The Penzance Town Deal board was formed earlier in the year to focus on creating an investment plan to bid for up to £25m from the government to support large capital expenses for projects in Penzance and Newlyn.
While they were working on that the government announced a £500,000 Accelerator Fund specifically for projects that could be completed by March 2021. This meant they had to be most of the way along and needed a little nudge to get over the line.
The Board has always put sustainability at the heart of its vision for Penzance and Newlyn. Their objectives say that they are always to consider the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals. These 17 goals were created by 196 governments to take on the largest challenges around the world in sustainability. Until now it’s been very challenging to figure out what this means for a town like Penzance.
Another popular framework of sustainability being used in Cornwall is the Doughnut Economy framework. Cornwall Council used this as a decision making tool when creating the Saints Loops project.
The great thing about the two different frameworks is that they work really well together and so when evaluating projects for the investment plan the Board are using the Doughnut Decision Making Tool and then looking at the impact on the Sustainable Development Goals.
The biggest challenges in sustainability though is proving that it works. We are all aware that things need to change, but finding organisations, councils or whole towns that have successfully gone through these processes is difficult.
Penzance has really stepped up with the way that it is going about this. Apart from the incredible groundbreaking piece of legislation that came from the Future Generations Act in Wales, using these principles, Penzance is leading the way for Cornwall on a global stage.The Penzance Town Deal Board has connections both to the United Nations Global Compact (the business part of the UN) and Cornwall Council and both are eagerly paying attention to Penzance as a guiding light for other towns across the world.
What is helping is the existing groundswell of grassroots action in the town, which has also put Penzance firmly on the map for being a place that cares and wants to start putting people and planet first. Plastic Free PZ led the town to be the first in the UK to achieve Plastic Free Communities Status, but it is by no means the only organisation working to help create a sustainable community.
Groups like Growing Links, Penwith Kids Clothesline, Whole Again Communities and Mounts Bay Marine Group are all doing amazing work. They are now joined by Sustainable PZ, a continuation of Plastic Free Penzance’s work, which aims to link and strengthen action to create a sustainable community which works for everyone.
The town is home to groundbreaking businesses such as Tinkture, who are committed to looking at circular economy models, and a host of other local, independent shops and services who are using their autonomy to put sustainable choices top of the agenda. New Dawn Traders, who deliver global cargo by sail, dock in Penzance harbour. Geothermal energy now heats the iconic Jubilee Pool. Guesthouses across the town are moving towards sustainable tourism.
This is what the UN Sustainable Development Goals look like for Penzance.
The Accelerator Fund has been agreed and at this time the Board are not only preparing to share their decision making with leaders across the UK but they are advancing the tool as well, building on what Cornwall Council started by creating a multi use decision making tool based on the Doughnut Economy and Sustainable Development Goals.
This is a world’s first and all eyes will be on Penzance as the Board takes on the enormous challenges that come with creating a positive future for a whole town as we battle pandemics, systemic social issues and the climate emergency.