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Private Capital Key to UK Flood Management  

Private sector capital could help to finance natural flood management (NFM) if barriers were removed, the UK’s NFM Strategic Working Group has found. Convened by the Green Finance Institute (GFI) and commissioned by the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (Defra), the working group set out key recommendations to scale private sector finance into NFM in an expert-led report. It said that a standardised approach could help, including the establishment of an asset register and open-access mapping and modelling. The working group also found examples where the UK private sector had paid for flood risk reduction, such as the Wyre Catchment Natural Flood Management Project, in which water company United Utilities was part of the buyer consortium. “Barely a month goes by without reference to unprecedented weather as our climate changes,” said Keith Ashcroft, Chair of the NFM Strategic Working Group and Chair of the Lake District Foundation. “Flooding causes life-changing impacts on communities and businesses. Working with nature to slow the flow through NFM is a key element in reducing devastating impacts.” The report identified flooding as the number one natural hazard in the UK, costing the country £2.2 billion (US$2.8 billion) each year and putting more strain on the public purse as climate change intensifies. Key enabling solutions recommended by the GFI working group included: strategic prioritization of NFM; an NFM asset database; a natural capital assessment tool framework; funding for buyer facilitation and partnership development; NFM design standards and guidance; clarity on ecosystem service stacking; an update to grant-in-aid funding processes. “NFM has huge potential to boost the UK’s resilience to flooding, but requires greater participation from the private sector as buyers of outcomes,” said Helen Avery, Director of Nature Programmes at the GFI. “The recommendations in this report serve to provide the confidence the private sector requires, and a standardised approach to developing NFM projects to more easily attract buyers.” 


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