Launched at London’s prestigious Guildhall on 13 November in front of hundreds of business and community leaders as well as environmental experts, the LSx was set up in response to research that demonstrated an urgent need for an independent cross-sectoral ‘one stop shop’ to share good practice in sustainability. Just as the London Stock Exchange allows companies to trade in stocks and shares, the London Sustainability Exchange will provide a focus for the transfer of expertise, information and knowledge between organisations, cutting across all sections of the community and society and involving the public, private and voluntary sectors, its backers say.

Following its launch, the LSx will identify the best focus areas for activities in 2002, but developments that it would like to see include:

  • exploitation and development of low carbon technologies throughout London’s buildings and industries, protection and enhancement of biological diversity, and a dramatic reduction in the capital’s waste outputs;
  • a transport system which is efficient, safe, accessible for all and makes use of foot and pedal power, as well as public transport and car options;
  • the integraration of social, economic and environmental objectives by the capital’s key industries such as tourism and the finance sector; and
  • regeneration strategies delivering better health, good social networks, meaningful work and a supportive and uplifting physical environment in London’s most deprived communities.

At the launch, the SFx’s Chief Executive Penny Shepherd, the former head of the UK Social Investment Forum said the organisation “will be a necessary part of London’s strategy to achieve a sustainable future and will be a catalyst for change”, also helping to evaluate the progress of environmental and development programmes in the city, having a key role in disseminating information about sustainability and “will not duplicate what people are already doing”. “The launch is a call for ideas – we are urging people to let us know about projects, visit our website and contribute towards our development,” she said, presenting some of the daunting challenges faced by London, which include:

  • Londoners recycle 9% of their household waste, compared with Barcelona which recycles 25%, and 50% in Seattle – the city produces a total of 18 million tonnes of waste per year, the vast majority of it unrecovered;
  • London’s per capita energy consumption is higher than every other European City other than Brussels, emitting 60 million tonnes of CO2 per year;
  • The city’s ‘ecological footprint’ – the theoretical area needed to support the metropolis – is 125 times its size and roughly the same size as the UK; and
  • London has over 2,000 hectares of derelict land, an area larger than the City of Westminster.

The brainchild of Bridge House Estates Trust Fund, a charitable trust of the Corporation of London, the LSx has been set up by a consortium led by Forum for the Future. Chairman of Bridge House Estates Trust Fund, Peter Rigby, announced £1.6 million to go to LSx over 4 years, saying he hoped “this amount of money and leadership will encourage other companies to put money into this initiative”.

In a statement delivered at the launch, London Mayor Ken Livingstone said that “London needs a popular face for sustainability to make it more appealing”, which he expects the Exchange to provide. “One of our greatest challenges is making cities sustainable but vibrant and economically viable,” he said. “Instead of seeing cities as the source of the world’s problems, we should be seeing them as creating to its sustainability…places where the greatest opportunities exist for achieving sustainability.” he added, stating that the Greater London Authority’s Sustainable Development Commission would work together with the LSx.

A recent edie feature (see related story) found that London is a long way behind its sustainability goals.

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