London sustainable development commission releases new report to inspire further sustainability action in the capital

PROGRESS is being made in making London a more environmentally, socially and economically sustainable city, but there are still major challenges to be tackled, according to a new report published by the London Sustainable Development Commission (LSDC). 
 
The LSDC’s fifth Quality of Life report draws on existing datasets to examine 32 key indicators to gauge progress for people living in the capital.  These metrics provide evidence to help guide decision-makers in taking the actions needed to improve the quality of life of all Londoners: present and future, and to help London play its full role in meeting global sustainability goals.
 
The indicators it presents are the responsibility of a range of organisations and bodies across London, including the Mayor, boroughs, business, central government and other stakeholders in the private and public sectors.
 
The report sets out progress since the last Quality of Life reports, the most recent being 2012.  It collates existing data across the three, interrelated areas of sustainability: environmental, social and economic. In doing so, it provides a more holistic snapshot of London’s quality of life and how sustainably the city is developing. 
 
The study, published on 15 December 2017, indicates that overall, many of the indicators of sustainability are heading in the right direction.
 
For instance, London’s public transport mode share has increased from one of the lowest in comparable European cities in 1995, to higher than Stockholm, Paris, Brussels and Berlin in 2012.  London continues to be an economic powerhouse; gross value added per head for London in 2015 was more than 70 per cent higher than for the UK as a whole or any other region.  And more than a quarter of Londoners actively participate and ‘give back’ to their communities through volunteering.
  
However, more work remains to be done in key areas, and the pace of activity increased, to ensure that London becomes a truly sustainable mega city fit for the challenges of the 21st century. 
 
The increase in social inequalities is highlighted with the widening of gaps in educational outcomes and access to affordable housing. For example, between 2011 and 2016, buying a house in London became 40 per cent more unaffordable. More than half of Londoners say they are stressed by housing costs, rising to three quarters of private tenants.
 
Economic fairness comes under the spotlight as the data shows the continuing and growing gulf between the financial haves and the have nots.  For instance, nearly two in five children – around 700,000 – are living in poverty.  And Londoners’ disposable income varies widely by borough: those in Kensington and Chelsea have almost five times more to live on than those in Lewisham.
 
The report also highlights those areas in which the LSDC believes progress is being made, but where concerns remain about the scale of changes required. Among these is climate change. London's direct carbon emissions are reducing, but will need to continue to do so at scale to keep London on track to meet targets set out in the Paris Climate Change Accord. The Mayor of London, Sadiq Khan, has recently published a raft of draft strategies with proposals to address these challenges, including on housing, environment, transport, London’s economy and the London Plan.
 
LSDC Chair Dr Ashok Sinha said:
 
He said: “It is heartening to see that progress is being made in a number of areas to make our city more sustainable.  But our new report also shows that major challenges remain. They require an urgent, collective response.
 
“We invite all of those with a leadership role in improving Londoners’ quality of life whilst living within our environmental means – decision-makers at London and national level, public and private sectors and civil society – to use these data to develop the policies and innovations needed to make London more sustainable.”
 
The Mayor of London, Sadiq Khan, said:
 
“This important report highlights a number of key areas where progress has been made and also quite rightly recognises there is much more work to do to make London a truly sustainable city. I am determined to do all I can to make the capital a cleaner, safer and fairer place to live and work – but there is much more central and local government must do.
 
“That’s why I’m pressing ahead with the most ambitious plan of any world city to clean up the air we breathe, freezing Transport for London fares, taking action to tackle London's housing crisis, striving to reduce inequalities across all walks of life in the capital, and promoting schemes which encourage fair pay such as the London Living Wage.”
 
The full and summary reports, London’s Quality of Life Indicators Report 2017: Measuring London’s progress towards becoming a sustainable world city, are available here.
 
The indicator set is also held on London Datastore, a free and open data-sharing portal where anyone can access data relating to the capital.
 
For more information on the London Sustainable Development Commission please visit their website or follow on Twitter @LondonSDC.