Friday, 14 February 2014

Ethical Local Business brings resilience to communities, economic summit delegates told.

Ethical entrepreneurs and community organisations from the Lancaster region gathered at the University of Cumbria last week for a local economic summit, hosted by the university’s Institute for Leadership and Sustainability (IFLAS).

Lancaster Ethical Small Traders Association (ESTA - http://lancasteresta.org/) has formed a new partnership with IFLAS aimed at helping the city’s enterprise community to network, develop new ideas and collaborate on sustainability projects.

ESTA chairman Michael Hallam told the 50 delegates:

“We live on a finite planet and we’re starting to see things folding in on themselves. Politicians and governments can’t do everything. It’s up to everyone to create a sustainable world and we need to empower communities to come up with their own sustainable initiatives.”

Delegates discussed ideas around the themes of encouraging lifelong learning, developing a strong community fabric, protecting the environment and creating a thriving local economy.

The University of Cumbria’s Professor Jem Bendell hopes the partnership with ESTA will help to bring the innovative work being done at IFLAS - including use of local currencies - to a wider audience.

He said: “Small business is the heartbeat of the community. The University of Cumbria has to engage in ways that make sense to the community. We hope our partnership with ESTA grows.”

Delegates were enthusiastic about the aims of the summit. Tony Haslam runs Banking on Carbon Ltd, a Lancaster firm working to create a local currency for Lancaster with the added benefit of helping users offset their carbon footprint.

He said: “I came to the summit to raise the profile of the REALM local currency (http://realmexchange.co.uk/) . It’s really useful to connect with people who don’t know what we’re doing. There’s a lot going on in Lancaster, but we need to find ways of getting through to people.”

Delegate Ian Aspin owns a TV company and is currently a PhD student writing a book about creating shared values within communities.

He said: “What people here are doing, is looking at ways to create shared value and look at ways that we can work together. It starts at local level like this, but it’s completely scaleable.”

The next ESTA summit will take place at the University of Cumbria’s Lancaster campus during the summer.

For more information about the University of Cumbria’s Institute for Sustainable Leadership, visit www.cumbria.ac.uk/IFLAS

IFLAS is currently accepting applications for its Post Graduate Certificate in Sustainable Leadership, which launches this summer.

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