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Investing in a greener Greater Manchester

The event, hosted at the Bright Building on Manchester Science Park, was attended by representatives of leading Greater Manchester businesses, brought togetehr by pro-manchester’s Green Economy sector group.

Delegates were tasked with generating ideas on how the city can create a natural environment, worthy of one of Europe’s pioneering green cities, and there was a strong consensus that Greater Manchester can lead the way in the drive for investment in the natural environment.

The outputs from the listening events will feed into the Green Summit in March, which will bring together environmental experts, interest groups, partner agencies, academics and local people to establish a ‘green charter’, accelerate Greater Manchester’s green ambitions, and explore the earliest possible milestones for achieving carbon neutrality.

Participants heard from representatives of some of the region’s leading businesses, including United Utilities, Peel, Bruntwood and Skanska, about how and why they are choosing to invest in the natural environment and the benefits they are delivering not only for the businesses, but for wider society and the environment.

“Investing in the natural environment will bring major benefits to everyone living and working within Greater Manchester,” said Tom Butterworth, Technical Director for Biodiversity at WSP, who chaired the event.

“High quality green spaces can reduce flood risk, help to improve air quality and enhance physical and mental wellbeing. But it will also bring a number of direct benefits for businesses, such as an increased ability to attract and retain the high-quality workforce needed to be a leading city economy, and greater inward investment.”

Participants discussed the barriers preventing greater investment in the natural environment, such as the lack of a clear, consistent methodology for valuing and accounting for it; and the absence of a city-wide vision to stimulate a sense of ownership amongst the people who live and work in the area.

Among the solutions put forward by delegates were:

  • The introduction of Natural Capital Accounting as a planning requirement
  • The development of a standardised methodology of assessing the value of the natural environment and related services
  • The creation of an online platform through which individuals and businesses can see natural environment investment propositions in the city region and choose to crowdfund them
  • The introduction of incentives for businesses to invest more in the natural environment

“This event provided a useful starting point and some positive ideas for concrete actions that could help stimulate greater investment in the natural environment of Greater Manchester,” added Tom Butterworth.

“The findings will feed into preparations for the Mayor’s Green Summit, which will be a vital event for the city region’s businesses, local government, communities and voluntary organisations to have their say on the kind of Greater Manchester they want.

"We have an opportunity to make Greater Manchester a truly pioneering green city, but to make it happen we need the support and commitment of all stakeholders.”

Krista Patrick, Natural Capital Coordinator at Greater Manchester Combined Authority, added:

“This listening event was a great success, providing valuable insight from the business community on how to achieve our goal of making Greater Manchester a leading green and carbon-neutral city region.

We are keen to engage with as many stakeholders as possible, so if you haven’t done so already, take five minutes to complete our survey, sharing your priorities and ideas for creating a natural, liveable and successful city region.”

Interested parties who wish to contribute their thoughts to making Greater Manchester a leading green city-region can complete this survey.

Notes from the events can be viewed here.

You can also find out more about the Mayor of Greater Manchester’s Green Summit, which will take place on 21 March 2018, here.