Sustainability and economic regeneration: making it happen on the ground
Having outlined in Chapter 4 the general themes and principles that need to be considered when attempting to generate sustainable local and regional economies, this chapter turns to more specific examples of initiatives that have been developed in response to the sustainability agenda. Such lists of projects and policies are frequently used in the environmental literature as a means to celebrate and publicise individual initiatives, as well as indicating what can be achieved in often-difficult circumstances. There is room for the celebration of the possible – it can be argued that we need ‘the self-conscious development of economic and ecological alternatives within this public sphere or “new commons” – alternatives such as green cities, pollution-free production, biologically diversified forms of silviculture and agriculture, and so on’ (O’Connor, 1994: 172). However, while this chapter also provides details of particular projects and policies from a variety of locations, the intention here is to see these as potential elements of an overarching strategy for local and regional sustainable development. The argument is that such individual initiatives must be located within a broader framework of purposive policy action at the local and regional scales, as elements of a broader shift towards an economy based upon sustainable development. We have already explored the bases for such policy action in some detail within Chapter 4. In line with the basic tenets of sustainable development, it can be argued that such local and regional policy to integrate economic and environmental issues needs to have three main components (Roberts, 1995). These are:
• An economic component: the search for new forms of economic activity and types of business organisation that demonstrate a high degree of consideration for the environmental consequences of their operations and which attempt to minimise harmful impacts.