The Eagle has landed. The Eagle in this case being the Eastbourne ECO Action Network (EEAN), which held its first convening session for its 8 initial Working Groups at Eastbourne Town Hall on 19th November 2019. This was the culmination of months of planning & networking by the core team of the newly-formed Eastbourne Eco Action Network CIC, a Community Interest Company that aims to facilitate deep cross-community collaboration within the EEAN on the climate actions necessary to help deliver a carbon neutral Eastbourne by 2030, as mandated by the Climate Emergency Declaration passed by the full council of Eastbourne Borough Council on 10th July 2019. These Working Groups are self-organising, bringing together local community groups, businesses, environmental activists, and councillors to set priorities for local actions and to work up practical projects. Early in the New Year they will convene again to co-ordinate on progress and collaborate on proposed projects.
The EEAN CIC has already secured some grant funding and has put in an initial submission to the recently opened National Lottery Climate Action Fund. It is assisting Eastbourne Borough Council in planning for the official launch of the Eastbourne Carbon Neutral 2030 campaign at the Welcome Building on January 18th 2020. It is also exploring innovative ways of obtaining resources for the Working Groups: the CIC is now bidding for help on the recently launched East Sussex Social Value Marketplace, and has joined the freshly launched Open Credit Network, which allows its member businesses to trade with each other using a mutual credit system. Combining entrepreneurial initiative with grassroots community organising and partnership-working with the local council is very much the model emerging from this growth of the EEAN, and it is a model that might serve as an example for other local areas in the UK to emulate.
The motivation for the EEAN to act with urgency is high, as Eastbourne is mostly a low-lying coastal community that is very much in the front line of climate change, quite literally facing the rising seas and stronger storm surges of a rapidly warming world. It is also a town facing issues such as urban air pollution, traffic congestion, acute shortage of land for housing and commercial development, as well as the issues of biodiversity and ecosystem collapse that plagues most of the rest of the UK too. The challenges are huge, but the resources, skills, and community spirit of Eastbourne’s people are huge too – harnessing them in order to start meeting those challenges is the task for 2020 and beyond.
ECO Action Network, Finance Director