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The fight for 'A More Natural Capital' continues

This blog is the first in a series to explore the 'A More Natural Capital' environmental manifesto for the next Mayor of London. In this opening blog, Neil Sinden, Director of CPRE London, introduces the 'A More Natural Capital' manifesto and invites all Londoners to the Mayoral Environmental Debate on Monday 12 April with leading Mayoral candidates to explore candidates' positions on some of the most pressing environmental issues.

March 2021

This time last year we were only beginning to understand the implications of the coronavirus pandemic then sweeping across the globe. Few predicted the scale of the impact it would have on our lives, or the environmental inequalities it would reveal.

This is why a coalition of leading environmental groups has spent the last year updating our joint manifesto - A More Natural Capital - for the London Mayoral and Assembly elections which will now take place this year on 6 May. We have always known that action is needed from all levels of government to tackle the unprecedented nature, climate and public health challenges we face. While recognising the benefits of contact with nature and green spaces to our wellbeing, we were not to know how important that contact would become as successive lockdowns took their toll.

In the face of these challenges more than 20 leading groups with an interest in the environment and quality of life in the capital have come together to agree a set of priorities for the next Mayor. The manifesto is a shared agenda for change. It groups 24 key actions under four broad themes: action to reduce pollution and waste, to secure nature’s recovery, to increase resilience to climate change and to improve health and wellbeing.

This is the opening blog in a series that will explore the issues in the manifesto in more depth over the coming weeks in the run up to the elections. Each blog will be written from the perspective of one of the coalition members whose focus is on the topic in question. Please do follow these posts which will be promoted through various social media avenues, including directly from our dedicated twitter feed @AMoreNaturalCap.

It is striking how any of the actions we identify – such as connecting more people with local green space through the creation of new green walking routes and parks, improving air quality by promoting more active travel, and increasing tree canopy cover – could deliver multiple climate, nature and health wins.

We have been pleased to meet many of the candidates and their teams to discuss our asks both before and since the original elections were postponed. This has given us much encouragement. Many of the actions we identify enjoy support across the political spectrum but there were also points of divergence over how best to achieve some of our objectives, and some notable areas of disagreement. This includes proposals for aviation expansion at Heathrow and City airports – just one of the issues that will require a fundamental rethink following the pandemic. One thing everyone seems to agree on is that the Mayor needs greater powers and resources to secure the step change needed to deliver a healthier environment for all Londoners.

We are delighted that most of the leading candidates have agreed to participate in an online event – the Mayoral Environment Debate – on Monday 12 April to discuss these issues and their own priorities. This will be an important opportunity to explore the candidates' positions on some of the most pressing issues now facing Londoners – poor air quality, inadequate green space and obstacles to greener lifestyles – and how they would deliver the transformational change we need.

Please read our manifesto, support its proposals and attend the debate on 12 April to help us press the candidates to commit, if elected, to supporting and delivering as many of its objectives as possible. In the meantime, we would welcome feedback on the A More Natural Capital and further ideas on how to achieve its aspirations for a healthier, greener and more liveable London.

Neil Sinden is the Director of CPRE London.

Follow @CPRELondon and @AMoreNaturalCap

The opinions expressed in this blog are the author's and not necessarily those of the wider Link membership.