London’s deputy mayor for policy and planning Edward Lister has officially launched this year’s GreenSkyThinking - the week-long, must-attend sustainability showcase
Lister told an audience of more than 120 ‘green’ construction professionals at City Hall this morning that ‘the agenda for improving green infrastructure [was] not just about greening itself but also using it to solve London’s hard economic challenges’.
Launching the event, which begins in earnest next week (22 April), Lister added that London succeeded in attracting global investment because people wanted to live in the capital for all the ‘soft’ reasons - because ‘it’s a green and pleasant city’.
While extolling the capital’s virtues, he highlighted the infrastructure and affordable housing challenges which face the city and stated that the funding gap to implement the London Infrastructure Plan 2050 was ‘enormous’. Lister cited six major ‘energy deficiency areas’ across the capital which require £50 million each ‘to put right’ and said that an ‘innovation working group’ was currently exploring new financing solutions.
On the affordable housing crisis, Lister explained that the GLA had identified brownfield sites which could accommodate 450,000 new homes without encroaching on the green belt.
The key message of the launch was that ‘business as usual’ would not solve London’s infrastructure challenges. Jo Negrini of Croydon Council estimated that while the borough needed more than £800 million of investment to unlock its potential, it had recently been awarded £7 million and was looking to establish its own development company for housing to retain developer profit inhouse.
James Cameron, chairman of the Overseas Development Institute ( founder and non-executive chairman of Climate Change Capital until earlier this year) noted that hospital and school estates should be part of planning to make London fit for a resilient future.
To celebrate its 5th year, Green Sky Thinking launched the Commit5 Campaign http://www.greenskythinking.org.uk/commit5/index.html, challenging participants to reach beyond their professional silos and learn from ‘adjacent’ experts. Green Sky seminar participants next week will be asked to commit 5 hours in 2015 to cross-sector knowledge exchange.