Innovation and investment in the environment and communities the theme of Green Halo Partnership ConferencePUBLISHED ON: 12 DECEMBER 2022
Around 40 organisations from across the south met at the Green Halo Partnership Conference, exploring ways of securing investment in our natural capital: the stock of world class natural resources here in the south that can underpin a thriving economically successful community.
The Conference focused on ‘Investing in our Future’, including opportunities for securing green finance and how investment in nature can support our health and wellbeing and avoid future health care costs. Attendees learned how to secure investments for schemes that enhance the natural and built environment, grow our economy, build green skills and meet the needs of local communities.
The United Nations Environment Programme has estimated that investments in nature-based solutions need to triple by 2030, with a significant part of this investment coming from the private sector, complementing what might come from government and public sources.
Inspirational speakers at the conference, held at Ordnance Survey’s head office in Southampton, included a keynote address from Lord Kerslake who joined online from Westminster. The former Head of the Civil Service was recently appointed as Chair of FuturePlaces, a wholly owned urban regeneration company within Bournemouth Christchurch and Poole Council.
He discussed aligning positive growth and finding ways to develop the built environment alongside enhancing and protecting nature. He added: ‘The Green Halo Partnership is a very strong initiative. I particularly like its powerful vision of the benefits of natural capital, and seeking to be an exemplar of landscape working in partnership with local communities.’
Other speakers joining in person included:
- Gary Wilburn, Managing Director at EP Group, on investing in our natural and built environment.
- Chris Fry from Accelar, on finding out more about green finance
- Olivia McGregor, from the New Forest NPA on investment models for nature restoration and climate resilience in the National Park
- Dr James Alden from Frimley Health NHS Trust, on the importance of access to greenspace for health and wellbeing
- Ruth Wharton, BCP (Bournemouth, Christchurch, Poole) Council on the Stour Valley Project
- Rhian Edwards from Environment Agency, on the Lymington-Hurst Spit Project.
The Conference was opened by Nick Giles, Managing Director of Ordnance Survey Leisure.
Dr James Alden said: ‘The natural environment is increasingly recognised as vital to our health and wellbeing. It also mitigates the health effects of inequality. Valuing this benefit in monetary terms is challenging, but in doing so gives us a valuable tool to bring the conversation to different stakeholders and widen recognition of health and wellbeing as an important consideration in policymaking of all types.
‘As we look to the future, improving our relationship with the natural environment is essential to improving our population’s health.’
Alison Barnes, Green Halo Partnership Convenor and CEO of the New Forest National Park Authority said: ‘It was fantastic to be back in person for the first time since the pandemic; bringing together the people and the innovative ideas needed for us to lead the way in securing investment in our environment.
‘The twin climate and nature crises require ever more urgent action across organisations and sectors if we are to transition to a net-zero and nature-positive economy. The conference highlighted how the opportunities for nature-based solutions reach beyond boundaries to the east and the west of the New Forest; there is significant appetite among partners for us to be a global exemplar in showing how it is possible to enhance our natural capital and support the health of communities and the growing green economy.
‘If we work effectively together, we have the opportunity to be at the forefront of the so-called “green revolution”.’
About the Green Halo Partnership
The Partnership brings together businesses, universities, charities and communities to ensure our world class environment in and around the New Forest National Park flourishes as an integral part of our wider area’s thriving economy and society.
The New Forest is one of Europe’s best sanctuaries for nature, situated in the busy south east of England and surrounded by Southampton, Bournemouth, Poole and Salisbury. Beyond the National Park’s boundaries, from Cranborne Chase to Purbeck, the South Downs to the Solent, much of this part of southern England is internationally valued because of the quality of the natural environment.
Our Partnership wants to ensure that the natural environment is seen as an integral part of how we work and live.
Our ambition is not constrained by administrative boundaries, opportunities can come from all areas and all sectors in and around the National Park – hence the Green Halo.
By recognising the contribution our natural environment makes to the local economy and society and bringing together a series of actions and projects, our Partnership wants to ensure that both the National Park and its surroundings work to protect and improve that environment.
Our vision is to be a global exemplar of how our most precious landscapes can work in harmony with a thriving, economically successful community.
For details see www.newforestnpa.gov.uk/greenhalo.
All presentations from the 2022 conference are available at www.greenhalo.org.uk/past-events/