On Thursday 4th of April, the Greener Birmingham coalition launched the ‘The Big Green Conversation’ as part of Birmingham’s Green Year of Action.

The Big Green Conversation is a way for the people of Birmingham to actively help to decide what kind of city they want to live in. By holding Big Green Conversation events, talking to local councillors and filling out the online Big Green Conversation survey, citizens’ voices will be heard at future city planning meetings. The coalition’s aim is to produce a People’s Charter for the Environment based on feedback from the survey responses which will then be presented at a People’s Summit in November 2019.

The launch event for this campaign was a great success.

The evening kicked off with an introduction from Georgia Stokes, former Chief Executive of The Wildlife Trust for Birmingham and the Black Country. She highlighted the importance of the Big Green Conversation and introduced keynote speaker, Councillor Ian Ward. He spoke about the need to reduce private car use in the city as a way to prevent the 900 deaths per year from air pollution. As a ‘car lover’ himself, he said that the council had to start targeting those that are using cars as their sole mode of transport. He said that talks are currently in place to allow buses to proceed through traffic lights before cars as a way to boost the use of public transport as well as plans for extended cycle routes throughout the city.

Local environmental organisations who are part of the Greener Birmingham Coalition were then welcomed to talk about what they are doing in the local area to improve the city. Tracey Foster (DEFRA), Margaret Sheward (Friends of Moseley Bog and Joy’s Wood), Ewan Hamnet (Champion for Physical Activity in Birmingham), Charlotte Allen (Refill) and Michael Addison (Eco Birmingham) all spoke about how their organisation’s projects are fitting into the Year of Green Action.

Rosa Day (winner of the Fifer Award for Young Environmentalist) gave an interesting talk about her solution to beat plastic pollution. Her idea involves talking to supermarkets to gain their permission to display images showing the detrimental impact that plastic has on wildlife next to plastic wrapped products. This will incentive customers to purchase plastic free products instead!

The launch closed with a short speech from Councillor Waseem Zaffar who gave some concluding comments on how working together we can make “Birmingham’s golden decade a green decade.

It was great to see so many positive people at the launch and it gives real hope for us making a significant environmental change within the city.