Chair's statement

Sally CampbellOne of the challenges of identifying and implementing policies which reduce society's burden on the environment, has been the lack of tools and approaches to define and quantify what is 'sustainable' consumption and what is 'sustainable' production. This study presents two data sets. The Resource Flow Analysis looks at the movement into, within and out of the South West and the use of all natural resources in the South West. This is a powerful tool for quantifying and tracking the resources required (and wasted!) in the production of the goods and services that we enjoy. The Ecological Footprint Analysis looks at the use of resources by the residents of the South West including resources consumed within the South West and indirectly in other parts of the world. It is a resonant and enlightening indicator of the consequences of our consumption patterns and how sustainable those patterns are.

As in several previous studies, these two methodologies have been applied to a region to investigate the ecological aspects of sustainable consumption and production. This study makes a significant step forward by combining these ecological aspects with economic indicators of productivity, costs and savings, and social aspects such as creation of jobs. The scenario work done in this study gives a powerful insight into how these sort of analyses can be used to appraise and provide evidence for local regional and even national policy making.

While there is still a shortage of robust data on which to carry out these analyses, particularly for materials, products and wastes, data sources do appear to be improving. The data we have gives a serious indication that we are already living beyond our means. What we need now are information, data and knowledge to enable us to find effective and efficient ways of living sustainable lifestyles, in terms of both production and consumption. I believe this study makes a useful contribution.

On behalf of the project team I would like to thank those who funded this work and all those who contributed their time and data.

Sally Campbell

Sally Campbell
South West England Environment Trust
Chair of the Stepping Forward Advisory Group