University of Cambridge > > Seminars on Adaptation to Climate Change > SMARTLIFE: GOVERNMENT, INDUSTRY AND EDUCATION ADAPTING TO CLIMATE CHANGE


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  • UserDavid Arkell, Director, SmartLIFE and Head of Innovation & Partnerships, Cambridgeshire County Council
  • ClockTuesday 10 February 2009, 17:00-18:00
  • HouseSt Edmund’s College, Garden Room.

If you have a question about this talk, please contact Sir Brian Heap rbh22.

David Arkell is the originator and project director of SmartLIFE – an international initiative building capacity for sustainable homes. As Head of Innovation & Partnerships at Cambridgeshire County Council he works across EU and local partnerships to attract funding, develop ideas and deliver solutions to shared challenges. He is a chartered planner, engineer and marketer with a wide-ranging career in the public sector. With a passion for lifelong learning, he has post-graduate degrees in planning and engineering, marketing, management, and business.

David will draw on the SmartLIFE project as a current example of stronger and urgent local government leadership in the face of climate change. SmartLIFE illustrates how government, in a “triple helix” with education and industry, can engage the consumer in the process of adapting to climate change through tangible and convincing actions that maintains choice but changes behaviours. But perhaps more crucially, rationally conceived objectives and activities can move us emotionally. If we connect our desires and quality of life aspirations with ethical, affordable and ecological solutions then there is more hope of innovation before, rather than renovation after the ‘flood’.

Cambridgeshire County Council leads the SmartLIFE partnership with Sweden and Germany, delivering at every level of government. The spirit of committed partners working with a desire to affect change delivers outcomes very quickly. In four years, Cambridgeshire has built an eco-exemplar business and training centre and 106 SmartLIFE homes, and established training courses and qualifications (3,500 SmartLIFE graduates to date), outreach educational programmes, conferences and seminars, and publications.

The terms adaptation and mitigation (of climate change) imply to some a reactive mindset. SmartLIFE is proactive and adopts the Precautionary Principle – recognising the need to build homes in our growth areas but understanding that this would damage our health and environment unless the imperative was taken to bring on innovative and sustainable methods of construction. The aims and outcomes are clear. But the talk will emphasise the complex change process and inventiveness of human beings needed for success. Sharing enough detail here is vital if we are to truly learn, improve and scale-up our impact.

David will also draw on emotional and reflective research to support the notion that our limited behaviours and often predatory instincts, as illustrated by the economic recession, can be balanced by awakening our creative instincts. We cannot, we must not, wait for others to respond to climate change impacts but shift our thinking and actions now so that partnerships of government, education and industry can mobilise change and mainstream sustainability.

This talk is part of the Seminars on Adaptation to Climate Change series.

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