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Greater Manchester’s Natural Capital Annual Conference

On Wednesday 1st February 2017 over 120 representatives from environment, health, planning, utilities and transport sectors came together to discuss what natural capital can do for our urban environments.

Held at the Lowry in Salford, the conference provided a platform for leading practitioners to find out about complementary initiatives taking place in Greater Manchester, including the recently announced Defra Urban Pioneer and the Life funded Natural Course projects.

Keynote speakers at the event included Emma Howard Boyd, Chair of the Environment Agency, Andrew Holden from Defra and Greater Manchester’s Low Carbon Hub Chair and Salford City Mayor, Paul Dennett.

Emma Howard Boyd spoke about building a business case for investment in natural capital and Andrew Holden provided background to the Urban Pioneer, as part of Defra’s 25-year plan.

Andrew Holden said, “Our environment is a precious natural asset that provides us with numerous benefits such as clean water, clean air, food, timber, flood protection and recreation. 

"The Pioneer projects will help shape our long-term approach to the environment. We have set up four Pioneer project areas to trial and test new ways of working for local environmental benefits.

"There is a rural landscape in North Devon, an urban setting in Greater Manchester, a network of river catchments in Cumbria and a project on the marine environments off the coasts of Suffolk and North Devon.

“We want to design an effective approach to driving environmental improvement, tailored to the needs of our country that has a powerful and permanent impact – ensuring a healthy environment and strong economy.”

Paul Dennett was keen to express how key partner collaboration is to progressing projects that enhance and protect our natural environment as well as ensuring the region is prepared for climate change.

“Where we grow and develop within Greater Manchester and how we design its supporting infrastructure, including consideration of our natural capital, is critical to delivering our longer-term vision as a city-region.

“Devolution and the Urban Pioneer offers us a unique opportunity in Greater Manchester to protect and enhance the environmental quality and resilience of the conurbation; with its focus on strengthening the capacity and resilience of communities, whilst considering the balance between the built environment, infrastructure investment and environmental management. 

“These are really exciting times for Greater Manchester, which represent real opportunities for us to collaborate and apply natural capital ideas and concepts within a motivated and enthused city-region.” 

The conference was also an opportunity to introduce the EU Life Integrated Project, Natural Course, which through a collaboration of public, private and third sector organisations, will protect and improve the North West water environment.

Speaking about Natural Course was Mark Turner, Natural Course GM Team Leader at Greater Manchester Combined Authorities.

Mark said: “It was great to see such a variation of sectors attending on the day who were looking to find opportunities to adopt a natural capital approach. Through Natural Course, we are hoping to protect and improve Greater Manchester’s rivers, strengthening the city’s current natural capital.”

Taking place in the inspirational setting of The Lowry, it was a full house for all of the day, with delegates enjoying time to network and chat enthusiastically over lunch and post workshops.

The full collection of speaker presentations from the day can be viewed in our document library here and you can access the full suite of workshop presentations here.

*All images courtesy of Mike Beard.