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Blue Earth Summit 2023

20, October 2023


There are business conferences, and then there’s Blue Summit. This annual gathering in Bristol is described as “the only purpose-driven summit for people in business inspired by the great outdoors.” We were there to talk about Nature On the Board, but we were also there to listen and learn. And with an impressive line-up of speakers and events, there was no shortage of ‘wow moments’.

Business Brings Hope to Biodiversity

Business Brings Hope to Biodiversity

When you think of ways to save Nature, the corporate world might not be what springs to mind. But according to Deborah Meaden, of Dragon’s Den fame, business holds the key to saving our natural world.

“[Biodiversity] is our life support system, it’s everything. We’re nature, we’re part of that system,” she said.

Consumers are beginning to understand the power they have in helping the planet, and looking out for companies with strong eco credentials, especially B Corps. Businesses have to sit up and take notice of this. As do investors.

“Human beings are amazing, we can do anything,” said Deborah, “My worry isn’t that we won’t sort it out, but that we won’t do it in time. But business can do things fast… business is our great hope.”

The People Opening Up Nature for All

The People Opening Up Nature for All L-R: Tayshan Hayden-Smith, Lira Valencia and Liba Ravindran on the Just Futurity panel

As Professor David Olusoga OBE explained in his inspiring keynote speech, access to Nature in the UK isn’t always equal. Marginalised groups and ethnic minorities often experience prejudice and feel excluded from the great outdoors. And as more people move into cities, fewer have access to natural spaces. But happily, there are people working to change all that.

Lira Valencia, of Outside With Lira is the ‘urban wildlife queen’ and wildlife ranger on a mission to make the outdoors ‘diverse and cool’. Creative Director and CEO Ollie Olanipekun shares the “solace and magic” of Nature with others through Flock Together, a birdwatching collective for people of colour. And semi-professional football player, community activist and guerilla gardener Tayshan Hayden-Smith set up gardening non-profit Grow2Know in the shadow of Grenfell Tower. He reminded us of the modern proverb “If you don’t have a seat at the table, you’re on the menu.”

Nature On the Board

Nature On the Board Anne Hopkins, one of our Creative directors, discussing Nature On the Board. 

It was a joy for us to share Nature On the Board at not just one but three events at Blue Earth. In case you didn’t already know, in 2022 we became the first company in the world to appoint Nature to our board of directors.

The Rights of Nature legal movement is about moving away from the anthropocentric idea that we are more important than Nature, rather that we are a part of it.

As Brontie Ansell, the lawyer who represents Nature on our board, put it: “Old paradigms are coming to an end… A line has been drawn in the sand. Nature now has a voice, a vote and presence [in the boardroom].

Along with our Creative Director Simeon Rose, Brontie held a workshop at Blue Earth about putting Nature on the board. Judging by the number of people who attended, many other companies are interested in giving Nature a seat on their boards.

Inland Surfing and The Man Who Speaks Whale

Inland Surfing and The Man Who Speaks Whale Inland surfing at The Wave

The final day of the summit was held at the incredible Wave on the outskirts of Bristol. The Wave is an artificial wave pool where people can surf, surrounded by rolling Somerset countryside. We loved watching both beginner and pro surfers take to the turquoise waters, and hearing the waves crash on the shoreline sounded just like the real seaside.

As if inland surfing wasn’t impressive enough, we were also lucky enough to attend the amazing Whale Sound Bath, narrated by wildlife filmmaker and author Tom Mustill. Tom’s book, How to Speak Whale: A Voyage Into the Future of Animal Communication, is inspired by the terrifying moment his kayak was breached by a humpback whale. The book details how scientists are using robots and AI to decode the language of these amazing underwater mammals.  

We Can All Help Save Nature

We Can All Help Save Nature Matt Staniek, Founder of the Save Windermere campaign, at the Speaking Truth to Power community action workshop

“It may be tempting to think of those on the front line [of conservation] as the only ones who can make a difference. The truth is, however, that every one of us, no matter where we live, can and must play a part in restoring Nature to our isles.”

These are the words of Sir David Attenborough, in the important Save Our Wild Isles film, which was shown at Blue Earth.

We were bowled over by the countless passionate grass roots campaigners who we heard speak at the summit, proving everyone can help save our precious green and blue spaces. Wherever you live in the UK, there will be a project you can get involved in. We were especially inspired by speakers from River Action, Surfers Against Sewage and smaller, local organisations. Community action can make a huge difference – and make politicians sit up and listen.

Find out how you can get involved at Save Our Wild Isles.