Resources An Environment for Collaboration

An Environment for Collaboration

Francesca Boyd's profile picture

Francesca Boyd

13 July 2023

An EKN team member’s perspective on what makes EKN unique and impactful
As the newest member of the EKN team, I wanted to take a moment to reflect on what I’ve learnt since I started four months ago.  A unique attribute of EKN is the range of professions and sectors represented in our membership. From aquaculture to architecture and ecology to economics, it extends well beyond the traditional ‘environment sector’. This means that the diversity of topics that we engage with in any one day is particularly great.

In any one day as the Knowledge Exchange Leader, I can spend the morning discussing how NHS estate managers can benefit from integrating nature into infrastructure and interventions, to an afternoon looking into how digital games are changing children’s interest in plants.

The breadth of organisations and professions whose work has a bearing on the state of the UK natural environment is vast. When these different sectors work together, it’s incredible what can be achieved. We are seeing that, for example, in the growing arena of financial innovation for the restoration of land, water and nature. Take, for example, the work of Triodos Bank UK’s corporate finance team in enabling genuine investment in natural flood management in Lancashire: financial services professionals using their expertise to bring gains for people and nature.

EKN is all about harnessing the power of networking and sharing of innovation and expertise. Whilst a challenge shared may not be a challenge halved, the collaboration that EKN fosters enables more innovative solutions to be found. In this sector, I have noticed that shared learning across the internal borders of the UK is increasingly valuable. Building with Nature, a key standard to bring nature into new built development, was first introduced to Scotland through one of our events in London.

The impact of EKN is evidenced by our recent members survey. This gathered insight from members representing 115 organisations in the public, private and third sectors. Reviewing the results showed the value of this different collaborative opportunities. Including that respondents were very likely to recommend the network for a colleague and found it beneficial to their work.

“I have been a member of EKN and used your excellent resources/events throughout my 10-year career so far. Thank you for your great work, I look forward to learning from you for another 10 years and beyond!

Members’ survey 2023 response

A perk of the job is to receive emails from people across the UK providing insight into their incredible work to connect environment, wellbeing and prosperity. It has been a joy bringing together these project launches, milestones and achievements. The power of sharing these stories should not be underestimated. As featured in our March newsletter, the work occurring within the Tweed Forum in the Scottish Borders is just one example of a project achieving incredible progress for the local community, land managers and the environment through partnership working.

In April, I attended a book launch at the University of Cardiff, which brought together a collection of academic and practitioners to demonstrate the opportunities to engage young people with unfamiliar landscapes.

The book, ‘Unfamiliar landscapes: young people and diverse outdoor experiences’ explores how young people are introduced to landscapes through environmental education, outdoor recreation, and youth-led learning, drawing on diverse examples of green, blue, outdoor, or natural landscapes. The connections with nature are fascinating, from a bay tree leaf bringing memories of home to refugees, through to the emotional impact of canoeing with a new group of people in Ontario.

As I settle into my role of Knowledge Exchange Leader, I’m exploring different ways we can continue to encourage the sharing of knowledge and achievements of all our members and the other professionals we interact with. We are now preparing for our Nature Finance UK Conference 2023. Now in its sixth year, this leading event is expected to attract 400 professionals from corporates, financial services and environmental projects to increase the role of private money in the stewardship of land, water and nature.

Ultimately, starting work at EKN has reminded me of what can be achieved when we work together across professional and geographical boundaries for the benefit of the natural environment, and everything it is connected to. From the protection of an endangered flower in Wales to creating local urban green spaces that match the needs of local children. When we work together, learn from each other, we can create an environment where people and Planet can genuinely prosper.