Author: Wendy Corbett

Wendy Corbett, BA (Hons), MA, Dip. Digital Designer and Associate Lecturer in Design and Creative Media at the University of Worcester.

Is Leadership for Sustainability possible in a market economy?

This debate is worth listening to. It made a refreshing change to hear some honesty and courage as panel members tackled the questions raised which included present corporate and personal value systems. Each brought a unique perspective, knowledge and experience to the debate. These people are specialists in their field, they are serious about change and they are courageous enough to say it as it is and to publicly question the ethics of some organisations.

The central theme for the debate “Is Leadership for Sustainability possible in a market economy?”

Questions were raised around ethics and the breakdown of a capitalist economy. Siva Sabaratnam shared Barclays new framework based around a client focussed, socially useful bank. Victor Adebowale reminded us that banking is a public service and that Barclays had ‘an appalling, shocking, service record’ and questioned any framework based on words and called for demonstrable evidence. Victor raised issues about ‘moral hazards’ in banking and why people will lose their homes when interest rates rise. This good humoured but frank exchange was a great start to set the tone for the remainder of the debate. Carolyn Roberts opened up the question of ‘what is a good leader? ‘, offered some surprising examples and noted the Aldersgate Group as a possible exemplar. Bill Scott asked ‘how can we help the market economy that we’re stuck in to evolve to make leadership for sustainability possible?’. Kynton Swingle added the student perspective and pointed frankly to the fact that leaders ‘dictate to students – and have a reputation of not doing what they say’. Dan Goss supported this view with points about social justice and green washing. The ethics of Coca-Cola were discussed in the context of its sustainability agenda amidst a marketing model of selling sugary, water based drinks.

The debate covered the sustainability of Cities, Climate Change as symptom, the Biosphere’s ability to keep us alive – and the big 6 power companies acting more like an energy cartel.

At the end of the debate I talked to each of the panel members and learnt that Carolyn is passionate about water and investment in technology (Carolyn is concerned the technology is often forgotten); Bill questioned why we had bottled water at the event; Victor tells us we have to believe in the future; Siva has a message to everyone to take personal ownership to affect change; Christopher Poole talked about composting … and losing his worms. Lesley believes in the impact of the individual and the need for corporate wisdom. Dan believes we have lost sight of our priorities and reminded us to operate as human beings in our day to day life. Kynton summed up the debate by saying he enjoyed listening to people with values, ‘not just all talk … there is some good out there’.

Questions to the panel

1. What critical issue defines a sustainable society, city, business and individual?

By Michael Goodfellow-Smith, Director of Development at Sustainability West Midlands

2. How can those who are battling for market share be persuaded to act against their own self interests to deliver future benefits for society as a whole?

By Worcester City Councillor, Lynn Denham.

3. What do the panel think of Ofgem’s warning to the big six power companies of their failure to cut household bills despite a slump in wholesale costs? Is this proof there are no ethics and the market is uncompetitive?

By energize-worcester student energy advocates.

University of Worcester, Debate, The Hive, Worcester, June 13, 2014

Recorded by susthingsout. 

Thank you to the Chair

Lesley Murphy is NHS England Area Director for Arden, Herefordshire and Worcestershire and a director of Anume ( A new me) a health and wellbeing company. She has an MBA and postgraduate qualifications in Marketing and Cross Sector Partnership. She’s a Certified Co-Active Coach, a Fellow of the Chartered Management Institute and the Royal Society of Arts and a member of the International Coaches Federation. She has held a number of board level roles in the Public, Private and Third Sectors leading transformation and change programmes.

Thank you to the panel

  • Lord Victor Adebowale MA, CBE, Chair of Institute for Collaborative Practice in the Delivery of Services to the Public based at London South Bank University and CEO of Turning Point;
  • Professor Carolyn Roberts, Oxford University and Director of the Environmental Knowledge Transfer Network (KTN);
  • Professor William Scott, Emeritus Professor of Education at the University of Bath;
  • Professor Christopher Poole, holds the Chair of Medical Oncology at the University of Warwick;
  • Siva Sabaratnam, Relationship Director, Barclays, London, focusing on global multinational corporate clients;
  • Dan Goss, BSc (Hons) Mathematics student at the University of Warwick;
  • Kynton Swingle, President of Worcester Students’ Union.

hive_debate_panel

Image (left to right): Dan Goss; Professor Carolyn Roberts; Siva Sabaratnam; John Newbury; Lesley Murphy; Katy Boom; Lord Victor Adebowale; Professor William ScottKynton Swingle

Why we need to revive our traditional orchards

Podcast by Wendy Corbett. Text by Rebecca Lashley.

Rebecca Lashley, Worcestershire County Council’s Biodiversity officer, discusses the ecology and wildlife of traditional orchards in Worcestershire and the work the County Council is doing to promote these ancient and valuable habitats.

The boom in orchard planting and fruit production in Worcestershire throughout the 1800s and into the early 1900s was fuelled by the industrial growth of Birmingham, Bristol, London, Manchester and South Wales and the rapid expansion of the country’s railway network, allowing fresh fruit to be transported on a daily basis to the produce markets of the cities. Although the number of England’s orchards has declined dramatically since the war – by up to 85% – Worcestershire still contains around 2000 hectares of orchard, about 6% of the national resource.

Vital reservoirs of biodiverse habitat

The mechanisation of agriculture brought a significant change to the way in which top fruit is produced commercially in the UK. Labour-intensive traditional orchards, with trees grown on tall, standard rootstocks, were replaced with densely-planted bush orchards better suited to management by machine rather than man, contributing to huge social and economic change within our rural landscape. Chemical application became the norm for controlling pests and diseases and traditional grazing and hay cutting of the orchard floor was replaced by mowing or spraying of herbicide.

Most of our remaining traditional orchards are now considerably neglected and derelict. However, far from serving no modern purpose these orchards are now recognised nationally as vital reservoirs of biodiverse habitat within an otherwise often intensively farmed landscape. Their history of organic management, abundance of dead or decaying timber and close association with other habitats such as species-rich grassland, hedgerows and ponds makes old traditional orchards hugely important sites for a number of wildlife species.

There are several thousand varieties of top fruit known from English orchards

Old orchards also contain a significant genetic resource. Contrary to what the supermarket shelves might lead you to believe, there are several thousand varieties of top fruit known from English orchards. Worcestershire itself lays claim to first introducing and commercially marketing 25 different varieties of apple and 4 varieties of plum (see www.worcestershireorchards.co.uk).

From the beginning of the 19th century extensive fruit nurseries developed, including around the outskirts of the city of Worcester, particularly St John’s. One famous St John’s nurseryman, Richard Smith, presided over orchards and glasshouses covering 157 acres. The Smith family business survived for almost 200 years, until the last parcel of land was sold for housing development in 1993. The breeding and introduction of new varieties to the market was a source of pride and competitiveness amongst the various nurseries.

Today, remnants of these once-extensive orchards can be discovered dotted about the city (and wider county) in parks and back gardens.

There is an increasing demand for locally distinctive and locally sourced produce

There is currently a slow but steady and gratifying revival of interest in the fortunes of Worcestershire’s old orchards, with more owners coming forward wanting to restore and replant sites and an increasing demand for locally distinctive and locally sourced produce. Traditionally managed orchards can serve a niche market for artisan ciders and perries, jams, juices and chutneys. They can also provide inspiration for community events and activities, bringing people together to celebrate and help care for this part of our heritage.

Orchards are a habitat that easily crosses urban-rural boundaries, bringing a slice of the countryside and food production into towns and cities. There are plenty of opportunities in Worcester and beyond for getting involved in community-based orchard projects.

The work of Transition Worcester (www.transitionworcester.org.uk) and the Worcestershire Community Land Co-operative (www.wclcoop.org) would be good places to start.

Much of the UK’s mistletoe is concentrated around the west and south midlands

In 2010 traditional orchards were added to the UK list of priority habitats for conservation. In Worcestershire, several plant and animal species associated with orchards are of particular importance because our county contains significant populations of them. For example, much of the UK’s mistletoe is concentrated around the west and south midlands. Mistletoe is not strictly an orchard species in its own right but its favoured host tree, the domestic apple, is. The known distribution of the rare Mistletoe Marble Moth, whose larvae feed on mistletoe producing distinctive leaf mines, is also centred on Worcestershire and surrounding counties.

The Worcestershire Biological Records Centre (http://wbrc.org.uk/) is currently running a project to encourage people to get involved in conserving orchard wildlife, either by locating and checking the condition of old traditional orchards or by taking part in training to identify rare species, like Mistletoe Marble Moth or the Noble Chafer Beetle, another nationally scarce insect with a population stronghold in Worcestershire.