (Sep 2010)
Report from Copenhagen by SusWal Member, Sue Roberts: Dec 2009
It is tricky to see how the Copenhagen climate conference can organise the world to a new future when the United Nations made such a hash of organising the conference. I came to Copenhagen with Dr Richard Harding, Director Designate of Climate Research at the Wallingford-based Centre for Ecology and Hydrology. As one of only a handful of British scientists attending this vital summit, he presented European Union research on water resources in Africa.
But his diverse audience, including members of the World Bank, African Ministers, and civil rights non-governmental organisations nearly missed out. Richard queued with a couple of thousand other accredited attendees for hours in freezing conditions through Monday14th Dec; there were after all 45,000 delegates and space at the Bella Conference Centre for only 15,000.
After 4 hours with no movement, Richard spotted a dynamic Dutchman haranguing the guards and recognised Pavel Kabat, Head of Climate Research in Holland and one of the other 5 speakers in Richard’s own session. Pavel got them into the centre, this time, but found himself unable to gain admittance the following day. We could only hope that Pavel would get in on the Thursday, to be a part of the three-strong scientific panel in discussion with President Obama; indeed, would the President himself get past the Danish guard?
I had a much better time of it at the People’s KlimateForum, where I went to gather tips for Sustainable Wallingford. I made contact with Transition Towns of Totnes, whose techniques have spread widely. So widely, in fact, that we had already come across a Transition Towns Leader on the train from Esbjerg: Barbarina from Vermont was attending on behalf of the largest US evironmental group, the Natural Resources Defence Council.
But more exciting than the well-organised talks at the People’s Forum was the incredible diversity of people: a true Viking of an Icelander berating the violence of the Danish police who had arrested 900 people on the Saturday march of 100,000, in a ‘precautionary’ action; a French captain and boat-builder, who was switching from servicing rich clients to putting up solar panels; and the inevitable floaty-voiced yoga teacher who was certain that the world would be saved if we all practiced yoga daily.
Al Gore addressed the summit and also gave a presentation at the Danish Film Insitute, followed by a hugely depressing film on the destruction of the Indonesian rainforest for timber, paper and ultimately to grow palm oil, leaving orangutans clinging to single stark denuded trees in a wilderness of palmoil plantations. Seven and a half million hectares have been cleared and planted up, and another 14 million hectares are planned. Indigenous forest peoples have lost their ways of life and hundreds of conflicts have developed.
Archbishop Desmond Tutu gave a rousing speech on Sunday morning, his purple robes flowing as he danced and giggled, and called for a legally binding agreement on climate change. He was joined on-stage by the chief negotiator for the UN, Yvo De Boer. De Boer has been through the mill – two years ago at the Bali conference he broke down in tears after 72 hours of locked-in negotiations had failed to reach a new agreement.
Two years on and so much more is at stake: we were shown film of individuals from countries already affected by climate change: a young Chinese woman whose town had been destroyed in 20 seconds by a cyclone, a Kenyan farmer suffering from years of drought, a Peruvian whose town was washed away in a mudslide, and a report on the high suicide rate for Australian farmers after 8 years of drought in the Murray-Darling basin. Not to mention the catastrophic floods in Cumbria…
An OSCA for Fir Tree Garden project (October 2006)
Sustainable Wallingford’s work on the Fir Tree School Vegetable Garden was a winner at the Oxfordshire Sustainability and Conservation Awards in October 2006.
The awards, organised by Oxfordshire County Council, recognise schools, community groups and businesses that have taken action for the environment. Our project was joint first prize winner in the biodiversity and grounds development category, sharing the £1000 prize with Hurst Water Meadow, a wildlife haven near Wallingford which is used for recreation and learning by the local community.
Sam Settle, who co-ordinates the project, said: Visitors to the garden have always said what a great project it is – timely, important, practical, involving many parts of the community – and it is nice to have that confirmed with the award. We grew over 550 lbs of vegetables for the school this year, 98% of which was used by the school. The equivalent Waitrose value of organic veg works out to around £740. Of course there is another value, inestimable, of the children working in the garden, learning about sustainability, and having lessons centred on processes and elements of the garden.