[23 November 2023]

The Waterline Summit

The Waterline Summit 2023 – the largest decarbonisation event in the North of England

The Waterline Summit 2023 took place at the Aura Innovation Centre from 13 – 15 November with three jam-packed days of talks, discussions, learning and ideas about how to tackle the world’s greatest problem: climate change.

Credit: Neil Holmes Photography

The Waterline campaign is an ambitious initiative to position the Humber as a global demonstrator tackling the challenges of climate change and building on the assets and advantages, the skills and capabilities we have here in the region. This year’s event had a clear focus on action and impact, and wanted to empower and inspire everyone to get on board with net zero, from businesses to academics, students to politicians, multinational companies to small enterprises.

If you were unable to attend here we have a full summary of all the events, to dispel those feelings of FOMO!


After an enjoyable breakfast of buttys and pastries the event kicked off with The Waterline Launch, with keynote speaker the Rt Hon Chris Skidmore MP, architect of the Government’s Net Zero plans through the publication of his Net Zero Review. Joining the event remotely, he underlined how industrial decarbonisation can allow the UK to go further and faster. He went on to say: “Why I’m so keen to see the Humber deliver is it will demonstrate not only that the challenges aren’t insurmountable, but that Net Zero will succeed. What is critical now is we maintain this narrative of clean growth, and that decarbonisation will not lead to deindustrialisation.”

NP11 chair, Clare Hayward MBE then took the reigns to chair a panel  of local and national experts for advice on how we can tackle climate change.  Panelists included Chief Executive of the Northern Powerhouse Henri Murison; Interim Director of  Energy and Environment Institute, Professor Briony McDonagh; Arianna Abdul-Nour, Co-Chair of the COP28 FLN Delegation; Corrine Barry, East Coast Director of RWE and Rt Hon Chris Skidmore MP who stayed to join the discussion online.

Pictured: The Waterline Summit 2023. Clare Hayward, the Acting Chair of NP11 (Credit: Neil Holmes Potopgraphy)

Clare opened the discussion by saying: “The Humber is demonstrating climate leadership, because of what you have done, the transition you can make, and you have been able to give it vision. You should feel really proud of what you have achieved.”

Credit: Neil Holmes Photography

To read a full account of the event and more on Clare Hayward’s passionate assessment of the Humber visit Business Live – The Waterline: North’s praise for Energy Estuary stance on the route to Net Zero

After the well attended launch event, came Net Zero Humber: How far we have come – a panel discussion focused on what progress has been made in the Humber region so far and where we are in the journey to net zero right now.

Pictured: The Waterline Summit 2023, Deb Oxley, OBE DL. Credit: Neil Holmes Photography

Hosted by Deb Oxley, OBE DL, the panel discussion brought together leaders from some of the region’s leading companies to share their decarbonisation journey and their future plans. Deb Oxley was joined by panellists Sue Allen, CFO of Willerby; Dr Sarah Shaw, Logistics and Supply Chain Management at University of Hull; Lloyd Atkin, Managing Director of Bio-D; Maggie Short, Global Procurement Lead, CSR, Sustainability & Supplier Diversity at Smith & Nephew; Lizzie Wilkinson, Domestic Product Director at Groupe Atlantic and Paul Andrews, Director of Global Energy at Smith & Nephew.

After some engaging discussion on the importance of business collaboration to achieve net zero the number one top tip the panellists provided was for businesses to “just make a start! Making that big leap is the first challenge but once you do you will find there is a lot help and support out there.”

Credit: Neil Holmes Photogrpahy

The afternoon of the first day of the summit was dedicated to future generations, including the announcement of the winner’s of this year’s Waterline Student Sustainability Challenge, this year brought to life by a partnership between Phillips 66 and Hull KR Foundation.

The challenge which invited teams from years 9 and 10 from schools on both sides of the Humber to come up with new and innovative projects to help tackle climate change. After a series of rounds the top projects where selected to exhibit at Aura Innovation Centre to present their projects to a team of judges. The team from Sir John Nelthorpe School were crowned the winners, with the judges remarking that the project was well researched and well presented. Their project being a proposal to introduce more seaweed farms to the Humber region. The team have picked up £5,000 towards STEM projects for their school and have trips to Phillips 66 Humber Refinery and Sewell Group Craven Park to enjoy, and a trip to London to visit the Phillips 66 London Office and the Houses of Parliament – many congratulations.

Credit: Neil Holmes Photography


The second day of The Waterline looked at how the Humber can adapt and become more resilient to the changing climate.

The first event of the day saw the University’s Energy and Environment Institute join up with global sustainability leaders, Arup to host an event exploring planning for a positive future in the face of climate change. The event included a practical workshop sharing engagement approaches from the University’s Risky Cities project, as well as a panel discussion featuring Will McBain and Ros Vose from Arup; Jade Fernandez of SSE; Richard Jackson and Helen Jenkins-Knight of East Riding of Yorkshire Council; and Prof Briony McDonagh. Jade Fernandez works with communities to tell the net zero story and make sure they feel they benefit, she stressed the importance of involving stakeholders in planning: “We need to take communities along with us especially when they face pressures like the cost of living crisis”.

The afternoon saw an event hosted by the University’s Knowledge Exchange Team. The event showcased the current KTPs with the university, and featured KTP Associate Dr Jon Carrick discussing his current project with local telecommunications and broadband company, Connexin, Dr John Dixon about his partnership with Sargent Electrical and Dr Linda Whicker and Dr Sarah Shaw highlighting a new KTP with Wren Kitchens, explaining the range and breadth of what the KTP programme can offer a business.

The third day closed with a drinks reception hosted by the Humber Offshore Wind Cluster to celebrate the successes of 2023. Lauren Little, Senior Stakeholder Advisor for Orsted provided great insight into the Offshore Wind Sector and the achievements made by the Cluster so far. In her introduction Lauren Little explained that the successes have not come without their challenges, saying“ This year the offshore wind industry in the UK and around the world has faced headwinds. Our industry is maturing and we’re experiencing challenges, so we have to adapt.” An insightful panel discussion followed which provided an overview into key themes including biodiversity and infrastructure. The panel included Andy Pearson, Project Manager at Active Training Team, Kieran McCloskey, Marine Restoration Manager at Wilder Humber and Andy Sykes, Plant Director at the Siemens Gamesa blade factory in Hull.

Guests then had a chance to network, reflecting on what had been discussed and celebrate achievements with a glass of fizz.


On the closing day of The Waterline Summit 2023 partners came together to talk about the value of innovation and collaboration in the Humber. Focused on the opportunities presented particularly by Humber Freeport and Humber 2030 Vision, the Humber region’s masterplan to decarbonise what is the UK’s largest emitting industrial cluster, the panel discussed the successes and challenges forged by collaboration.

Credit: Neil Holmes Photography

Host, Richard Gwilliam, UK BECCS Programme Director at Drax started the session by explaining more about the environment in which we operate and stating that net zero will not be achieved without working together. Richard was joined by panellists; Simon Green, Interim CEO of Humber Freeport; Harry Jones, Freeports Programme Director, Department for Levelling Up, Housing and Communities; Jo Barnes, Managing Director of Sewell Estates; Chris Gilbert, Humber Decarbonisation Project Manager at Phillips 66 and Katie Hedges, Head of Membership & Low Carbon Strategy at CATCH.

Credit: Neil Holmes Photography

Click here to read a full account of the event from our delivery partners Future Humber.

Bill Walker, Chair of Future Humber closed the event with praise for all involved in The Waterline Summit. Bill thanked their “magnificent partners,” University of Hull and praised the “fantastic hosts,” the Aura Innovation Centre.