[08 November 2022]

The Waterline Summit

The Waterline Summit 2022 – the largest decarbonisation event in the North of England

The Waterline Summit 2022 took place at the Aura Innovation Centre from 17-19 October, with three jam-packed days of talks, discussions, learning and ideas about how to tackle the world’s greatest problem: climate change.

This year’s event had a clear focus on action and change, and wanted to empower and inspire everyone to get on board with net zero, from businesses to academics, students to Olympians, multinational companies to small enterprises.

Couldn’t be there, or only managed to get to a couple of events?  Don’t worry, we’ve got a full summary and audio recordings of all the events, so you won’t miss out.

Day one: launch day

The event kicked off with The Waterline Launch, hosted by renowned television presenter and broadcast journalist Louise Minchin, who interviewed local and national experts for advice on how we can tackle climate change.  Panelists included Vice-Chancellor of the University of Hull Professor Dave Petley, Chris Huhne, former Secretary of State for Energy and Climate Change, Cathy Yitong Li, OneStepGreener Ambassador at COP26, Mark Goldstone of the CBI, and Jenny Sutcliffe from Phillips 66.

Professor Petley emphasised how everyone needs to work together to tackle climate change: “It is critical for us to stem the tide and make the changes necessary to avert the worst of the climate crisis,” he said.  “Doing so will require stakeholders from all walks of society coming together and collaborating towards our net zero goals.”

Listen to The Waterline launch.

After the well attended launch event, came Waterline Live – an omnichannel climate change series which takes a global view.  It started off looking at the current state of play – where are we with climate change?  Then a series of experts talked through how the Humber is responding to the threat, and steps you can take to decarbonise.  All sorts of topics impacting climate change were discussed, from global emissions during the pandemic, to the push for stronger government policy, to the role of Russian geopolitics on the energy and commodities markets.  You can see clips from Waterline Line on Marketing Humber’s YouTube channel.

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.  Ove 150 students packed into the Aura Innovation Centre to take part in interactive experiences and exhibitions hosted by key regional businesses, to give them an insight into the exciting projects happening in their region.  They also had an inspirational talk from three-time Olympic champion cyclist Ed Clancy OBE, who shared his tips on how to succeed in the most high-pressure environments.  His advice on marginal gains – breaking down a huge challenge into small, manageable parts – is particularly relevant to climate change.

Ed Clancy: “In terms of the environment, and making a sustainable change, I don’t think anyone’s going to come along with a magic wand and fix global warming.  I think it’s going to be lots and lots of small components added up that’s going to make a different, and everyone’s got to play a part.”

Olympic cyclist Ed Clancy in front of an Aura Innovation Centre banner holding medals

The highlight of the first day was the presentation of the prizes to the winning students, with a team from Engineering UTC Northern Lincolnshire winning the top prize of £2,000 for their school and a trip to Norway with sponsor Equinor.  They also received a special trophy, 3D printed from recycled waste plastic at the Aura Innovation Centre.  The team investigated ways to reduce energy consumption, and are now working with their school’s finance manager to cut the school’s energy bills by a third.  The students were really excited to win, and are looking forward to a fantastic trip to Scandinavia.

Listen to The Waterline Student Sustainability Challenge.

Three students hold a trophy

Day two: adaptation and resilience

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

The highlight of the day was Innovation Thinking: Shaping a Greener Future.  This “hackathon” brought together teams of academics, students and businesspeople who came up with, designed and presented innovative solutions to climate challenges.  Each team then pitched their ideas to a team of experts – including InventX’s own Hannah Denford – who grilled them on their plan, and chose a winner.

This highly interactive and fun event uses disruptive thinking to find novel and innovative responses to climate change.

Groups of people collaborate and exchange ideas at the hackathon

The day also saw three other fringe events.

Arup’s Building Resilience in Society event started with a panel discussion to discuss and address the subject of resilience.  They brought together engineers, business innovators and policy makers in roundtable discussions to examine the barriers and challenges faced by the public, private and charity sectors in the Humber.

Listen to Building Resilience in Society.

Empty chairs on a stage with a screen saying 'Building Resilience in Society'

Next up was the University of Hull’s Flood Innovation Centre, and their Living With Water partners, with How to Adapt To Rising Flood Risk.  Local experts discussed how businesses can be supported to adapt and take advantage of future opportunities, to help improve the flood resilience of our region.

Listen to How to Adapt to Rising Flood Risk.

Closing the day was a different take on the net zero journey.  In Accelerating To Net Zero, the University of Hull showcased their partnership with Team GB, who have been working with the University’s Energy and Environment Institute to understand their carbon footprint and formulate a strategy to getting to a net zero future.  This fascinating discussion set out how a partnership between two very different organisations can help bring about improvements in sustainability, through setting a baseline benchmark from which to develop a strategy, securing organisational support and ensuring clear communication of the sustainability strategy.

Listen to Accelerating to Net Zero.

Day three: energy transition

A screen saying 'energy transition day'

This day started with a bang, with the launch of the Humber 2030 Vision.

This shared vision to decarbonise the UK’s largest industrial cluster, create high-skilled, green jobs, and bring in private investment to drive economic growth is a partnership between the CBI and firms in the Humber cluster.

Read the Humber 2030 Vision in full, or listen to interviews with key speakers at the Humber 2030 Vision launch.

Associated British Ports and Connected Places Catapult then explored how Investment Zones will help enhance and accelerate the delivery of freeport benefits, in their event Freeports and Investment Zones: Driving Humber Forward To Net Zero.

Listen to Freeports and Investment Zones.

Energy of the Future was the focus of the penultimate event, with industry leaders Phillips 66, Ørsted and VPI Immingham sharing how they plan to support decarbonisation, create jobs and boost the economic profile of the local area.

Listen to Energy of the Future.

The Waterline Summit closed with Offshore Wind – Leading Edge for a Greener Transition.  This event saw the Humber Offshore Wind Cluster taking people through some of the successes of the last year, including the addition of two new wind farms.  They also looked to the future, showing how the Humber will be leading the way in the transition to green energy.  Everyone then had a chance to network, reflecting on what they’d learned across the summit, and how to take those lessons back to their own businesses to help them continue on their own journey to net zero.

Listen to Offshore Wind – Leading Edge for a Greener Transition.

People gather to network