In the last week we’ve seen Westminster politicians running scared thinking they may lose out on the Scottish Referendum. While there’s been much campaigning north of the border I imagine it’s been more from the camp that’s pushing for independence. The no campaign, fearful of losing, have upped the ante. It’s like they’ve suddenly woken up. The heat is on.
The call for Scottish independence shows how nothing should be taken for granted and the importance of having a clear, concise and consistent communications campaign throughout. Not as you’re heading up the final straight.
The same could be said for issues in the environmental sector. We’ve yet to have a proper, unbiased debate on the pros and cons of fracking. At times it seems like it’s a done deal – fracking will resolve our energy supply and security problem, the price of fuel will reduce helping those facing energy poverty. It’s happened in the United States so we can emulate it over here.
But what about the real impacts fracking causes? The threats to the water courses, the geological infrastructure, do people on low incomes really benefit from cheaper fuel with no consequences? I’d like to see a real debate on these and other issues which I’ve yet to hear about.
And what about recycling and resource management? We have made great progress on increasing recycling from households but are now starting to plateau and are in danger of missing the 50% recycling target required under EU law. We need to re-evaluate to get people recycling more and more often. The Ur[bin] Issue, a recent consultation by Keep Britain Tidy, on improving urban recycling by working with communities highlighted some key points.
The research undertaken by online polls and citizen juries that met for two days in London and Manchester, found that a little knowledge goes a long way. But what was crucial was the need for a new and deeper public debate on the value of resources and waste. The study concluded that ‘people are not just disconnected from recycling, but also from the increasing resource challenges that threaten our society and economy’.
In a series of action plans the authors suggest all parties – national and local government, businesses, schools and the third sector – work together to communicate a consistent message. In particular we need to talk about resources, where they come from, where they go and what they become, to provide an understanding of how they can benefit the economy and society.
The report’s second action point was to continue to invest in communication. This isn’t the first time I’ve commented on this and I’m sure it won’t be the last. But short sightedness in this area is so detrimental to long-term aims and the benefits that result. In the last recession those companies that continued with communications and marketing budgets fared so much better when the economy improved than those that slashed and burned. We must ensure there’s funding to engage managing our resources, an area that is becoming increasingly integral to the economy.
Today sees the start of RWM, the biggest industry gathering for the resource management sector. The debates throughout the halls will be numerous and far-reaching. But we mustn’t forget those outside who play just as an important role in ensuring we develop a more resource efficient, circular economy.