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Corporate context

In October 2021 the council agreed to declare a 'Climate and Nature Emergency' as a result of considerable change at a local, national, and worldwide level.

The pandemic has seen the positive impact changes in behaviour has had on the environment, such as a reduction in commuting leading to natural improvements in air quality.

The Agricultural Act 2020 and the Environment Act 2021 has, and will, set out future land use policy.

These changes are already referenced and reflected in the revised Corporate Plan for 2022 with sustainability and the protection of the district's natural resources, as well as support for the local economy running through the plan.

The council is clear that in itself, declaring a climate emergency does nothing, and the council must continue and enhance its strong track record in its sustainability and environmental stewardship.

However, by declaring a climate change and nature emergency, the council gives a clear signal that it considers it of such importance to take a more fundamental look at its activities, with the target of reducing carbon emissions along with an ambitious action plan being put in place to measure annual district wide progress.

The council is also clear to reiterate that whilst climate change, green, environmental and sustainability are labels that are often used interchangeably, they are different.

Environmental or sustainability considerations are wider than climate change alone.

It is important in declaring a climate change and nature emergency that the council does not focus exclusively on climate change and instead seeks to promote actions which enhance wider environmental considerations. Key internal decision-making bodies and influencing groups will be incorporated into the council's governance structures.

Over time there will also be connections to wider groups within the community and business sectors in the New Forest, and across Hampshire.

The new Climate and Nature Steering Group (CNG) will incorporate key decision makers and influencers across the council and will share best practice, promote initiatives to reduce carbon, to identify opportunities of cross service working and facilitate behaviour change in the council and its operations and wider community.

Our new waste strategy delivers generational change in the district with a clear focus on significantly increasing recycling rates and this greener housing strategy sets the scene for tackling one of the biggest carbon producers in the district; its housing.

The council cannot do this alone, and it must continue to work with other local authorities and partners to tackle the impact of climate change in the area.

As at May 2022 the council has newly employed its first Climate Change Manager to lead its strategic approach and help deliver its long-term action plan and strategy.

The corporate approach is complimented by the numerous initiatives already underway at service level to meet both national and strategic objectives, which will be brought together under the council's single climate change agenda.

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