On Friday 7th April the candidates will be invited to answer questions from the public about their environmental priorities. The event will be chaired by Peter Braithwaite, Director of Sustainability at the University of Birmingham and Chair of Sustainability West Midlands, with Georgia Stokes, the CEO of The Wildlife Trust for Birmingham and the Black Country.
The new mayor will have powers over land use, housing, transportation, skills and investment in infrastructure. The natural environment is a vital net contributor to the economy, health and wellbeing for both rural and urban communities.
The people of the West Midlands care about the natural environment. Membership of nature conservation organisations is rising and the numbers of people involved with their local parks, wildlife and nature events are reaching peak levels. Over half a million people took part in the Great Garden Bird Watch at the end of January and large employers are seeking programmes that connect their employees with nature conservation to prevent absenteeism from mental health conditions and to increase productivity.
The candidates will be presented with a 25 year Natural Capital Vision supported by The Wildlife Trust for Birmingham and the Black Country, Warwickshire Wildlife Trust, Midlands Environmental Business Company, Warwickshire and Coventry Local Nature Partnership and the Birmingham and the Black Country Local Nature Partnership. They will be asked to pledge their support – and then follow it through if they become the first Mayor for the West Midlands Combined Authority.
The evening will end with the candidates being asked to sign the #WMPledge4Nature and the audience voting for who they think would be the most environmentally aware mayor, based on the debate.
Peter Braithwaite, Chair, said:
‘The first West Midlands Metro Mayor will set the priorities for all our futures, that’s why it is vital whoever wins the election understands the importance of nature to our health and well-being and the subsequent gains to business and the economy.’
Georgia Stokes, Chair, said:
‘The Wildlife Trust for Birmingham and the Black Country recognises that when nature does well, we all do well. We look forward to working with the new mayor to make sure the contribution of the natural environment will be central to spatial planning and policy going forward.’
Thanks to Birmingham City University and Birmingham City Council for supporting this event.