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In June 2019 Southampton City Council (SCC) announced an ambitious target for its city under the banner Green City Charter (GCC) and more recently declared a climate emergency (many local authorities in the UK have declared a climate emergency). In addition to the City Council, the GCC was signed by other entities in the city, including institutions, businesses and charities. However, there are no specific indicators to measure the success or otherwise of commitments undertaken by the participants.

The charter was created to assist Southampton City Council in its transition towards zero carbon making it a cleaner, greener and healthier city. The GCC has five main themes, summarised below (click on an icon to find out more).

Carbon reduction planning & delivery, energy efficiency measures and reduction in fossil fuels.

Addressing air quality in the City, encouraging low emission vehicles and disincentivising high emission vehicles.

Establishing & supporting green infrastructure & biodiversity.

Sustainable waste models, procurement policies and water consumption controls.

Sustainable travel to work schemes and business-use travel plans & delivery.

In order to assess the GCC and its targets, a Performance Tracker has been developed by the Energy and Climate Change Division (ECCD) at the University of Southampton to provide a robust assessment of the GCC signatories under each of the five themes (criteria) of the GCC. The Tracker will enable an organisation to assess and quantify their present and future development in achieving their committed sustainability targets under the five themes. Alongside this, the Tracker also provides a platform allowing parties to see and learn from the progress made by other GCC signatories.

The Tracker measures performance across the five main GCC themes, which are sub-divided into 39 sub-themes (Fig.1). The weighting of each theme and sub-theme has been evaluated through a mathematical approach based on the Analytical Hierarchy Process (AHP) supported by input from selected experts in the field to arrive at a consensus in the weighting. All items are scored based on specific guidelines taking into account the size and type of organization.

Figure 1: GCC Themes & Sub-Themes

In order for the signatories to participate in the process of tracking their progress, appropriate templates are provided by the GCC Tracker team upon registration to allow data collection based on the five themes. The templates are currently available as five documents (each relevant to a specific theme) with an accompanying guide. Within the templates, the questions asked are predominantly yes or no with occasional prompts for data. In the current status an organisation can provide general assumptions where data is unavailable (merely stating that this is the case). The information provided in the templates indicates a measure of the present and a record of progress. It is also an educational tool not only showing opportunity for investment but also highlighting where current data may be enhanced.

The Tracker team will provide assistance where necessary either through email or a video consultation. Once the templates are completed, send these directly to the team to allow the scores to be finalised (in the future the templates will be available in a web portal with automated assessment which can be made public or kept private). As shown in Fig.2, the final score has a five grade ranking with a breakdown for the scores in specific sub-themes. It is intended that the templates to be completed annually to allow for organisation to track the impact of their progress against the sustainability strategies.

Figure 2: GCC Pilot Score (Overall & Sub-Themes)

GCC signatory can participate within the assessment process and have their performance assessed according the five themes. All data and template responses are held confidentially and final scores can be made public or confidential. All that is required is for a signatory to register and complete the GCC templates, which you can also download in advance of registering to learn more.

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GCC Tracker Mapping & Summary Reports

Below is an example of the scores for Southampton City Council who has granted permission for their GCC data  to be publicly available. Please click on the logo to view a summary report along with a breakdown of their score across the five themes.

Scores will also be made available through the GCC Tracker status map for GCC signatories, so that the overall performance of participating GCC signatories will be displayed (with permission) in the Tracker website providing visual indication of the various components of the tracker.

Click here for the Tracker website

Sustainable Development Goals

There are clear links between the Green City Charter and the UN Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) which were developed as a model, aiming to achieve a better and more sustainable future for all by 2030. Addressing global challenges ranging from poverty, inequality, climate change and environmental degradation. 

Central to the GCC work is assisting in achieving UN Sustainable Development Goal 17, Partnerships For the Goals. This being said the five themes encompass eleven SDGs from SDG1, No Poverty to SDG 15, Life on Land as shown in the graphics to the right.

GCC Signatories

Signatories to the GCC will enable a collaborative approach to making the City of Southampton a carbon neutral, cleaner and healthier city. Signatories include but are not limited to

To know more about the Green City Charter Performance Tracker, including how to participate and details of the simulation model, please contact p.a.d.turner@soton.ac.uk.

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