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Sustainable future beside the seaside

In what was once dubbed Britain's hippest city, a model of sustainable living is being built beside the seaside...


Laura Järvinen

Senior Lead, Nature and daily life


Striving towards a world based on sustainability in which people enjoy a high quality of life using only our fair share of the earth’s resources? The city of Brighton & Hove in the UK has already made this a reality.

We visited Brighton & Hove in early February 2013 to learn more about the model they employ. In particular, we wanted to find inspiration for the regional resource efficiency operating model planned for Jyväskylä under Sitra’s Resource wisdom project.

Brighton uses the One Planet Living (OPL) approach. Based on ten simple principles jointly compiled by BioRegional and WWF, it provides a framework that makes adopting a sustainable lifestyle easy and affordable. Aspects of everyday living related to housing, clothes, food, health, education, leisure time and the energy and transport industries are taken into consideration in the approach.

The principles are applied to a wide range of targets, such as residential buildings, businesses and regions. One example is One Brighton, a popular community of apartment blocks in the heart of Brighton. No parking spaces were constructed at One Brighton, and the money saved was used on green building solutions without the need to increase the prices of the apartments. One Brighton has a common composting and community centre, leases rooftop allotments, and offers Car Club and Green Caretaker services.

Living by One Planet principles in Brighton

The One Planet Living approach provides a global partnership for developing cost-efficient sustainable solutions, peer support from others using the approach and an assessment of the realisation of goals.

The experiences of the city of Brighton & Hove in One Planet Living are encouraging. Through more efficient use of resources and functions, it is possible to achieve financial savings and generate new service innovations. This is a holistic approach, which is not limited to the environment; it also encompasses the economy, culture and equality. OPL is a clear brand with international visibility.

Existing internal systems can be incorporated into the OPL approach, eliminating unnecessary extra work. OPL is a flexible and adaptive approach with the ability to operate across different boundaries, be they local authorities, companies or communities. When all the operators use the same framework, they also share a common set of concepts, which helps streamline cooperation.

An external assessment of reaching the goals was deemed highly important in Brighton. A holistic approach and its goals forced the authorities to take a comprehensive look at the city’s functions, revealing the areas where improvements are required and, at the same time, highlighting the areas where progress has been made.

Brighton & Hove City Council is shifting the focus to the Sustainability action plan into which the ten OPL principles have also been incorporated. The draft of this three-year action plan is currently under consultation. It sets out a vision for the city’s sustainable future and the key projects that are needed.

The plan is designed to help reduce the city’s ecological footprint and make Brighton & Hove a more resilient city with a better quality of life. The council and the city are jointly monitoring the further development and implementation of the action plan, and will assess the effects of the measures every 18 months.

Brighton is an example of how the OPL approach makes pioneering a reality and inspires people to do more to reach their goals than they could ever have imagined possible.

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