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NEECCo is focused around addressing the climate emergency, ecological breakdown and the need for a just transition. We are developing a set of indicators to help understand if what we are doing is having the desired effect; if collectively and individually our changes in behaviours and consumption patterns are going the right way, fast enough.  

The indicators will need to be readily understandable by the public, simple and replicable, make use of publicly available data, and cover key aspects of the greening of a region. 

There are five stands of measurement: 

  • the regional carbon budget  
  • the traditional triple bottom line of environmental, social, and economy 
  • the sense check of a just transition.  

So far … 

A seminar organised in late 2019 with the National Innovation Centre for Data based at Newcastle University initiated the work, establishing the overall approach and initial working group membership.  

During the following nine months we worked together to develop the approach, define the metrics and indicators, and identify existing data sources. It also became clear that there are important gaps in the data and we are often dependent on proxies. While we can expect new data sources and metrics to be developed we should not wait for their development, but work openly with what is available recognising that some metric will change over time.     

More than 100 individuals and organisations from the Tees Valley to Northumberland have informed the project. They are based in different sectors with diverse focuses, all contributing with their expertise towards the Coalitions aims.  

A mocked up dashboard has been developed to draw this work together and illustrate what is possible, and what is needed.  

  • Carbon:  based on Tyndall Centre for climate change research carbon budget and Scatter Graphs approach. Living within our carbon budget requires us to manage our triple bottom line.  
  • Natural: This indicator will collect metrics and data to show changes in our natural assets that are happening because of regional efforts to become England’s Greenest Region. This includes changes in quantity and quality of resources and species in our region and the ability of our landscapes to store carbon. Overtime it will begin to show the services we get from nature and the value of these services to us as individuals and businesses 
  • Economic: The transition to a green economy is the focus of this metric. Tracking the growth in green training and employment opportunities, reporting on the change in carbon intensity of the economy and transport use and how the economic sector is reducing its environmental impact.  
  • Social: The climate crisis and ecological collapse are a result of human activity. They are and will increasingly affect our health and wellbeing. We need to change our behaviours and relationships with the natural world individually, at household and neighbourhood levels across our region. 
  • Just Transition: In theory we could address the climate crisis and ecological breakdown without recognising and rebalancing the deep structural inequalities in our society. In practice, not only would this be morally indefensible it would also be an ineffective and short term response. This set of indicators is a sense check on the traditional triple bottom line of environmental economic and social. 

What next … 

Working with Analysts Network North East (ANNE), the regional branch of the Operational Research Society, and NICD we have posed a challenge around using data to make progress. We have been supported by the Rivers Trust and Livin’ Housing amongst others. The challenge has attracted approximately 70 young people from across the region’s five universities and draws to a close with an awards and presentation ceremony in late spring 2022.

The live version of the dashboard is being built over two phases, with the learning from the first informing the second. The indicators in the first phase have a range of characteristics (national statutory data disaggregated to regional level; generated within the region) and require working with a cross sector range of partners. This includes close alignment between our work and a planned development at the EA Chief Scientist’s Group. The ‘backroom’ work of developing the necessary templates and protocols will be complemented by the outward facing visualisation which will be tested with a limited launch on completion of the first phase. In parallel, the internal coherence and coverage of the set will be confirmed and there will be an exploration of the opportunities for using the completed dashboard as a public engagement tool.

This is an ongoing and collaborative piece of work. It is a means to an end: informing and stimulating action; attracting additional resources and holding us all to account.  

You can see a draft of the Indicators dashboard here: