16th August 2019
On 6 August the BID were delighted to welcome Jonathon Porritt, world famous environmentalist, writer and speaker, into the Linen Quarter. At a packed public event, attended by 550 people, Jonathon outlined some of the fundamental decisions we need to make in order to build a more sustainable Belfast. These include decisions around transport, food production, energy, waste and the circular economy. A detailed account of the event, which was sponsored by Queen’s University, Belfast City Council, ISL Waste Management and ARUP, can be found here:
Earlier that day Jonathon met with a panel of 40 expert practitioners, chaired by Belfast Resilience Commissioner Grainia Long. The group debated the circular economy, renewable energy, and sustainable transport. Key considerations from the round-table will be used to inform the forthcoming City Resilience Strategy.
Jonathon ended his visit to Belfast with an organic food demonstration at James St South. This was followed by a dinner attended by business leaders, concluding with a call to action to create a more sustainable city.
So, what are the implications for the Linen Quarter itself?
First there is an issue around positioning. We are a diverse business district and many of our members, from consulting companies to engineering firms, and from government Departments to small hospitality companies, are actively working within the sustainability space. By organising these events, the Linen Quarter BID is making a clear statement: we are an outward looking business community and we are at the forefront of the global debate.
Second, it provides a platform to inspire action across three domains: government, business and the individual. To support this the BID will work at a strategic level alongside partners at Queen’s University and Belfast City Council to help inform the £3.5 million Place Based Action Climate Network and the City Resilience Strategy. Within the district we will continue to promote the ISL waste management service; with additional projects to support our sustainable agenda being rolled out in the Autumn.
Third, the event lends weight to some of the proposals set out in our 2019 Regeneration Vision. This includes building an Ormeau Avenue Greenway, constructing new public squares and social spaces, encouraging high quality City Centre residential development, and improving air quality.
There may be some who still regard sustainability as a side issue and an unwelcome cost. They could not be more wrong. It is an issue that needs to be front and centre of every business strategy: it is what our customers want, what our employees and partners want, and what our city deserves and demands. Transitioning to a low carbon economy and a more sustainable Belfast will not be easy, but the social, economic and environmental rationale is compelling. It is now our duty as business leaders to deliver.