Visioning Camden 2030: imagining a better future

A handout photo dated December 1940 during World War II of two women handing out bread at a canteen

Maya de Souza says, "We can learn from our war-time grandmothers on how to mend and make do." - Credit: PA Archive/PA Images

The events of the end of 2020 were a relief for those worried about our failing planet and deadlines missed.

Across the Atlantic, we saw a momentous shift from Trump to Biden. Here the government continued to pursue “net zero” greenhouse gas emissions, PM May’s big achievement. A new pathway was published by the Committee on Climate Change in December.

Waking up on New Year’s Day 2021, however, the challenges ahead became apparent.

The willingness of voters across all demographics to go with change remains uncertain. Some worry about the unknown implications. Some fear they’re the suckers making the sacrifices. Others feel that there are more immediate things to address. As Mark Carney, ex- governor of the Bank of England, and now UN Climate Envoy said, the tragedy of the commons and the tragedy of the horizon hang over us.

Solutions are often complicated, but certainly possible. But there is something in it for all - both local and global gains – and timely action though critical for social justice is not about selflessness.


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What’s vital is for communities to show willingness and force action. Politicians are sensitive folks: they may knowingly do the wrong thing rather than lose their seats.

On the collective psychology front, it’s been a positive start. Last year, Camden Council put in place a new climate action plan to achieve net zero by 2030. This year, local NGOs and sustainability groups have launched Visioning Camden 2030, a group that all are welcome to join.

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Visioning Camden 2030 is about imagining that better future. It’s hard to make a new future a reality if we can’t imagine it. It’s about digging deep into our cultures and past, as well as science, for solutions that enable us to co-create projects. North Londoners can learn from William Morris on the value of craft over consumerism, from our war-time grandmothers on how to mend and make do, and from Asian cuisine the simplicity of a nicely spiced vegetarian meal.

In this way, people can come together on projects and campaigns, work together towards change. We can nudge politicians along, allow them to go with the flow. It’s not however all about visions, but also about clear targets for which the community can hold our leaders to account.

Visit visioningcamden2030.com and see 300 Camden residents' visions of how Camden could be in 2030.Readers can join a zoom VC 2030 group meeting at end of January to contribute. Email visioningcamden2030@gmail.com

  • Maya De Souza is an environmental campaigner and chair of Dartmouth Park Neighbourhood Forum.

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