Atkins delivers key insight to water industry on natural capital for Environment Agency

Atkins, a member of the SNC-Lavalin Group, has worked with the Environment Agency to develop and deliver a series of webinars on ‘Natural Capital for the Water Industry’.

The aim of these webinars was to engage with stakeholders from across the UK water industry to build a more consistent level of awareness and knowledge of the natural capital approach.

The Environment Agency is an executive non-departmental public body, sponsored by the Department for Environment, Food & Rural Affairs (Defra), which works to create better places for people and wildlife, and support sustainable development.

Defra’s 25 Year Environment Plan commits the UK government to putting the natural environment at the heart of decision making and better incorporating the value of nature and the benefits it provides to us all.

Natural capital is defined in the 25 Year Environment Plan as “the sum of our ecosystems, species, freshwater, land, soils, minerals, our air and our seas. These are all elements of nature that either directly or indirectly bring value to people and the country at large”.

The webinars were attended by over 350 industry stakeholders, where they intended to enable more effective conversations about natural capital approaches and metrics and drive better outcomes for people and the environment.

Atkins’ multidisciplinary team of senior natural capital experts and creative designers combined their expertise to ensure that key concepts, guidance and tools were articulated in an accessible format.

The webinars also used some of Atkins’ real-world examples of applying a natural capital approach to improve decision making in the water sector and deliver ‘best value’ for customers and stakeholders.

The examples discussed included using natural capital approaches to support the business case for catchment management programmes, quantification and valuation of environmental impacts of strategic water resources options, and innovative analyses for landowners to participate in Natural England’s biodiversity credits pilot.

The key features of the service provided by Atkins included:

  • Development of content for webinars and associated materials in collaboration with the Environment Agency.
  • Using experts’ industry networks to identify attendees and managing the invitation and registration process.
  • Designing a suite of branded graphics.
  • Delivering 2x webinars (with Q&A sessions) with a combined audience of >350 attendees across UK water companies, regulators, and industry bodies.
  • Delivering a drop-in surgery session to answer any further questions from attendees.
  • Producing an online video of the webinar content for ongoing learning.
  • Producing associated materials to sit alongside the webinars, including speaker notes, and a Q&A document.
  • Capturing data (e.g. webinar polls, attendee feedback) that has enabled the Environment Agency to develop further engagement materials.

Monica Barker, Associate (Natural Capital) at Atkins co-delivered the webinars, and said: “This was a fantastic opportunity to contribute to disseminating natural capital best practice across the water industry.

“We have been implementing and developing innovative approaches to account for the value of nature in decision making over many years, including on transport schemes, for managing urban green spaces, rural estates, and the UK water sector. It was great to draw on this experience to help the Environment Agency engage the industry on this important topic.”

Jonathan Nichols, Principal Natural Capital Consultant at Atkins also co-delivered the webinars, and said: “What I enjoyed most about delivering these webinars was the experience of co-creating materials together with the Environment Agency’s Natural Capital team.

“Combining Atkins’ experience of using natural capital approaches for water companies with the expertise of the EA provided the opportunity for some lively discussions on related concepts and emerging policy priorities like nature-based solutions and Environmental Net Gain.”

Kathrynne Moore, Senior Adviser in the Natural Capital Team at the Environment Agency said: “We planned these webinars to help start a conversation with the water industry about applying a natural capital approach in practice.

“We want to support them and others to use a natural capital approach to deliver better outcomes for people. I was so pleased to see so many colleagues from across the industry joining the webinars and actively participating, asking questions and answering the poll questions. It was great to work with Atkins to deliver these webinars and future learning products, and we thank them for their expertise and project management in this crucial industry engagement.”




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