A major conference about how Manchester can adapt to climate change has been postponed at very short notice. The final “Ecocities” conference was due to take place on December 6-7, but an email sent on November 23 announced a delay to “early in 2012.”
Ecocities is a collaboration between University of Manchester, Manchester City Council and the property company Bruntwood. The purpose is to generate an “adaptation blueprint” for Greater Manchester, so that people, buildings and organisations are prepared for the drier summers and the warmer wetter winters that are coming.
Dr Jeremy Carter. of University of Manchester’s School of Environment and Development, told MCFly the decision was taken “by an advisory group which includes representatives from the University, Bruntwood and the City Council” and that financial considerations were not an issue. Manchester City Council referred questions to Ecocities, and Bruntwood had not replied at time of going to press.
Ecocities had also launched a short film contest, inviting current and recent students of several Manchester-located universities to submit a 5 minute entry around the topic “Preparing Greater Manchester for Climate Change.” Entries closed on November 20. The winning entry was to have been shown at the conference. At time of going to press, MCFly has not yet heard how many entries were submitted and whether the winning entries will be posted before the delayed conference takes place, next year.
This is really disappointing. The first two Ecocities conferences were – within their limits – very useful indeed. Ecocities is precisely the sort of collaboration between academcs, policy-makers and business that cities like Manchester will need. Yes, it never really developed links with community and voluntary groups, (see final paragraph of MCFly’s mid-way conference story), but Ecocities is hardly alone in that, and the potential was there.
A three or four month delay is not a catastrophe, but the manner of the announcement – shortly before the conference was due to happen – is not one that would inspire confidence in a cynic. Still, at least an announcement was made, in contrast with the Steering Group’s continuing silence on the subject of the postponed Annual (cough cough) Stakeholder conference.
The organisers took the decision “take advantage of an opportunity to to develop a collaborative conference with Greater Manchester stakeholders ” By the time they made their decision, however, they really had no choice. To organise a conference for December, the venue, agenda and invitations have to surely be sent out by mid-September. MCFly can’t speak to the venue and agenda, but invitations certainly were not circulated.
Watch this space.