That “Stakeholder” “Conference” – first report #manchester #climate #acertainfuture #acretinfuture

There was a casual air about the event. Steve Connor said we were looking at ‘How to deliver the Plan’, but no one did, really. It was more a question – yes, you’ve guessed – of rallying speeches and over-burdened & inconclusive workshop sessions.

Richard Leese celebrated ‘stakeholder involvement’ as a distinguishing characteristic of Manchester: A Certain Future. But there are serious issues about the capacity of the Steering Group to function. So the jury’s out on that, then.

The man from Liverpool told us it’s all happening off-shore, in the Irish Sea, with £18 billion invested in wind farms by 2030. Not much about Liverpool itself, though.

But the main feeling from the day is that this was – once again – a comfortable corporate event for professionals making a living in the low carbon world, mainly men (of course), well-intentioned, some fruitful conversations on the edges of the event, but in real terms not going anywhere

The workshops combined being too broad and ill-focused with being unhelpfully compartmentalised (‘Transport’, ‘Culture’?). I’d be intrigued if anyone could write up a report from the workshops which identified any significant contribution to the theme ‘How do we deliver the Plan?’. And did we really have to play with plasticine, glitter, coloured shapes, and pipe cleaners to produce our workshop ‘vision’? Dreadful. And someone told me he’d run into turbulence mentioning the Airport – well, you would, wouldn’t you?

What shouted out was that voices from the neighbourhoods and communities of Manchester were missing (again). This process simply does not touch the overwhelming majority of people in this city. It is invisible. We are encouraged as participants to feel that we are the evangelists, and that we can change the world. We can’t. On this evidence I’m not convinced that Manchester’s climate change action plan is going anywhere.

In a sense you don’t want to go to these meetings, but you can’t not go.  Perhaps I feel more critical about the meeting than some because no one was paying me to be there. It makes a difference – I really don’t like wasting my time.

David Mottram is the secretary of Manchester Green Party, but the opinions expressed are his own, and do not constitute Manchester Green Party’s position

Editor’s note. We did chuckle at the phrase “you can’t not go.” We MCFly editors were, of course, banned from attending – with no reason ever given by the individual who took (or merely passed on?) that decision. For that reason and many many others (which we will mention soon), we say “so much for ‘stakeholder engagement.'”

About manchesterclimatemonthly

Was print format from 2012 to 13. Now web only. All things climate and resilience in (Greater) Manchester.
This entry was posted in Climate Change Action Plan, Manchester City Council and tagged , . Bookmark the permalink.

4 Responses to That “Stakeholder” “Conference” – first report #manchester #climate #acertainfuture #acretinfuture

  1. Steve says:

    My first stakeholder conference. Thoughts:

    Good things about the event:
    – Wide range of stakeholders present, from activists, corporates, academics, local authority
    – Event felt exciting, like a critical mass of people were there
    – Small tables presented opportunity for discussion
    – Nice, light venue with a great view!
    – Facilitating creative methods of discussion such as using art materials – I liked this!

    Bad things about the event:
    – A basic lack of clarity around what MACF (and therefore the event) is about; policy development, co-ordination of delivery, strategy, economic development agency? Why were we there?
    – Quite long presentations from Leeds/Liverpool which were basically economic development adverts, only relevant to development agencies and large corporates
    – Some key issues not tackled: growth versus steady state, the importance of air travel, the role/consent of communities in low carbon development, the controversy of waste to energy
    – Event flet short and a little rushed
    – Wasn’t sure who was on the steering group: a number of people from the group seemed to be absent?

    It’s important that the city’s climate change agenda is owned by civil society, that all kinds of stakeholders are involved in strategy and delivery. The process that led to the creation of the plan felt exciting, innovative and genuinely democratic. It feels that MACF is still needed and wanted and that enough people will turn out to get behind it but it lacks that initial dynamism and participatory feel and a basic clarity around a role. Without a clear membership or structure it is hard to understand how it can be engaged with and influenced by those that want to get involved.

    In future: open it up, get people involved, take some risks, be prepared for it to be messy and awkward, embrace difficult questions and hard decisions. We need this to work.

  2. Plasticine is the new medium that so-called intellectuals use nowadays, http://www.made.org.uk/people/profile/david_rudlin/ (URBED) was contacting workshops with students using plasticine in Ancoats recently.

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