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Yorkshire businesses come together to tackle social and environmental challenges

Representatives from more than 50 businesses, charities and government organisations gathered in Leeds recently to explore how Yorkshire can continue to lead the way in tackling some of the biggest issues facing the country, including dealing with the climate emergency and ensuring inclusive growth. 

The meeting of local and national leaders in sustainability was at the first ever ‘Growing Social Value Through The Six Capitals’ conference, organised by Yorkshire Water, alongside partners Arup and Stantec. 

The Six Capitals is a concept that helps organisations to make more sustainable decisions by thinking beyond the traditional financial balance sheet and valuing the wide range of resources that we all rely and impact on - natural, social, human, manufactured, intellectual and financial capital.  The aim is that by measuring the full impact of their decisions, organisations will make more sustainable, long term choices. Yorkshire Water has won an award for its global leadership in applying the Six Capitals approach to help shape its plans and investment choices to better protect and grow the outcomes it delivers for the society it serves. 

Delegates heard from 32 speakers from organisations across a range of sectors, including the Environment Agency, Joseph Rowntree Foundation, National Trust, Leeds City Council, Drax and Citu, who all highlighted the need to work together to take the next steps in ensuring Yorkshire continues to lead the way on sustainability.  

The conference heard about some of the pioneering work already underway in the region including: 

Yorkshire Water and KeyLand Development’s plans for an internationally best practice sustainable development of new housing and business on brownfield land at Esholt waste water treatment works in Bradford.  As well as creating skilled jobs for the local economy, the development includes for ultra-low water use homes which will use no more than 80 litres per person per day, much lower than the national average of 141 litres. 

  • Multi-agency collaboration in Leeds, which is now being replicated by other cities, to establish the world’s first city-scale Climate Commission and a roadmap to achieve the commitment to net-zero carbon emissions.  

  • Leadership from the Living with Water partnership in Hull and the East Riding of Yorkshire to improve resilience to flooding by applying natural techniques as well as traditional hard-engineering approaches, combined with innovative community engagement. 

  • Drax, Orsted and Yorkshire Water’s large-scale investments in renewable energy to decarbonise energy supplies as part of strategies to transform their business models to low carbon approaches. Yorkshire Water recently opened its £72m investment in a new anaerobic digestor facility at Knostrop Energy & Recycling Centre, which is now generating enough clean energy to power the equivalent to 8,000 homes.

Yorkshire Water’s Head of Sustainability, Gordon Rogers, said: “The Yorkshire region faces some very difficult challenges and the only way we can fully address them is by Anchor Institutions like Yorkshire Water working together with other businesses and communities to ensure green, sustainable growth in which all parts of our communities can benefit.“ 

“Whilst the challenges we face are significant, so are the opportunities to not only meet them but to go further and do even more for our communities and the environment. It is clear that there is a lot of good work taking place in Yorkshire and the conference has been a great way to bring people together and create a real appetite to work together to deliver for the region.” 

You can find a video with highlights from the conference here.

The agenda here.

Presentation slides from Day 1 and Day 2.

Organisation attendance list are also available here.

And you can find out more about Yorkshire Water’s approach to the Six Capitals here

Yorkshire Water's ‘Growing Social Value Through The Six Capitals’ conference

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