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      Making the Arc Famous for a High-Quality Life

      In short, how can growth be more inclusive and sustainable than has been managed previously?

      21 Feb 2022 Dan Thorp, Director of Policy & Programmes, Cambridge Ahead

      At Cambridge Ahead we have spent many years researching and understanding how the economic growth of a world-leading economy like Cambridge can be harnessed to improve the quality of life of existing and new residents alike. In short how can growth be more inclusive and sustainable than has been managed previously?

      We know through this research that the Cambridge economy, like others across the Arc, is vibrant and has been resilient over the course of the last two years. Recent research has showed that knowledge intensive sectors were growing employment at five times the rate of other sectors. Regions like the OxCam Arc have a valuable asset in our innovation clusters – but what is the right way to think about that asset in a way that improves quality of life for all?

      We believe that the answer lies in the adoption of a new framework to guide growth based on the capitals, that now is an opportune time in public mood to implement a progressive new agenda, and that the OxCam is the opportune place to do so.

      This is a bold ambition that spans so many of the issues that our communities and industries are dealing with, but it is for this very reason that we believe a new framework is the right strategic place to begin.

      We have worked closely with the Bennett Institute for Public Policy at the University of Cambridge to explore how this bold ambition could be made a reality in a specific place.

      The wealth economy framework that the Bennett Institute has developed is based upon the principle that as an area we should focus on building and maintaining our stock of the following six capitals: 

      • Human (health and skills) 
      • Natural (environment, ecosystems, raw materials) 
      • Social (community cohesion, trust, social norms) 
      • Physical (infrastructure, homes, equipment, information and communications technology) 
      • Institutional (quality and reliability of governance)
      • Knowledge (accumulated best practices and ways of doing things) 

      By having these capitals balanced and in good stock in our region, prosperity and productivity will follow. That is the governance we are advocating for both within public decision-making, but also across industry too. We are piloting and working towards both in Cambridgeshire and Peterborough and believe that this should be extended across the Arc as an integral part of the next period.

      For example, in order that natural capital be prioritised in the next set of strategic plans for Greater Cambridge we have contributed towards the development of the Cambridge Nature Network initiative. This has mapped available land across the area and assessed its suitability for biodiversity, nature recovery, and public access to green spaces. The result is a detailed plan that would more than double nature in Greater Cambridge.

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      These are specific examples. The important point here is what we value. If our system values these six capitals and works towards keeping them in good stock, as an area we will deliver better outcomes.


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