Gosh, how time flies. As I approach the six-month mark of my tenure at Bioregional and custodianship of our brilliant One Planet Cities project, I thought now was a good time to reflect on what we’ve achieved so far.

Since 2017, we have been working with partners in four regions, Saanich (Canada), Elsinore (Denmark), Durban (South Africa) and Oxfordshire (UK), to help them use our One Planet Living®framework. With our help, these regions have created ambitious sustainability action plans known as ‘One Planet Action Plans’, taking a collaborative approach to local sustainable change.

I could list a myriad of exciting developments and string of new stakeholders, but two highlights stand out for me.

A One Planet Island?

Over on Vancouver Island in Canada, our partner One Earth has done an amazing job bringing together organisations in Saanich to create their own One Planet Action Plans to make the local area a better place to live – including five schools, seven community groups and several local businesses.

When I spoke to Cora Hallsworth from One Earth recently, she remarked: “We’ve mobilized a constellation of people who are exploring ways to advance sustainability within their organisations and personal lives. The One Planet Living framework is helping them make meaningful contributions to the most significant sustainability challenges in our community. This also helps build resilience, which is essential as we deal with the pandemic, and recover afterwards.”

To pull out just one example, Mount Douglas Secondary School is using One Planet Saanich initiative as a foundation for a new Environmental Leadership Programme to engage students and educators alike in environmental issues.

And Saanich is not stopping there – One Earth and other local stakeholders want this to be an island-wide initiative.

Happily, the Mayor of Saanich, Fred Haynes, has an ambitious vision for creating this One Planet Island: using it to “encourage [other] municipal governments to engage their citizens in reducing their ecological footprint”.

Cora says: “This regional expansion will enable us to identify even more opportunities to collaborate and make progress towards our One Planet Living goals.”

This desire to influence wider change and share learning is the kind of leadership we need to see, and I eagerly anticipate the next steps of this fantastic idea.

Teaming up in Oxfordshire

Back on our side of the pond, there’s real enthusiasm for collaboration in Oxfordshire. As part of our growing One Planet Oxfordshire initiative, a community centre, a school, a church and a low-carbon group are combining forces to make sustainable change in their community.

Lizzie Couves from the Rose Hill Community Centre notes how exciting this collaboration is: “Not only has the One Planet Cities initiative helped us use the One Planet Living framework to reduce our environmental impact, it’s also brought us closer to other local organisations working to do the same.

We now have a ‘One Planet Living partnership’ where we will share skills and ideas to achieve aims for each of the ten One Planet Living principles for our whole community.”

As with our friends in Canada, their ambition knows no bounds. Keen to become one of the country's first zero-carbon communities, the partnership are putting plans in place for a localised energy grid and community allotment schemes.

To me, this highly ambitious linking up of local organisations is what One Planet Living is all about; finding ways to work together as a community to achieve our sustainability goals.

These achievements, and many more in the project, aren’t down to my ability as a project manager, but to the amazing people in all the organisations involved. Our four regional partners are highly dedicated and driven to create change in their areas – I salute them all.

Join the One Planet Living movement

Hundreds of cities and municipalities across the planet are now grappling with how to respond to the climate and ecological emergency, including how to engage their citizens throughout the process in an inclusive, collaborative way.

Our One Planet Cities project has been doing exactly that. And looking at what we’ve jointly achieved in just six months I’m really excited for what’s to come in the remaining months of the project.

If you work for a city or municipality, and you’re interested in our work – please do get in touch using the form below or check out our new One Planet Action service for local authorities.

Photo credit: Sina Korcan

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