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Environmental Sustainability

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What is it?

Environmental Sustainability is one of the two cross cutting themes encompassed in the ERDF Programme (the other being Equal Opportunities) to ensure that environmental respect is a fundamental feature of the West Midlands ERDF Programme.

Sustainable development and economic inclusion have been adopted as cross cutting themes and are detailed in Chapter 5 of the ERDF West Midlands Operational Programme 2007-2013 [1.7mB, PDF]. It states that “projects funded through the Programme will be expected to embed best practice in both themes as appropriate” (p.131).

The Environmental Sustainability theme objectives are to:

  • support sustainable production and consumption through targeted support of businesses, R&D, partnerships and projects
  • protect natural resources through the careful design of projects and programme support systems
  • support sustainable communities through packages of focused support the benefit people and localities as a means of creating greater economic wealth and advantages (p.133)

Under Priority Two, the actions include helping regional businesses to exploit the economic benefits of increased resource efficiency and facilitating investment in the development of low carbon technologies and services (p.134).

Under Priority Three – Sustainable Urban Development (SUD) – the actions include developing community-based low carbon initiatives, and ensuring that development optimises the use of previously developed land buildings and meets high standards of resource efficient design (p.134).

Sustainable Development

Sustainable Development is one of the two cross cutting themes embedded in the ESF Programme (the other being Gender Equality and Equal Opportunities), which incorporates environmental sustainability.

Under ESF, sustainable development can be promoted through the dual approach of:

  • Mainstreaming it into the delivery of all projects; and
  • Supporting specific actions (for example, providing training in environmental management).

To promote the cross cutting themes and to recognise those ESF providers who are leading the way in mainstreaming them, ESF Mainstreaming Leader National Awards were launched in summer 2010.

Section 3.19 Cross Cutting Themes in the ESF Guidance Manual 3 (version8) summarises ESF requirements for addressing and implementing cross cutting themes throughout the duration of the project.

Sustainable Development section on ESF Division website states that “the programme also has a strong emphasis on making sure that the environmental aspects of sustainable development are better integrated into delivery arrangements. Providers are expected to prepare sustainable development policies and implementation plans covering a range of environmental issues as described in the CFO [Co-Financing Organisation] guidance section of this website”.

The importance that ESF is putting on sustainable development is enhanced by Europe 2020 Strategy, which focuses on three priority areas – smart, sustainable and inclusive growth. The Guidelines for the employment policies of the Member States make a clear connection between the significance of addressing environmental challenges while building a resource-efficient, sustainable and competitive economy. Guideline 7 highlights that job creation should take place in all areas “including green employment”, while Guideline 8 education and training systems should be more responsive to the labour market needs.

WMEN workshops and guide

WMEN ran three workshops in CoventryShrewsbury and Hereford to environmental sustainability and sustainable development throughout the Third Sector and engage a broader range of organisations in addressing this issue.

To raise awareness about sustainable development and to help organisations understand better what actions they can take in order to comply with ESF Regulations, we produced a concise guide [58kB, PDF]. It explains what sustainable development is all about, provides information and useful tools and resources to help you implement the principles of sustainable development in all that you do.

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