The G7 summit will only be the start of efforts to attract more investment and jobs to Cornwall while putting Cornwall at the forefront of the green revolution.
Since the announcement of the world leaders coming to Carbis Bay in June, much has been said about the possible benefits and legacy that could be created for Cornwall.
But with less than two weeks to go before the G7 arrives in Cornwall, the focus has been on any disruption that could be caused by the event rather than any possible bright spots.
Glenn Caplin-Gray, Managing Director of the Cornwall and Isles of Scilly Local Business Partnership (LEP), led the preparations for the business sector to take advantage of the global focus on Cornwall and the Isles of Scilly.
He said: “The G7 is a great opportunity to show Cornwall to the world, both in terms of our people and our exports and investment opportunities – we need to seize this moment in the global spotlight.
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“But it’s not just globally, it’s important to think about how we position Cornwall and the Isles of Scilly in a UK context as well and to advocate for further investment from the UK government. “
And one of the key aspects of Cornwall that will be highlighted at the G7 will be the work that has been done on environmental projects and climate change initiatives.
“One of the reasons we were chosen to host the G7 is that we are so much further along on our journey to a zero carbon economy than the rest of the country.
“We now have 40% of our electricity produced from renewables in Cornwall and we have reduced our carbon footprint by a fifth in recent years. We also have attractive opportunities for floating offshore wind.
“We want to explain why Falmouth as a port is an important place to invest to help achieve the UK’s goal of having one gigawatt of electricity generated from offshore wind. We want Falmouth to be used to deploy offshore wind power in the Celtic Sea.
“But the G7 is also an opportunity to talk about changes in the government’s renewable energy policy to include geothermal energy in a much more meaningful way.”
Cornwall has taken the lead in geothermal energy with projects at United Downs and the Eden Project showing how it can be used to generate energy and heat.
Glenn said: “It’s great that the Eden Project has the second drilling site in Cornwall and we can bring government officials there to show them what’s going on in real life.
But in addition to showing how the investment could be used to move these low carbon projects forward and create new jobs and opportunities in Cornwall, the G7 will also be an opportunity to showcase businesses in Cornwall.
Glenn said: “There is an export opportunity – Cornwall exports around £ 680million worth of goods to the G7 countries each year. These are great business partners that Cornish companies already do business with and there is a great opportunity to expand brand awareness. The world already knows a lot about Cornish food and drink, but there is a great opportunity to talk about Cornish manufacturing and tech industries.
“There’s a lot going on in Cornwall that not everyone knows. The world knows Cornwall and the Isles of Scilly as a tourist destination and we expect this to be highlighted again.
“But we also want to change the narrative a bit and show all the other things that are happening in Cornwall.”
It is also hoped that the G7 will provide another legacy by showing the young people of Cornwall the opportunities that are available as well as emerging sectors that could offer them new career opportunities in the future.
Glenn said: “There is a huge opportunity to educate young people about the opportunities that come their way. The launch of Virgin Orbit, slated for next year, has generated a lot of interest and excitement.
“They will be here as part of the G7 which will take place almost a year before the first launch at Spaceport Cornwall.
“The response we received from Spaceport Cornwall’s outreach program that took place in schools across Cornwall has been truly huge and inspiring.
“We have young people engaging in STEM in ways they didn’t think was possible and they’ve learned about connectivity and used the data that will come back to the UK from space through Goonhilly.
“It inspires young people to think about the career opportunities that might be available to them here in Cornwall.
“These industries will create the highly skilled, well-paying jobs that are exactly what we need here in Cornwall. “
But while the G7 summit itself will only last a few days, Glenn and LEP want to make sure the benefits are lasting.
He said: “It’s a moment in the spotlight, but only a moment in the spotlight. We have to make the most of it, but as LEP we want to lay the groundwork for the year and the next two years. It’s a big time in the spotlight, but we have to make sure that when ministers are in Cornwall and when investors are in Cornwall, they remember the opportunities they see.
“This is the start of the process for us, not the end and the beginning of the narrative shift around Cornwall.”
And while there has been a lot of coverage about the possible disruption that could be caused to the people of Cornwall at the G7 summit, Glenn hopes that is not what the public will take away from hosting the event. .
“We know there will be some disruption during the event, but I hope people can see that there is an opportunity here as well.
“The eyes of hundreds of millions of people around the world will be on us. It gives us the opportunity to show Cornwall the way we want it to be seen.
Glenn said he relished the opportunity to compete in the G7 and said he and his team were excited about the event.
He said: “This is a really exciting opportunity to show what Cornwall has to offer globally. I really enjoyed putting all the stores in Cornwall together and condensing them into one set for people who will be at G7.
“I don’t think we’ll have that opportunity again in my career or in my life and it’s exciting to be involved.”
However, Glenn also pointed out that this particular G7 summit will be slightly different from the others due to the current environment.
“We have never had a G7 under these circumstances, as we come out of a pandemic and think very hard about new ways of working, new ways of living and new technologies.
“I hope that coming out of the lockout will speed up our recovery in the short term. There will be an impact on additional visitors and interest and local businesses will be ideally placed to own some of the government contracts around the summit hosting which will help in the current situation.
“This G7 is also approaching COP26 and it will be a much larger conversation on climate change that will start from here. We should see this as part of a journey and that is the difference between this event and previous G7 events. “