Month: July 2019

Green Infrastructure

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Home to over half of the planet’s population, urban areas are responsible for a significant proportion of global greenhouse gas emissions.

What is green infrastructure and why is it important?

Green infrastructure is defined as a “planned network of natural and semi-natural areas with other environmental features designed and managed to deliver a wide range of ecosystem services”. This term incorporates a huge variety of different ecosystems from parks, playing fields and woodlands to community gardens, green roofs and street planters. These spaces facilitate physical activity, relaxation and can be a refuge from the noisy city. Green spaces help to foster biodiversity and provide safe routes for people walking and cycling through the city thus contributing positively to population health. In fact, estimates show that physical inactivity, linked to poor walkability and lack of access to recreational areas, accounts for 3.3% of global deaths.

There is robust evidence to support the claim that green space has a positive impact on people’s wellbeing with features such as parks, rivers and trees creating more liveable and pleasing urban environments. Research has shown that having access to green space can reduce health inequalities, improve well-being and aid in the treatment of mental illness.

Importantly, green spaces also help to regulate the impacts of harmful emissions in the city. Trees absorb carbon dioxide and help to filter out harmful pollution while urban waterways such as lakes, rivers or even fountains moderate temperature and together with vegetation, play a vital role in cooling cities. In some areas, it has been estimated that evapotranspiration (the process of converting water in leaves to water vapor which is then transpired through the trees) can reduce peak summer temperatures by 5°C. Additionally, green spaces provide areas where runoff interception can occur, thus reducing the likelihood of flooding, an issue particularly pertinent to Scotland where winter rainfall is expected to increase between 10-35% in some areas.

Supporting the development of green infrastructure is becoming an even more prominent part of urban policymaking across the world. From street planters to citizen gardening, the following section describes a couple of examples  in which local authorities in Scotland are helping to create healthier, greener cities. Read the rest of this entry »

Coordinated support for child poverty

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The Scottish Government announced it was bringing forward a new Scottish Child Payment, worth £10 per week per eligible child under six, with the aim of lifting 30,000 children out of poverty by 2023-24. COSLA welcomed the news. In addition, a new Access to Childcare Fund will establish new projects across Scotland to deliver more affordable out-of-school care for low income families over a two-year period starting in April 2020.

Funding has also been confirmed for councils and charities to give children from low income families meals and a place to play during the school holidays. Community Food Initiatives North East (CFINE) will deliver this ‘Food and Fun’ programme locally working in partnership with Aberdeen City Council, AFC Community Trust, Sport Aberdeen and others. (Source: Scot Gov)

 

Embedding kindness

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Kindness, as one aspect of the human condition, is attracting increasing levels of attention from within the policy world. And at first glance, it’s not immediately apparent why. It seems a somewhat alien concept to consider alongside the usual suspects of organisational efficiency, professionalism, regulation and accountability. Carnegie UK have been working with a range of folk interested in embedding kindness within their organisation and in particular with North Ayrshire Council to explore the implications across the entire local authority. Turns out kindness could be a game-changer.

In March 2018, the Carnegie UK Trust brought together a Kindness Innovation Network of people and professionals from across Scotland who had an interest in encouraging kindness in their organisations and communities. At the same time, the Trust began working in partnership with North Ayrshire Council to embed kindness as a value throughout the local authority and region.

The two projects were collaborative and the report reflects a wide range of views and activities from hundreds of people across Scotland. The Practice of Kindness brings together practical examples of things that can be done to create the conditions for kindness. However, it also highlights the barriers to relationships within organisations, and posits kindness as a radical concept that demands challenging the systems and structures – including risk and regulation, professionalism, and performance management – that currently govern our institutions.

To read the full report, visit https://d1ssu070pg2v9i.cloudfront.net/pex/carnegie_uk_trust/2019/06/25090227/Practice-of-Kindness-Report-WEB.pdf