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Towards a Sustainable Economy

Towards a Sustainable Economy

Rachel Turner and Jane Wills from the ESI

Key points

  • Achieving sustainable development requires an approach which recognises the interconnections between social and environmental factors
  • The challenges of present-day issues such as social deprivation and climate change are rooted in systems that require innovative responses


Two projects funded by the UKRI Strategic Priorities Fund have supported research conducted by a team of researchers from the Environment and Sustainability Institute at the University of Exeter in collaboration with Cornwall Council. The first project used Kate Raworth’s ‘Doughnut Economics’ model to assess the current state of social and environmental conditions across Cornwall. Using this model, indicators were identified to establish a baseline that can be used to evaluate Cornwall’s progress towards meeting human needs whilst simultaneously reducing environmental pressures. Social conditions investigated ranged from education to housing and fuel poverty, whilst environmental conditions included land use change and ocean health. The indicators identified now underpin The Cornwall Plan 2020-2050, committing key stakeholders to improve sustainability outcomes by 2050.

A follow-up project in 2021 aimed to provide a more detailed understanding of how sustainability indicators vary across Cornwall; identify sub-regional priorities for improving sustainable development and recognise opportunities and constraints on a more localised level. The diversity of Cornwall’s geography and social conditions means that engaging city, town and parish councils is important, to engage local communities, make effective use of existing institutions and inform the wider development of Cornwall-wide policies.

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