– steps towards localisation for sustainability in the West Midlands
Extending Localisation was a project to identify ways to extend economic localisation good practice around and beyond the West Midlands region in 2008-9.
By analysing good localisation practice around the region and the roadblocks to turning excellent pilots into a regional norm, the project aims to identify the policy changes and local support mechanisms required to ensure this happens. The Extending Localisation project will include recommendations for local, regional and national government, support agencies, businesses, communities and NGOs. The main sectors focused on are energy, food, retailing, finance and manufacturing.
Localise WM will use the material resulting from this study with sustainability and education groups, and local and regional decision makers. We will also use it for productive regional linkages and for global collaboration with similar organisations in other countries, and to direct the future work of LWM.
In 2008-9 a short exploratory report was produced to generate discussion and action and this is available at the links below.
Since that time we have been working, when funding permitted, on further research into these areas of the economy.
The retail section is now completed (as of September 2010), as is a special additional section on football ownership and finance, as part of the finance section. An introduction to the project is also linked below. The food, overarching and manufacturing sections should also be available in the next two months.
We welcome suggestions and discussion about the issues and recommendations within this work:
- Do you think there are other recommendations we can draw from the trends and examples given, or from your own experience?
- Are there any more useful case studies of localised economic activity you can point us to?
- Is there anything you disagree with? or are there inaccuracies in the trends and examples?
- What else might you need to support or implement positive localised economic activity?
- What further work should we do to build a case for greater policy attention to localisation?
The earlier exploratory reports are available at the links below in PDF or webpage versions.
Extending Localisation exploratory report
This is the first, outline report of Localise West Midlands’s Extending Localisation project, a practical response to the challenges of climate change, diminishing natural resources and erratic global financial markets.
‘Localisation’ is our shorthand for an approach that prioritises sourcing local materials, selling to local markets, local circulation of money, and creating localised employment where it is needed.
Governments and others understand that such mechanisms ‘tick’ all sorts of policy objective ‘boxes’, but do not see that the sum of these ticks makes clear evidence for a wholesale change of approach. This project takes the need for that change of approach as a starting point.
Essentially the project involves analysing good localisation practice around the region to identify the policy conflicts and roadblocks to turning excellent pilots into a regional norm, and the policy changes and local support mechanisms that will be required.
There is a new immediacy to this agenda: climate change and the end of the cheap oil and food era have been radically changing perceptions of what makes a good model of economic development. More recently the financial crisis and ensuing recession are bringing many to the realisation that the trends of ever-larger institutions and ever-faster-moving capital have been driven more by ideology and, arguably, greed, than by evidence of public benefit. We need to ask more questions of the policy conflicts that prevent us from resolving these issues.
This work is about a direction of travel and a practical, evidenced approach, not about ideology; and there is no set boundary for ‘local’ – it simply means aiming for the nearest available source that meets one’s requirements. We have also included some activities that support localisation good practice in other areas and countries: the West Midlands is where we can effect change, but we share responsibility for our impacts on local economic welfare across the world.
Following responses to this initial report we will further research local experience within the region and produce more detailed recommendations for all actors in economic activity, from regional policymakers to those running local businesses. Some of these will be ideas that can be implemented now; others will require significant political commitment and change.
These are the impacts we can effect through a localisation approach:
- reducing inefficiencies of long-distance transportation of goods, services and raw materials;
- reducing impacts of business travel and commuting;
- loss of local distinctiveness and area character;
- empowerment through local ownership of businesses and local accountability;
- maintaining a fairer balance in the relative power of producers, suppliers and consumers within the supply chain, encouraging diversity and healthy competition amongst businesses;
- the potential for local knowledge to reduce the need for regulation;
- local circulation of money adding value into a community;
- social capital and the value of community trade;
- more local material flows reducing the wasting of materials;
- avoiding the instability of rapidly fluctuating global markets and its impacts on people and communities;
- trade as a tool for redistribution shaped to benefit communities, locally through to globally.
The links below take you to a webpage of each sector covered in this project.
Extending Localisation has been funded by the Polden Puckham Charitable Foundation, who prioritise work that develops alternatives to current economic and social structures in order to tackle the underlying pressures leading towards global environmental breakdown.