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Time to raise our game: 19 ways to make the UK more sustainable

Breakthroughs various images 1 July 2009

  • Sustainable Development Commission unveils its Breakthroughs for the 21st Century at London event with Anna Ford, Jonathan Dimbleby and Rosie Boycott
  • Cap and Share, Algae, Incredible Edible Communities, and the Royal Bank of Sustainability praised as potential Breakthroughs
  • HRH the Prince of Wales makes special visit to meet the teams behind the ideas

The Sustainable Development Commission will today (1 July 2009) unveil 19 Breakthrough ideas which could transform the UK into a sustainable society, at an event attended by HRH the Prince of Wales.

The SDC's Breakthroughs for the 21st Century project sets out to identify the ideas which could make the biggest impact on Britain’s efforts to tackle climate change, resource depletion and inequality. Almost 300 ideas were submitted by the public, businesses, academics, and sustainability professionals of which 19 were selected by SDC Commissioners as potential Breakthroughs.

The 19 individuals and groups behind the final selection will showcase their ideas at today’s conference, hosted by Anna Ford, Jonathan Dimbleby and Rosie Boycott, where they will be paid a special visit by HRH the Prince of Wales. 400 high-level community, business, public service and Government representatives will be present to discuss how to make the ideas a national reality.

Among the 19 final ideas selected as representing potential Breakthroughs are:

  • Incredible Edible Communities – a project pioneered in Todmorden, West Yorkshire, to increase the amount of local food grown and eaten within the community
  • The Royal Bank of Sustainability – Transforming the bank most closely associated with the oil and gas industry – now publicly owned – into one which invest in projects to halt the effects of climate change
  • Algae and carbon capture – using fast-growing algae to absorb the CO2 given off by the industrial burning of fossil fuels
  • Outdoor experiences for all children in the UK – reversing the trend of children growing up with no access to the natural environment, to increase their health, confidence and well-being, and their understanding of the relationship between their choices and the world around them
  • Making cycling mainstream – Making the bike the normal choice for journeys of up to five miles
  • Cap and Share –Suppliers of fossil fuels to buy permits for their greenhouse gas emissions before selling the fuel, with the proceeds shared between all citizens, who have the choice of whether or not to sell their permits
  • Mobilising collective action – scaling up the active networks and organisations for change blossoming around the UK, including the Transition Towns network, Green Voice, and South London’s Project Dirt
  • From 'Pre-Pay' to 'Pay-As-You-Save' – Financing home energy efficiency measures through an innovative system where householders pay for improvements through consequent energy savings.

SDC Chair Jonathon Porritt said:

"Progress on sustainable development, at the national level, has been slow. Yet all over the country, there are people taking action to make their own communities more sustainable, driving forward technological innovations, and pushing the policy agenda with really big ideas.

"Some of the Breakthrough ideas we’ve selected represent cutting-edge innovation and imagination; others are familiar but powerful ideas whose time has come. We wanted to celebrate the hard work behind these ideas, and start a bigger conversation about how the UK can best take these – and a host of other great ideas – forward. We’ve been talking about it for long enough. What we’ve got to do now is make it happen."

» Download Breakthroughs for the 21st Century

» Where we are now: A support document for Breakthroughs for the 21st Century


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