|Martin Gettings, Group Director Sustainability, Canary Wharf Group
“One of the most inspirational forward-looking meetings ever to take place in Galway in the modern era was recently organised by the Galway National Park City initiative for the benefit of the councillors and officials of Galway City Council. Chaired by Micheál Ó Cinnéide, ex director of the Environmental Protection Agency(EPA) , and formally launched by Mayor Colette Connolly, presentations were made from an array of world renowned London-based developers as well as a senior official at Cardiff City Council; the chief executive of World Urban Parks and former senior government official in Australia; a former European Union official recently involved in the development of the Green Deal; and the founder of the London National Park City. All these experienced and highly respected individuals spoke of their support of the ‘National Park City’ designation and the benefits that it could bring Galway. In a week when governments, businesses and civil society are coming together at COP26 in order to tackle the interconnected crises of Climate Chaos, biodiversity loss and pandemics which are the defining characteristics of our age, it is recognised that the main battlefront in this war to save the planet lies not in the shrinking tropical forests, the melting ice-caps or the vast expanse of the warming oceans but rather in the cities where over 50% of the human population now live. For cities consume over two-thirds of the world's energy and account for more than 70% of global CO2 emissions. And it is coastal cities such as Galway that are most at risk from the devastating impact of global warming, such as rising sea levels and powerful seaborne sto
UN secretary-general Antonio Guterres warned that we are still on track for a climate catastrophe of apocalyptic proportions as there is a huge gap in leadership on tackling the crisis.
The Galway National Park City initiative could play a part in overcoming this serious deficit. It principles are available at www.galwaynationalparkcity.com. It represents a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to harness the fantastic range of talents and world class expertise found amongst the stakeholders of our great city, to reimagine our urban landscape, and to be a leader and a role model for other Irish cities to emulate. But time is our enemy in this fast changing world. Galway City Council must now grasp the opportunity that it is being presented to it by a coalition of champions drawn from education, business, scientific research, technology, architecture, arts, youth, health and community interests and to follow the lead of national, regional and local governments stretching from Cardiff to Adelaide in supporting this new and inspirational designation.”
-Brendan Smith, convenor, Galway National Park City initiative
Extracts from the speakers presentations
“The National Park City is a positive vision for the future that can bring people together to make life better in cities… with nine out of ten Londoners supporting it…(it is) not a reward for what is already there but a challenge and incentive for coming up with a plan for current and future initiatives…to share best practice with other cities across the world… a reference for inspiring development and is part of the Mayor Sadiq Khan’s environment strategy to make London 50% green…people have been working for decades to make the city greener, healthier, wilder, to get more people out of doors but the National Park City status is about joining up and connecting everyone from local residents to developers towards shaping a new identity for London and Londoners to have our city known not just as a cultural or financial centre but also as an ecological centre where 15,000 species live and nearly half the city is physically green and blue.”
- Daniel Raven-Ellison, founder of the London National Park City
“Quintain develops and invests in property in the UK and Ireland, most famous for our 85 acre site at Wembley Park and previously Greenwich Peninsula. We look at the National Park City as a positive thing and an asset…(it is) about development that creates new natural landscapes… helping to link new green spaces with existing green spaces in North West London…Key aspect of the London National Park City is in connecting peoples…creating new greener and wilder spaces and championing them…In the National Park City “Developers’ Forum”, we have other developers that are like-minded and abide by the same principles.”
-Julian Tollast, Head of Masterplanning and Design, Quintain
“Fabrix is a property investment and development business, specialising in bringing value to underutilised and overlooked urban spaces. Through a fresh approach to finance, technology, and architecture, Fabrix is pioneering a highly flexible model of urban development….We combine the highest standards of design and environmental performance to create healthy, desirable spaces that are future-proofed for the ever-changing urban landscape…COVID has brought into focus the need for healthy workspaces…including (the) introduction or re-introduction of nature into the urban landscape…National Park City Developers’ Forum is helping to have the principles of making city greener, healthier and wilder happen…the National Park City principles were never seen as a hindrance, in fact the principles have guided us (and) ensured that our plans have received a high level of support from…investors… residents, business and community organisations.”
-Matthew Weaver, Corporate Investment Manager, Fabrix
“Sectorlight works predominately with developers but also…connecting people with places in a meaningful way be it in a home, office building or in the neighbourhood of a city…noticed a huge enthusiasm amongst our clients for the National Park City movement…public mindset has changed due to lockdowns. Connecting to outdoor green space and to nature has become much more important…months of lockdown has fuelled demands for more green spaces in built environment…developers across all sectors (are) now interested like never before in greener and healthier spaces for a way of…attracting new talent and…engaging their audiences…our clients…interested now in what is happening not only with their own buildings but also in the wider area in the public realm….We are working with entire districts to entice people back… (there is an increased) drive to create more attractive, more engaged public spaces… a demand for green and blue spaces that bring people together to enhance wellbeing…People do not want their environment to be grey and dull, they want green, blue and vibrant public and private spaces that work for nature as well as for people.”
-Natasha Zlobec, Creative Director, Sectorlight and strategic advisor to the Developers’ Forum of the London National Park City.
“At AECOM, we believe infrastructure creates opportunities for everyone – uplifting communities, improving access and sustaining our planet…The National Park City movement is not a signal to the world that we are restricting development… (rather it) provides a framework for providing higher quality development…it is (about) greener, healthier liveable climate-resilient cities…While it may be a challenge to the ‘development community’ as a whole, (nevertheless) it is one that we need to rise too.”
-Michael Henderson, Director of Sustainability, AECOM Europe.
“The National Park City Developers’ Forum has allowed developers to
come together to share their experiences…Developers have seen that making a
place greener, healthier and wilder can be an incredible catalyst to making
places more liveable. ‘Development’ and National Park City principles…are very
much linked…Investors from sustainable investments funds …such as pension
funds...are wanting to invest in greener projects.
The Forum is about developers working outside their red line boundaries, about getting developers with plots of land beside each other to speak to each other and (develop greenways and green connections)…The growing Sustainable Finance Investment landscape is a huge opportunity for Galway through the Galway National Park City to get the best investment for your city.”
-Emily Hamilton, head of Environment Protection, Social Responsibility and Corporate Governance (ESG) at Savills Investment, and co-founder of the Developers’ Forum of the London National Park City
“I have a background in government, in creating partnership models and (being a) world commissioner on protected areas. The question for Galway and for all of us is ‘Do you lead or do you follow?’…It was not government that created the ‘national park’ (idea) but an individual with a vision. There was no legislative basis for it. So why would you do it? … For the value that nature gives us in our health (is) obvious…in the 1980s national parks started to occur in cities…they were a community-driven process…I was involved in the ‘healthy parks, healthy people’ initiative… but what has shifted now is the move towards a true partnership (between governments and)…communities…enabling and empowering them”
-Neil McCarthy, Chief Executive Officer of World Urban Parks
“In the last 30 years we at the Canary Wharf Group have transformed this east end site into Europe's largest ever regeneration project… We recently became the UK’s largest sustainable developer due to the fact that we have delivered over 11,000,000 million square feet of sustainably certified floorspace; have not sent any waste to landfill from our managed areas for over a decade; use only renewable electricity; are committed to net zero carbon by 2030; and are close to nature with the first developer-led Biodiversity Action Plan in the UK (2004)… we have supported the bid for London National Park City status since day 1!...The pandemic for all its ills has has had the effect of galvanising our resilience and heightened our understanding that, when it comes to global challenges, we stand as one. It has started to re-forge our relationship with the built environment. People are starting to realise, more and more, the effects that ‘place’ can have, not only on their own health and wellbeing, but on local and global ecosystems…To tackle ‘Sustainable Development Goals’ we need ‘Sustainable Development Action’. And we have aligned our strategy with the sustainability development goals (SDGs)…All of this means that we can now raise green finance based on our existing green portfolio and our future plans…We see the aims of the National Park City as in absolute alignment with this. In fact it underpins this and gives a purpose for delivering the SDGs and a mandate for Green Finance and Social Bonds.
Is National Park City status a barrier to development? No! It’s the opposite. It’s an enabler!!
When a city has National Park City status it drives quality planning and development which takes into account the needs of all its residents, large and small
We use the equation, more biodiversity = more green space = more nature = more happy people = more attraction = more investment, and so on…
A city with a National Park City status helps create the conditions for places, people and nature to thrive. We truly believe that the… collaborative…culture that built Canary Wharf is the same that we need to address the climate and biodiversity crises…We’ve entered (an era) where climate action, wellbeing and resource use aren’t just another problem, they are going to be the reason we’re all in business.”
Martin Gettings, Group Director Sustainability, Canary Wharf Group
“The Green Deal is the first time that the environment is at the top of European Union’s agenda and at the heart of economic development...its lynchpin is the Climate Law agreed by all governments in June 2021. 75% of the EU’s population live in cities. So anything that works -new ideas and new approaches - in a city on environmental and climate change can help all of us…The EU’s new City Action is “to support, promote, and showcase 100 cities in their systematic transformation towards climate neutrality and to make these cities into experimentation and innovation hubs for all cities. ” It is about how sustainability needs a transformation of our mind set but also the direct engagement of its citizens …bringing people together from all walks of life and enables them to inspire and learn from each other and how they can act as volunteer climate change ambassadors. This is what the Galway National Park City (is all about)…it is a movement from the ground up of committed people, volunteers who are engaged…in the green transition…it clearly fits into the EU Green Deal because it is really where citizens are trying to create a green deal, a local green deal for Galway…it is direct evidence of citizen engagement,
If the Galway National Park City was recognised in the Development Plan by Galway City Council, I would feel that it would be a hook to apply for EU funding because it is a (true) recognition and evidence of citizen engagement…”
-Kathryn Tierney, ex official at Directorate General Environment of the European Commission and a policy coordinator for the European ‘Green Deal’
“Cardiff Council passed a motion in January to support the development of a National Park City for Cardiff..it has widespread endorsement from all the political parties… Cardiff is one of the greenest cities in the UK and wants to be a carbon neutral city by 2030…Community engagement is critical for the council and the council sees the National Park Movement as a tool for engaging with a wide range of stakeholders…council wants to be a faciliator for the movment. The council is experiencing budget reductions but we don’t feel that we will be hostages to fortune and are committed to building the momentum, the campaign and in achieving the status of National Park City.
-Jonathan Maidment, Head of Parks & Harbour Authority, Cardiff Council