Institute of Cornish Studies (Fondyans Studhyansow Kernewek) event, November 2020: ‘The Sustainable Cornwall we want’.
Tevi recently joined with the Institute of Cornish Studies (ICS), located at the Penryn Campus of the University of Exeter, to explore Cornwall of the present and future, and its sustainable development, bringing together cultural, environmental, political and economic academics, alongside local businesses and voluntary groups. This event marked the start of a series of events hosted by the ICS, to be detailed on the institute’s events page, and marked the launch of the new ICS website.
The work of the ICS was introduced by historian and institute director Dr Garry Tregidga. Garry explained that the work of the ICS has always been about more than cultural, language and heritage issues, though those are important aspects of Cornwall’s cultural life. The ICS has maintained a focus on Cornwall’s unique environment, and has gained recent focus on present and future Cornwall, specifically through the lenses of sustainability and the environment.
Dr Joanie Willet, an academic and senior lecturer at the University of Exeter, explained that Cornwall was a region of constant change and evolution, which may not always be visible, a change reflected in the evolution of traditional industries.
The relaunched website of the ICS will allow us to view this new, evolving, contemporary Cornwall develop, focusing on four key themes: culture, heritage and society, politics and governance, environment and health and economy and business, providing an all-encompassing view of modern Cornwall.
The baton was then passed to Dr Dan Bloomfield, representing both Tevi and the IIB (Innovation Impact and Business) team at the University of Exeter, which has long been at the forefront of research and impact in the South West.
Dan explained that Cornish culture was crucial to the work of IIB and Tevi, and that Tevi (which sports a Cornish language name), has recently been extended for a further two years. This extension follows engagement with hundreds of SMEs across the county since the start of the project in 2018.
A focus on an industry synonymous with Cornwall, mining, was then provided by Professor Karen Hudson Edwards of Camborne School of Mines and the University of Exeter. Karen focused on responsibility in mining, and the need for the mining industry to focus on resource efficiency, safety, environmental protection and community engagement alongside profit. Central to this was the impact on ecosystems and health, challenges for the industry.
Innovations such as recent approaches towards lithium extraction in the region suggest that mining may continue to be a part of Cornwall’s economy into the future, reflecting the long legacy of mining in the area.
Camborne School of mines are also working on novel ways to extract resources from mine wastes, to help support a circular economy through projects such as NEMO, MINRESCUE and Techmet.
Lucy Crane from Cornish Lithium continued the mining theme, introducing CI’s innovate methods to extract lithium from hot springs. Lithium has been known to be present in Cornish water since the early days of mining, but is now potentially economic to extract and could help to satisfy the growing demand for lithium associated with the recent and near-future expansion of electric vehicles from a domestic, safe source.
The future of Cornwall was reflected by Melissa Thorpe, representing Cornwall Spaceport. Cornwall Spaceport builds on the existing aerospace heritage and infrastructure of Cornwall, and the deep-space communication expertise provided by Goonhilly Earth Station.
Payloads, such as small satellites, are expected to be launched from the spaceport from 2020, at a much reduced cost to UK industry and science as costly journeys to facilities further afield can be avoided. Cornwall Spaceport highlights the knowledge-led future of Cornwall, and opens up the opportunity to develop high resolution environmental monitoring satellite applications and putting Cornwall at the forefront of UK science. The spaceport aims to be the most environmentally sustainable launch facility in the world, accounting for an estimated <0.1% of the total carbon emissions for the county.
Jessie Hamshar and Peter LeFort from Cornwall Council introduced interim results from a survey investigating Cornwall’s attitude towards post-Covid recovery, revealing that the majority of people favoured positive change, with a focus on sustainable living and community volunteering.
This work has contributed to Cornwall Council’s ‘The Cornwall We Want’ and ‘Gyllyn Warbarth / Together We Can – The Cornwall Plan for 2020 – 2050’, providing a roadmap for the future development of the county. Cornwall Council have embraced the ‘doughnut’ model, made famous by Kate Raworth’s ‘Doughnut Economics’ to develop a decision making process that takes into consideration environment and societal impacts. These approaches, alongside positive engagement with the recently declared climate emergency, have put Cornwall at the forefront of the ‘build back better’ approach to post-pandemic recovery.
The final speaker was Emily Stephenson of Beach Guardian, a group making a real positive impact to the Cornish environment through organised beach cleans.
Beach Guardian hopes to provide an example, and to inspire visitors through its proactive work, taking the message of volunteer-led environmental protection around the UK and wider world.
The afternoon was closed with discussions on the future of Cornwall, and how this journey can be shaped.
Watch the full webinar here: