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SDC Hosts Session on Community Investment

18 October 2010

SDC community investment session. Photo: Cynnal Cymru - Sustain WalesThere is great enthusiasm in communities across the country for projects which embrace sustainable development, most notably in the field of renewable energy. There are also many challenges facing the groups running these projects, so the SDC decided to tackle ‘community investment’ as the topic for its roundtable session at the Cynnal Cymru – Sustain Wales AGM in Cardiff.

Twenty participants, including representatives of the Assembly Government, community enterprises and public bodies discussed ‘A growing role for communities in sustainable investment’ in a session led by the Head of SDC Wales, Stephen Brooks.

The group considered two key questions:

What are the barriers to expanding the role of ‘community investment’ in sustainable development?

What is the potential for community investment to expand using new public sector policies such as the Green Investment Bank and Salix financing?

From the discussion, some main themes emerged. These included:

  • Proper engagement is important but time consuming and labour intensive. There is a need to conduct a stakeholder analysis and build community cohesion. Successful projects demonstrate an over-riding community benefit.
  • Communities sometimes lack capacity or capability to manage investment. There is also no shortage of cohesive communities that simply need support. Good human capital is important – skilled people – is also important. A possible role of government is to help develop these skills.
  • Town and Community Councils are well placed to act but they sometimes lack capacity/capability. There is a cost to making them fit for purpose and there is potential for them to work together.
  • Social justice - Money that comes in could be divisive, depending on how it is allocated. Need to keep an eye on addressing climate change not making social sustainability worse.
  • Barriers to investors – There are examples of projects not paying out dividends as the focus is on getting the money in – there is a need to sort this out at the beginning.

The findings will be sent to the Assembly Government by Cynnal Cymru, along with those of other sessions held on the day.

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