City air quality is on the agenda as focus turns on sustainability - The Worcester Observer

City air quality is on the agenda as focus turns on sustainability

Worcester Editorial 17th Apr, 2023   0

A DEBATE on the issue of air quality in Worcester rounded up a week of activities dedicated to sustainability held at the University of Worcester.

The debate, held as part of the University’s longstanding Go Green Week and open to the community, featured representatives from Worcestershire Regulatory Services, First Bus, the health sector, and the University, as well as Lord Victor Adebowale CBE, Chair of the NHS Confederation.

The panel discussed air quality in the city and the impact this has on health. Questions focused on problems with air pollution in certain parts of Worcester and its effect on private student housing, moving between campuses and wider issues around sustainable travel.

Matthew Fung, public health consultant at Worcestershire County Council, said air quality had been improving virtually year on year, up until the current year, since the 1960s, but there were issues that need to be addressed. He said the solutions lay in coming together to tackle problems and that no single intervention by itself could address them.

Katy Boom, director of sustainability at the University, stressed the importance of collating student and staff travel habits in order for the University to advocate on their behalf, showing external transport operators demand for certain services.

She added: “None of these things are going to be easy for any of us to fix. The good point is that now everybody is having conversations and getting upskilled.”

Speaking after the discussion, panellist Jo Newton, executive director of Strategy, Improvement and Planning at Worcestershire Acute Hospitals NHS Trust, said: “I think it has been demonstrated improving air quality is not just a single organisation problem.

“It’s a population issue and therefore needs a partnership approach

“Our purpose as a health care provider is putting our patients first, and we know the health benefits that can come from improved air quality for our population as a whole, but in particular for children and young people as well as people living with long term health conditions like asthma.”

Lord Adebowale added: “I think it’s great we’re having this debate, it shows leadership. Universities are the engines of the future and young people they are that future so, if they don’t do it, we’re all in trouble.”

Go Green Week featured more than 70 activities during the week, both in person and online, led by first year Environmental Management and Sustainability students in collaboration with Worcester Students’ Union.

Activities were around a different theme each day: nature and biodiversity, food and wellbeing, the United Nation’s Sustainable Development Goals, reusing and repairing, and transport.

Attendees could take home a plant or bird feeder, make a hedgehog house, sample vegan food and get advice on reducing food waste. A range of organisations, small local businesses and volunteers all contributed.

The University has been consistently ranked among the most sustainable institutions in the country for more than a decade by the People and Planet League, and in 2019 was named Sustainability Institution of the Year in the Green Gown Awards.


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