Atlantis Consultancy’s Ecological Transport Network, ETN: how 69 concepts, that benefit Londoners every day, reshaped the city and green thinking paradigm, and influenced the decision making on climate change.
The innovation within the 2004 ETN proposals got taken up by London and other cities in the UK and internationally.
Many initiatives that you will read about here are a result of many years’ research and critical look at models of conservation, the modus operandi of NGO’s and governmental organisations and the way in which environmental problems – global warming in particular – were approached and addressed up until 2004 when this body of work was published into a document: Ecological Transport Network, ETN – The Integrated Transport System.
Why ETN ?
After being stuck on the Northern Line in London due to delays in early 2004, we adapted the findings of our social enterprise businesses and re-developed the Ecotec model that aimed to address climate change to one specific area, transport. As with any new paradigm of thinking, new concepts often don’t fit neatly into the existing compartmentalised thinking and therefore, as we understood the implicit that this new paradigm could have on the planet and people, we tried different paths of introducing this work with the aim of showing how everyone’s efforts could be accelerated. So when a public request for a radical transport solution was made by the government, preparing to host Olympics??? we thought this was an opportunity not to be missed and presented our findings to Transport for London.
What is ETN ?
Regeneration programme for London and a template that could be deliberately replicated in any other city around the world. It formed a key part of a framework for tackling climate change that did not exist in 2004. We had to wait till 2015 Paris Accord for the first such legally binding agreement that sets out a framework for a coordinated global action on the issue.
The concepts within ETN are still today the most advanced of what we see now in terms of enabling fast transition into greener and more equitable way of coexisting in the post fossil-fuels era. Clean energy route is the only route for all nations if we are to keep Earth temperatures within a safe limit of 2 degrees. Given our planet’s increased ecosystem and climate fragility, we require alternative economic, social and environmental models to fulfil the Paris Agreement. Over 200-pages of ETN presented aspects of the Big Strategy model within the proposals, which focused on London transport improvements and citywide greening initiatives because that’s what we had to work with. We based a much wider model with nearly 70 concepts around London of 2004 with its big transport issues, gearing itself up for the Games. We showed how this model could benefit every Londoner, introduce faster, greener transport, reduce traffic, and enhance cycling. The improvement of transport in London was cited as an example of how the broader model could be applied. The excerpt from the ETN document lists major benefit areas and shows the basis of this new paradigm of regeneration through systemic greening proposed.
- Public transport needs are met
- Regeneration of the local economy
- Private transport needs are met
- Environmental needs are met
- People’s needs are met
- Political needs are met
- Improved transport reduction in pollution and increased productivity
- National Kyoto targets are met and exceeded
- London would become the greenest city in the world
- Formula is developed for every other country’s Kyoto targets to be met and exceeded through duplication of the model
On a personal account however, despite a huge success with the uptake of the work in the UK our fledgling consultancy ceased to exist as no benefit was gained as a result of proposing ETN so in order to preserve the integrity of the work, we made a film about a concept of community regeneration -green action hubs – and promoted this through conservation and climate change conferences to try and regain the lost ground. If this story had ever landed a front page it deserved at the time, in any of the UK’s broadsheets, the headline would have sounded something like this: “5 million pound worth of environmental concepts developed by a budding sustainable consultancy cherry-picked by TfL”
A wide dissemination and application of many aspects of this work has encouraged me and the co-author of the ETN and Ecoplaza film to consolidate this, by then, largely disjointed body of work into a book we called, A Big Strategy published in 2011. The book straightens narratives with respect to the origin and rationale behind the work and correct methods of applying this work.
69 CONCEPTS applied in London alone, operating in the capital and benefiting its residents as we speak…here they are:
- 1. Ecological grading scheme for cars being sold in show rooms.
- 2. Reduction in car tax on the basis of ecological credentials
- 3. Free entry to congestion zone for ecological vehicles
- 4. Busking licences for buskers on the tube
- 5. Developing method of adding renewable energy to existing public transport/buses.
- 6. Integrated Approach to solving problems –Promoted as part of third way.
- 7. Encouraging collective thinking and shared creativity between public and the government to improve services and reduce costs.
- 8. Using public transport including the tube to promote and encourage acts of kindness –as a drive to change values in the society – Big society, developed as messages in seats.
- 9. Big Strategy and big Idea for community (applied in 1994 in Camden community centre, presented in ETN, 2004) /twisted into Big Society, 2009)
- 10. Integrated Transport System, (1994) combined with writing on Big Strategy and Ecoplaza Paradise Oasis and Big Strategy, became adapted into Big Society (2009). Primary adaptation reduced economic, community and environment benefits to help “problem families”.
- 11. The Funding Agency/Planet Aid Agency Ltd (1991-company established then)feeding into Big Strategy – Green investment bank feeding into Big Society Bank/ Green Investment Bank(2012)
- 12. Ecoplaza Green Lifestyle Centres (1991 meeting with London Zoo and promotion and development all the way through to today.) became Lifestyle centre’s (Brown’s Labour, Perfect Storm piece on BBC.)
- 13. then Life Centres (Conservative) (2010).
- 14. Bike-Share – (with parking bays around London) became concept in Ken’s office then -Boris’s bikes, “although they were conceived in Livingstone’s administration,” Yahoo ref. We sent this through to TfL.
- 15. Paradigm shift and cultural shift through the community became Controlled shift (Conservative Party conference 2010).
- 16. A closed loop feedback system/tariffs i.e. one incremental solution or service feeding back into the system has been mentioned under new Labour adapted to become feed-in tariffs.
- 17. Using collective creativity of the public to solve problems and enable the public to submit their ideas to reduce costs, increase efficiency – taken up since and partly applied through “the green deal” and “localism” projects. This was unknown at the time of us writing proposals presenting this as a good way forward for greater public participation in politics.
- 18. The concept of infrastructure i.e. understood as the establishment of the interconnected solutions similarly modelling the structure of the Internet rather than physical buildings.
- 19. “We could only win it together” (Ecoplaza 2009) referring to the Big Idea for community addressing multifaceted problems including climate change, as presented through Ecoplaza Paradise Oasis film. “It demonstrates that we are all actively involved and working together.” (ETN 2004) “We are all in it together”- Conservatives
- 20. The marketing of the big idea relating it to a phenomenal effort that was achieved in the past such as during the WW2; concept described in depth in our Integrated Transport System document, 2004. Later depicted in BBC presentations for the marketing of Big Society on a number of occasions.
- 21. Creating solution-oriented society where through combined community wide volunteer efforts, efficiency can be increased and therefore money saved and innovation rewarded. The government left out the aspects of life style centres that helped either charities or the public on the scale that would be possible to make this viable in many communities. (we have promoted this since the 1990’s. )
- 22. ‘How did they begin? By talking.’ – line in our film. [Referring to Big Strategy and lifestyle centres in Ecoplaza Paradise Oasis 2009] How is Big Society going to be instigated? – “we have to talk about it.” – Referring to Big Society 2011.
- 23. Both Zones and Hubs were described in documentation to London Zoo and private meetings held with them and correspondence in the early 1990’s. These terms have both been referred to in more recent policy documents.
- 24. Oliver Letwin during Tory conference. 3 prong approach to solving climate change. Not how much, but what. Not having specific infrastructure to meet climate targets. Best approach for solving addressing/adapting and solving Climate Change presented through ecoplaza. The 3 prong approach we have promoted since 1990’s and published articles on this (Levante Lifestyle magazine series 2006-2008), we promoted this in IUCN Barcelona and Copenhagen, 2009 as Plan B for addressing climate change. Written up properly into the book A Big Strategy. This model helps regenerate, community, environment and economy simultaneously.
- 25. Tranquillity sofas and lounges for MP’s. We instigated one in 2003-2004 for the public, took the findings wrote it into Integrated Transport System. It got taken up for MP’s, yet not for the public.
- 26. Gordon Brown Plan B for Copenhagen- This may have been picked up from our earlier correspondence with DEFRA regarding Green Lifestyle Centre’s. See BBC ‘s report “The Perfect Storm.” “Plan B” is lifestyle regeneration centres for the average earner and everyone else in-between.
- 27. “The future of sustainable development is joined up thinking” – Tony Blair speech -Ecological transport Network/ Integrated Transport System. Additionally, Big Strategy book has a chapter and a half on what joined-up-thinking really is. (A lack of understanding and good application of this is the primary reason for the failure of Big Society to manifest really effectively to date.) Instigate Joined-up thinking brilliantly and the rest follows through.
- 28. Win-win- triple win – feedback loop concept approximately applied. Joined-up-thinking is the missing link that requires Lifestyle centres, not just Liberal Democrats Life centres.
- 29. Our “Integrated Transport System” – ETN document gets referenced at the Conservative Party Conference, 2010 at the introduction to Big Society.
- 30. Proposal of London becoming the greenest capital city – Under Ken Livingstone. If full model established London would be the greenest capital in the world and still could be.
- 31. Using incremental solutions, as a part of an integrated/interlinked solution web-like structure to solve many problems at the same time rather than one problem with one solution, in effect being able to find answers where none were previously ever found or perceived – Ken Livingstone using this concept when speaking to Frost. Published by us in earlier article in Levante Lifestyle, July 2008.
- 32. The social enhancement and lifestyle improvements inevitable by-product of environmental and social solutions when introducing life centres. (Ecoplazas see media articles.)
- 33. Proposed light-weight ecological transport for the South Bank publicly mentioned on various occasions but not instigated. (originally in Integrated Transport System.) London’s new cable transport plans, much more expensive adaptation. Our original would have been green and created many green jobs.
- 34. Improvements to lifestyle as a communal effort by cleaning and greening – Big society with mops, buckets and roundabouts and relating it to war times resourcefulness. (publicity on Big Society, described earlier in Integrated Transport System, 2004)
- 35. Talking about integrated nature when applying solutions – both Labour and Conservatives after Integrated Transport System, 2004
- 36. The concept that helping society can be turned into an enjoyable pursuit for the public –Cons’ citizens participatory process rather than relying on the system alone. (We wrote this relating to improving transport/leisure increasing options, has been used as cover for reductions/austerity measures since.)
- 37. Proactive commuters and finding solutions to transport through being involved themselves. (New labour under Blair yet the proactive methods were not instigated at the time, nor the full spectrum of green transport options.)
- 38. Creating active interest among the Public even by talking about being involved in issues -“ We have to talk about it. “Conservatives. Written into Integrated Transport System 2004, yet can only function coherently when modes are fully instigated.
- 39. ETN’s Smart signs –good city design referred to as “smart” – we set up smart bar with smart drinks in Ecotec 1993-1994. Smart was originally referred to in the context of wise and pro-active community based answers, has frequently since come to mean primarily technological answers.
- 40. Creating Environmental templates for solving problems so when introduced in cities this then gets duplicated in other areas and countries (Integrated Transport System, 2004,) Now widely being considered the best method, with Conference soon being held at The Hilton, Los Angeles on Integrated approach to sustainability alone. It is not about integrating technology but the public and the fastest, easiest way to do that is through an integrated model like the one proposed in A Big Strategy as everyone’s life improves as a result.
- 41. Eco-industrial parks/units – creating self-sufficient communities by setting up carbon neutral clusters within regions – London’s Development Agency scheme. (Ecotec industrial Park proposal with Good Earth Community group 1996)
- 42. Creating hierarchy on roads based upon ecological criteria through road tax schemes and through showroom schemes – instigated by New Labour (Within one month after they received our Integrated Transport System.)
- 43. Producing environmental measures/solutions not just from green perspectives but practical ones – Looking to combine the two or more practical uses in addition to the greener uses.
- 44. Relating green transport to increased health options, lifestyle enhancement and fun, looking at how improving transport can even tackle and reduce stress and obesity. (Integrated Transport System 2004)
- 45. Building partnership between government, corporate and enthusiastic public – inducing social enterprise and enhancing existing services – Big Strategy findings later defined and presented with Big society. Through vastly ineffective instigation as the potentially vast benefits to society of Big Society have yet to be manifested.
- 46. Creating catalyst by shifting away from top-down approach as being crucial factor – Gordon Brown- Lifestyle centres were going to incorporate this bottom up and top down approach, yet sadly the scheme under Gordon Brown was not instigated. See BBC feature.”
- 47. Educational campaigns to households – campaign “could be likened to a new innovative product launch” – Big society repeatedly re-launches, various times or so thus far.
- 48. Marketing- The Big Idea scheme could be publicised in a similar way to charity tv adverts (Integrated transport system mentioned), advert for Cons party Big society by showing MP’s talking directly to the camera like in a charity video, ( in Birmingham they linked launch to gallery event)
- 49. Relating launch to public events and music festivals – Big society street lunch, making it look like jubilee or red nose day. This was also incorporated into Birmingham conference promotion.
- 50. Grants for solar panels with pay back scheme – feed-in tariffs
- 51. Encouraging and giving Londoners/other city residents permission to garden the city green spaces, as taken up in Totnes, Torquay and various other villages and towns etc.(integrated Transport System 2004)
- 52. The walls on the underground and modes themselves used for low-cost advertising to promote projects that have social dimension, as absent from public transport at the time– instigated today with many signs up for projects, collective creativity projects and embroidered seats asking passengers to do acts of kindness for others. (Integrated Transport System 2004)
- 53. ETN is an open-ended improvement strategy created on principle of Kaisan and can be expanded upon on ongoing basis – self perpetuating nature of Big Society – Conservatives described it in a way as being vague.
- 54. Creating cross-party approach to solving problems. –used by Big Society as written in ETN – Integrated Transport System.
- 55. Finding the common sense approach that goes beyond individual party politics, i.e. what is in everyone’s interest. (Letters accompanying Integrated Transport System, 2004.)
- 56. We need to promote CSR and train agents to stimulate it – Big society sending council workers on social enterprise courses
- 57. Creating new branches of science to solve problems – Oliver Letwin using this during Big society introduction, earlier mentioned in our communications with DEFRA.
- 58. Sustainable development ministry needs to be developed – (At the time of the document sent in 2004 there wasn’t one, today there is also added Climate change and Energy department.)
- 59. Finding new ways to join business to environment and community – Conservatives use business leaders and sustainable development experts, community workers to introduce aspects of this concept publically to councils and charities.
- 60. Friendly parking meters which can be topped up by mobiles as a time and money saving measure for public – This increases flexibility of travel and revenue. (Described in Integrated Transport System 2004.)
- 61. Marketing relating train stations eg Sheffield (steel) , Hampton court and Nottingham as themes – Big society related to stately homes, museums and cultural buildings in general. (Integrated Transport System 2004)
- 62. Concept needs to be apolitical to succeed – Coalition applied this upon the further advice of a London PR company confirming the assertion we had previously made. (Integrated Transport System, 2004)
- 63. Adjusting bicycle lanes and bike share actually advertises concept of cycling and brings about paradigm – positive participatory cultural shift such as creating a garden and outdoor public swimming pool, etc – charity tried to do this and got stopped by their council.
- 64. Timed walking signs in London to encourage walking.
- 65. ETN offers rewards of schemes creating social and financial improvements/ rewarding the public for adjusting their lifestyle to be more eco-friendly – Big society’ talks of rewarding innovation and changing behaviours.
- 66. ETN can tap into nation’s collective focus; schools and retirement homes could be part of an answer to problems – Sutton life centre linking to schools in the area to reduce crime, anti social behaviour, increase social responsibility, yet leaving many of the leisure aspects out.
- 67. ETN demonstrated that this integrated approach and joined-up thinking methods can solve all sorts of problems, social, transport, health and others if applied correctly – extrapolation of solutions – life centres
- 68. Concept of creating middle ground – ETN showed how society in the middle ground could become a vehicle for a broader green agenda – Coalition copied and applied this with funding agency/ green investment bank.
- 69. A proposal of the need for having a global integrated strategy as opposed to targets that most countries cannot agree upon and piecemeal solutions. National strategies need to be aligned with a broader global strategy to be effective. There need to be workable models-formulas developed, replicated and applied across the board that help engage whole communities and countries in the process of solving our environmental and social challenges. Concept applied by the COP, 2015 at the Paris Accord meeting.