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Sustainable Development

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Sustainable development is about improving quality of life, long term. The best known definition is from the 1987 Bruntland Commission: “Development that meets the need of the present, without compromising the ability of future generations to meet their own needs”. In Leeds sustainable development means achieving the priorities in the Vision for Leeds 2030 which is for Leeds to be the best city in the UK.

  • Leeds will be fair, opening and welcoming
  • Leeds' economy will be prosperous and sustainable
  • All Leeds’ communities will be successful

Achieving sustainable development in Leeds will mean that Leeds will be the:
Best city … for children
Best city … for business
Best city … for communities
Best city … for health and wellbeing
Best city … to live
The challenge is to achieve improvements in economic, social and environmental quality of life at the same time and not at the expense of each other, while also remaining within natural and financial resource constraints.​

The Sustainable Development Unit (SDU) leads Leeds City Council’s role in promoting sustainable development within the Council and at city-wide and regional levels. SDU contributes by:

  • Enhancing our sense of place: understanding the characteristics of different places to inform the future;
  • Promotion, protection and enhancement of design quality of places: influencing local environments to have a positive influence on quality of life to the benefit of the people of Leeds – including residents, businesses and visitors;
  • Reducing Leeds’ ecological footprint: reducing the resource consumption of the city including greenhouse gas emissions; and
  • Enhancing Leeds’ environmental capacity: increasing the environment’s ability to support the city and adapting to future climate change.

We have specialist professional staff in several teams (Conservation, Contaminated Land, Design, Environment Policy, Landscape, Minerals & Waste Planning) covering architecture, biodiversity, climate change, contaminated land, environmental management, heritage conservation, landscape architecture, minerals, renewable energy, sustainable construction, tree protection, urban design, waste management, policy, research, communication and awareness raising. SDU staff are committed to ensuring Leeds is a better place for current and future generations.

Do you have work experience or work placement opportunities in the Sustainable Development Unit?

We get many such enquiries and have to be very selective about those that we are able to support. We do occasionally have Masters students and other graduates on placement with us in close collaboration with local universities.
There are other organisations worth approaching for work experience opportunities in sustainable development including:
Alternatively there are many voluntary organisations operating in Leeds. A good starting point is the Leeds Voice Environment Forum run through Voluntary Action Leeds (www.val.org.uk) who have information on relevant groups.

Does Leeds have a strategy for sustainable development?

In Leeds, sustainable development means achieving the priorities in the Vision for Leeds 2030. Therefore the strategy for sustainable development is the same as the Vision for Leeds and all of the associated documentation available on the Leeds Initiative website.