Head of Stockport Council, Alex Ganotis, is leading Greater Manchester’s drive to becoming one of the greenest places in Europe by developing an innovative Natural Capital Investment Plan.
A Natural Capital Investment Plan would be the first of its kind for a UK city region and 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, 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.
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.
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.”
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.
- 28th February –Ecosystem Knowledge Network Natural Capital Investment Conference, London
- 25th March – Greater Manchester Mayors Green Summit II, Salford
- 26th-27th March GrowGreen conference: Innovative financing for creating green cities, Manchester