We have a unique opportunity to influence the UK government as they produce a 25 Year Environment Plan. This aims to bring together government, business, the public, and environmental groups, connecting each and every one of us to nature in order to harness enthusiasm and deliver improvements to the environment following the EU Referendum. The Plan could provide the overarching umbrella that guides future regulatory frameworks, setting the direction for conservation and environmental policy in the UK for years to come.
What is the 25 Year Environment Plan?
The 25 Year Plan is a long-term management strategy for the environment, which recognises the enormous contribution that nature makes to our wellbeing and our economy. It’s designed to ensure that these contributions can continue for generations to come, with a focus on reversing the long-term decline we have seen in our natural environment that has caused growing social and economic costs.
The Plan will be underpinned by the concept of natural capital, meaning it will take account of the full range of “natural assets” that give benefits to humans, such as forests and urban green spaces that provide clean air, absorb carbon and provide recreation, as well as rivers that provide freshwater for drinking, wetlands that provide protection from floods, and oceans that provide seafood and generate energy.
Why is the 25 Year Environment Plan important?
Back in 2011 the government made a commitment to protect our natural environment for future generations. But since then we’ve seen first-hand the impacts of ongoing environmental decline, such as climate change and floods, increasing water shortages, and health costs from pollution – these are significantly affecting our economy, resilience and wellbeing as a society. With the population growing and our demands rising with it, our planet’s natural resources are diminishing faster than they can be replenished. We need to reverse this decline in our natural assets both here in the UK and abroad.
Following the EU Referendum result, and given that the UK now has the scope to think about what environmental legislation we will need outside of the EU, we have a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to dramatically improve the way we manage our environment and natural resources. Through collaboration of government, business and individuals, we can lead the way in protecting our natural capital, and change the way we perceive nature, recognising it is a fundamental underpinning to our society and economy.
If we want the UK to be world leader in the management of natural capital , there are several key elements that must be included in the Plan for it to be successful – these are discussed in more detail in our Policy Briefing Document.
|The plan must||Rationale|
|Set ambitious, measureable goals, a legally enforceable action plan to deliver these, a strong regulatory framework and a transparent monitoring system||
|Involve all government departments and public bodies in the design of the plan, and hold them accountable for how their policies and actions will affect the delivery of the plan.||
|The Government must provide sufficient investment to achieve these targets and must mobilise additional finance from the private sector through an appropriate regulatory framework and system of incentives.||
|Show leadership on the world stage by including a goal in the Plan specifically focused on measuring and managing the UK’s impact on the environment in other countries through the products we import.||
How can businesses get involved?
Many businesses are now taking steps to assess their dependence and impacts on natural capital, such as evaluating their use of raw materials and water, through to monitoring waste production and carbon emissions - but more businesses need to follow these examples.
Businesses will soon have the opportunity to influence the development of future policy and regulation governing natural capital. This will be through a public consultation. We are seeking to work with business to ensure a strong collective response to the consultation, as well as providing on-going engagement with the government throughout the development of the Plan in order to maximise business contribution.
If you would like to work with us, please contact Dean Cambridge for further information.
Up and coming events
21st February – Register to attend HERE
Natural capital policy innovation: implications and opportunities for business, London: Join WWF, the Natural Capital Coalition and the Institute of Chartered Accountants in England and Wales to discuss the implications and opportunities facing business as Natural Capital policy develops.
Hilary Lindsay, ICAEW President;
Tanya Steele, WWF-UK Chief Executive;
John Lelliott, Natural Capital Coalition Chair.
John Elkington, Executive Chairman and Co-Founder at Volans.
If you are interested in any of the events and would like more information please contact us.