This week saw the launch of the Yorkshire and Humber Climate Commission. This independent advisory group brings together a team of climate leaders from across the public, private and third sectors to work collaboratively with local authorities to help drive climate action and respond to the most serious threats facing the region.
The last twelve months have seen COVID-19 impact in ways we could never have imagined. No one can fail to be shocked by the stories of how the virus has devastated lives, communities, businesses and places, but perhaps at the same time we are also inspired and thankful for the efforts of those on the front-line who have kept essential services functioning.
In July 2020, Yorkshire Universities, the Yorkshire & Humber Academic Health Science Network and the NHS Confederation published Levelling Up Yorkshire and Humber: health as the new wealth post-COVID. The report set out the bold actions that are needed by local and national leadership to embed a renewed focus on health, tackle long-standing regional inequalities, and boost future investment in Yorkshire’s health and life sciences assets as we begin living with and beyond the COVID-19 pandemic.
Ask anyone in a university working on local growth or community engagement whether having dedicated funding for this activity makes their life easier, and you’ll nearly always be told it does. The same person may also bemoan the amount of red tape, small print and complexity involved with this funding – but the benefits of European Structural Investment Funds (ESIF), for example, outweighed the bureaucratic headaches and university engagement in ESIF grew year after year.
Monika Antal, Executive Manager
One of the last non-virtual gatherings (remember those?) I attended this year was the Climate + Culture + Collaboration event organised by Culture Forum North on the 27th of February. At the time of registering to it, I remember thinking it will be a treat to participate in something that combines professional and personal interests on the same date as my birthday, so I was really looking forward to it.
At national policy level:
YU has been recognised as an external stakeholder in the COP26 University Network, which is a growing group of UK-based universities working together to raise ambition for tangible outcomes from the UN COP26 Climate Change Conference, to be held in Glasgow, Scotland in November 2021. The Network’s mission is to ensure that the UK academic sector plays a full role in delivering a successful COP26, encouraging all actors to deliver a low-carbon, resilient world. They aim to do so by making access to research evidence and academic expertise for COP26 easier for government, NGOs, and other actors, and by taking action themselves.
Recently, I ‘attended’ The graduate labour market post COVID-19: priorities for university careers services and the role of universities, employers and government in preparing students event, hosted by the Westminster Higher Education Forum. With the economic crisis presenting new challenges for many young people seeking employment, including graduates, here is what I found out:
Recently, Nesta launched a report exploring how cities and regions collaborate internationally on innovation. If done effectively, international collaborations offer the opportunity to hit multiple policy priorities: levelling up regions, boosting investment in R&D towards 2.4 percent of GDP, and strengthening overseas relationships post-Brexit.
Today, on 1 August, we celebrate Yorkshire Day.
Yorkshire has one of the richest histories of any region in England. The name ‘Yorkshire’ derives from the word ‘Eborakon’, an old Brythonic name, which means ‘the place of the yew-trees’. During the Roman period, York was the capital of the province of Britannia Inferior.
Last week, a request landed on our ‘virtual desk’, originating from the Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy (BEIS) and linked to a series of economic recovery roundtables that are expected to inform the emergency budget announcement scheduled for the second week in July.
Given the challenging turnaround time, YU, together with our colleagues from the N8 Research Partnership, agreed to pool our respective ideas and produce a joint response. The topics where BEIS were seeking inputs, included: innovation, investment, net zero (carbon), levelling-up and (business) start-ups and scaleups. I was asked to contribute to the the start-up and scaleup theme, and was set the following exam questions: