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Investing in natural environment is good for our economy as well as our health says new report

  • Greater Manchester is developing an innovative Natural Capital Investment Plan – first of its kind for a UK city region

  • Securing the long-term future of our environment delivers social and financial returns

  • Plan is a result of last year’s Green Summit and key component of forthcoming five-year environmental plan for Greater Manchester

Showcased at a special event held at the Science and Industry Museum on in February, a report prepared by an expert team of financial and economic consultant sets out a range of financial investment models that could lead to significant investment in Greater Manchester’s natural environment.

The focus of the plan is on attracting investment into the natural environment upon which our future prosperity and well-being depend. Investing in the natural environment will not only secure the long-term future of Greater Manchester’s vital green “assets” but will deliver financial and social returns. In other words it’s good for our economy as well as good for our health.

Green City Region lead, Councillor Alex Ganotis opened the event talking about Greater Manchester’s journey so far and how natural capital investment plans can happen, he said: “This incredible plan is the first of its kind for a city region in the UK, and is another step on Greater Manchester’s road to becoming one of the greenest places in Europe.

“Through sound financial thinking we can determine the monetary as well as the social benefits our natural environment provides. And if we do that, we can encourage investment into those assets, securing their future for the long term.

“You can say a tree is priceless, but it is not value-less. A rain garden makes a building attractive, but it also absorbs waste water which saves on people’s utility bills – there’s a clear financial benefit to that investment.

“Our natural environment is about so much more than aesthetics and our city balance sheets and strategies need to recognise that. It improves our physical and mental health, provides attractive spaces to live and work (which encourages investment), helps protect against the risks of climate change and flooding, encourages sustainable travel, and helps to improve our air quality.”

A natural capital account has been developed for Greater Manchester, which tells us how our natural environment is performing in terms of the services it provides to society. Each year Greater Manchester receives nearly £900m of benefits from its existing natural capital.

The Natural Capital Investment plan came out of last year’s Green Summit and will be a key component of Greater Manchester’s forthcoming five-year environment plan, to be announced at a second Green Summit in March 2019.

The Natural Capital Investment Plan links to the consultation and work currently ongoing by Greater Manchester Combined Authority focusing on the city-region’s plan for Homes, Jobs and the Environment.

Greater Manchester’s Plan for Jobs, Homes and the Environment is about providing the additional 50,000 additional homes needed to solve the housing crisis, whilst also focusing on the reduction in proposed green belt.

In undertaking this ambitious plan, Greater Manchester is joining a number of cities and city regions around the globe formulating new ways of financing environmental improvements, including Washington DC and Malmö in Sweden.

Together we are going beyond simply the installation of engineered 'green' technologies such as LED lighting, to making sure we have the vital environmental infrastructure – greenspaces, peatlands, woodland, clean rivers – that deliver benefits such as flood risk reduction, carbon sequestration, air quality improvement and health benefits.

In 2016, Washington DC was the site of a pioneering US$25 million Environmental Impact Bond. Greater Manchester is now eyeing up equally ambitious finance models to suit its needs.

Speakers at the event included:

  • Mark Atherton, Assistant Director of Environment, Greater Manchester Combined Authority
  • Chris Matthews, Vice Chair, GM Natural Capital Group & Head of Sustainability, United Utilities
  • Cllr Alex Ganotis, Leader Stockport Council and GM Lead for the Green City Region
  • Neil Davies, Director of Future Funding, Environment Agency
  • Louise Wilson, Co-founder and Managing Director, Abundance Investment
  • Ian Dickie, Director, Eftec
  • Becky Coffin, Head of Sustainability and Environment at Heathrow
  • Mick Weston, Head of Operations, Lancashire Wildlife Trust
  • Dan Hird, Head of Corporate Finance, Triodos Bank
  • Dusty Gedge, President, European Federation of Green Roof and Wall Associations
  • Andrew Bester, Chief Executive Officer, The Cooperative Bank

Ecosystems Knowledge Network live streamed the event, if you wanted to catch up please visit their website.

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Article Published: 06/02/2019 15:52 PM