Events Webinar: Bringing natural capital into the heart of decision making – an exemplar of best practice in the South West

Bringing natural capital into the heart of decision making: An exemplar of best practice in the South West England

We would like to share with you ‘The Story of SWEEP’, a remarkable 6-year endeavour to establish the importance of nature in underpinning all our economic and wellbeing activity.

Webinar Details
16th May 2023
2:00 pm
Ecosystems Knowledge Network


The climate and biodiversity crises, combined with the need to address social inequality, mean we have to grasp and embrace new, integrated ways of working that enable a more resilient and enhanced natural environment, producing gains for business, government and society. The South West Partnership for Environment and Economic Prosperity (SWEEP) has delivered a proven approach showing how strategic funding (£5 million funding from the Natural Environment Research Council, and £7.3 million partner match funding) can unlock the value of research to society and the economy, at scale.

SWEEP officially concluded in January 2023, and was a collaboration formed in 2017 between the Universities of Exeter, Plymouth and Plymouth Marine Laboratory. Its projects were carried out with over 300 partners, ranging from local authorities to businesses, charities and social enterprises, with the aim of bringing cutting edge environmental and economic research into the heart of decision-making.

The idea at the heart of SWEEP was to transform a culture of decision-making that has too often focused on improving one area of the economy or environment, only to result in unintended negative consequences for others. SWEEP considered the whole environmental and economic system. It recognised the need to work at larger spatial scales, combining landscapes, river catchments, coastal zones and seascapes. It sought to overcome the challenge of separate responsibilities for different, but linked, parts of our land, freshwaters and seas.

SWEEP has delivered huge impacts, with each pound of public money invested generating a rate of return that is better value for money than almost any public spending or conventional investments – SWEEP is calculated to have influenced £115 million of partner investments, £25 million of cost savings to business and the public purse, £35 million GVA and 327 jobs to date, mostly in the South West. Tangible environmental benefits include 304 km2 seabed protected, 84 km2 pollinator habitat created and 3,626 km2 natural space designed for health and wellbeing.

Achievements included tackling pollinator decline through robust business cases; transforming the way the marine environment is valued and managedenabling more sustainable landscape management through the use of remote-sensing tools; evidencing the importance of natural spaces for health and wellbeing; and supporting the sustainable expansion of aquaculture in the South West.


Joining us from the University of Exeter

Prof Ian Bateman, SWEEP Director

Dr Diana Tingley, SWEEP Impact Evaluation Manager

Dr Dawn Scott, SWEEP Programme Manager