eknleeds-city-centre-skylineBruce Howard, the Network Co-ordinator of the Ecosystems Knowledge Network writes about the upcoming conference ‘Building Prosperous Cities‘ on 27 September 2016 where the view of natural capital will be outwards from the City Hall, the office block and the housing block.


The classic image of natural capital is that of open country; our river systems, our woodlands, our mountains and moorlands, the tapestry of fields that cover precious soil resources. Cities are usually distant in this view of natural capital; the remote beneficiaries of an otherwise green, blue and pleasant scene.

This view doesn’t work in our urbanised world. Urban centres are where most people interact with and understand their environment. They are where most people live, learn and gain identity and inspiration. If we can’t apply the notion of natural capital to our cities, the idea might well remain in the hinterland of national thinking and investment. Cities are, after all, rich in all forms of capital – financial, social, built and natural.

This is where the event, Building Prosperous Cities, comes in. The focus of this exciting conference on 27th September is on determining what the added value of natural capital – and its well-established relation ‘green infrastructure’ – means for the planning and management of UK cities. What action will stimulate investment in natural features that are fit for purpose in the light of a changing climate and a growing population? How do we ensure that investment in built infrastructure is encouraged and coordinated, even in times of constrained finances?

The conference will hear from leading architect and urban planner Professor Tim Stonor, a member of the Lead Expert Group of the Foresight: The Future of Cities study. Environmental economist Ian Dickie from eftec will help us explore the natural capital concept. Alongside this there will be case study presentations and sessions on critical issues such as investment and the monitoring of natural capital and green infrastructure. The aim is that delegates will come away with a clear understanding of what should happen at the city scale to provide natural capital and green infrastructure that is fit for the future.

This is not an event to simply promote the ideas of natural capital and green infrastructure. It is a place to understand different professional perspectives on what the added value is. We’ll ask what can be achieved using the ideas of natural capital and green infrastructure that would otherwise not be possible. Chairpersons Sir Michael Lyons (former CEO of Birmingham City Council) and Anne Selby (Chair of the Local Nature Partnership for Greater Manchester) will help us through this.

We’ll be building on conversations that were started at the Natural Capital Initiative’s Valuing our Life Support Systems II summit in 2014.  NCI is a supporting partner in Building Prosperous Cities.

Join us at the City Hall, London, 27th September 2016

  • Book your place at https://ecosystemsknowledge.netevents/building-prosperous-cities
  • Contact Bruce Howard info@ecosystemsknowledge.net