Oxford Friends of the Earth AGM
The past 12 months has seen Oxford Friends of the Earth facilitate broad collaborative action locally, elevating awareness and promoting discussions across three key issues: air pollution, climate, and nature. We continue to strengthen our networks, raising our profile and voice in an effort to accelerate meaningful action. Most notably through prominent public events we organised;
- Air Pollution in Oxford: Towards solutions
- Oxford Bee Fest including the second Oxford Bee Summit
- Global Crisis – Local Action: What can cities really do about climate change?
- Creating our pathway to 2050: Oxford acting on climate change - becoming a world-class city
Collaboration and partnerships continue to underpin and drive our action.
We’ve made progress on better understanding the current situation in the city and across the county; causes of air pollution locally and impact on human health - all highlighted at our Air Pollution Summit held last April to accelerate collaborative action towards solutions for clean air.
Consequently, we set up the Oxfordshire Clean Air Action group to promote collaboration and have established a call for action: We’re calling for all our local councils to develop a strong action programme that will deliver the changes we need to ensure that we have air that meets WHO standards by 2020. We encourage all to sign our petition and to share it widely.
We’re building relationships with key individuals in local authorities with remits covering clean air and transport, and recently participated in an invitation-only workshop on exploring the potential for a zero emission zone in Oxford. We’re working on identifying meaningful action to tackle air pollution in the city and the county, and looking to work in partnership with local authorities and communities.
Following our meeting in February 2016 with 21 local groups working on climate action, we set up the Oxfordshire Climate Action Network to share information and facilitate coordinated action. This has led to closer discussions and action with groups such as Fossil Free Oxfordshire and Oxford Climate Lobbying.
Our public meeting Global Crisis – Local Action last October with high-profile speakers Craig Bennett (CEO of Friends of the Earth) and Jonathan Porritt (Founder Director, Forum for the Future and Former Director, Friends of the Earth) stimulated quality questions and discussions on a broad range of global and local environmental challenges.
Extending the emphasis on local, our public meeting last month at the Blavatnik School of Government focused discussions on how we’re tackling climate change in Oxford while meeting the needs of people living in this city.
Our work around nature has gone from strength-to-strength, building on our sustained focus on bees since 2012. In partnership with Oxford University Museum of Natural History, we organised Oxford Bee Fest 2016, a public event celebrating bees which also included the second Oxford Bee Summit, a follow-up to our successful summit held in 2014. It was truly inspiring to see wonderful examples of action taken (including our Creating a Buzz project and Bee World at The Kidneys) to protect bees and pollinators in Oxford as well as nearby counties, to share expertise and ideas to promote further collaborative action - such rewarding progress.
We followed-up later in the year by convening a meeting with Oxford City Council and several ‘Friends of parks’ groups to promote further bee-friendly planting across the city. We also seized a number of opportunities last year at the Oxford Wild Fair, St Frideswide’s Bee-Friendly festival and the epic Countryfile Live 4-day event at Blenheim Palace to engage the public on the Great British Bee Count (Friends of the Earth’s nationwide citizen science bee recording initiative), threats of bee-harming pesticides (neonicotinoids) and the continued need to protect bees and other pollinators. It just wouldn’t be summer without volunteering as a giant fluffy bumblebee! Last week, at the 3rd National Bee Summit held in London, it was my great pleasure to present an inspiring overview of the work that we and others have done to help bees in Oxford.
And finally, we’re having more discussions around planning and development, threats to the environment, and defining our position and actions.
Despite uncertainties surrounding Brexit and President Trump’s long list of executive orders, including dismantling Obama’s climate protection policies, in a world appearing more divisive, we continue to work together finding strength in our collaborations.
Thank you, Oxford Friends of the Earth and all those who have supported and worked with us.
Coordinator, Oxford Friends of the Earth
Photo credits: Karl Wallendszus and Fiona Tavner