CaBA Conference 2019

Emily Cooper


Last week, The Rivers Trust ran the 2019 CaBA Conference!

It was an incredibly busy and rewarding day. We were treated to a fantastic range of talks, delivered by industry and charity professionals with a shared interest in the Catchment Based Approach (CaBA). CaBA is an inclusive, society-led initiative which understands the importance of healthy water to each area of society. It brings a collaborative approach to the forefront of catchment management, working in partnership with Government, Local Authorities, Water Companies, businesses, NGOs and local communities.

The truly collaborative nature of CaBA was evident in the crowd who gathered in anticipation of the conference. The WWF Living Planet centre was the perfect setting for the event; a serene oasis embedded within the heart of Woking. We’d like to offer our sincere thanks to WWF-UK for hosting us in this spectacular venue.

The event began with a fantastic speech from Debbie Tripley, Director of Environmental Policy and Advocacy at WWF-UK about the importance of collaboration and the need to act quickly. Arlin Rickard—CEO of the Rivers Trust and Chairman of the CaBA National Support Group—followed shortly afterwards, speaking about the evolution of CaBA. Arlin noted how the scheme had flourished from a handful of pilots 6 years ago into a national network which, last year alone, engaged with over 27,000 stakeholders and delivered 452 collaborative projects.

The conference opened with an inspiring video of a speech delivered by HRH Prince Charles at last year’s Catchment Summit. Shortly after, the first keynote speech began. Harvey Bradshaw, the Environment Agency’s Executive Director of Environment and Business, spoke about how collaborative work could help us to close the outcome gap when it comes to the 25 Year Environmental Plan. Rachel Fletcher, Chief Executive of Ofwat, came next, with a speech about how Ofwat will contribute to environmental goals, the benefits of Catchment based approaches and the need for innovation in business. Stephanie Hillborne, Chief Executive of the Wildlife Trusts rounded off the keynote speeches with a talk on the history and future of nature’s recovery.

After a short break to digest the morning’s information (as well as some delicious biscuits!), conference-goers reconvened for a session on delivering impact through collaboration with speakers from Thames water, Tesco, Nestle, United Utilities and the National Trust. Although their approaches were unique, they all agreed on the need for Increased collaboration at the catchment scale.

CaBA Conference Panel

An abundance of useful discussions took place over the networking lunch break. The final session of the day followed, focussing on enabling delivery of the Catchment Based Approach. This included talks on the role of the CaBA National Support group and the various working groups; the opportunities for greater alignment of national policies locally; and the globally unique nature of CaBA networking.

As the day drew to a close, Arlin Rickard concluded with some insightful remarks, speaking about how CaBA can play a critical role in helping to deliver the Governments 25 Year plan for the environment. Feeling well and truly inspired by the events of the day, the delegates headed home to mull over what they had learned.

Panel Discussion CaBA Conference 2019

Reflecting on the event, Arlin Rickard (Chairman of the CaBA National Support Group) said, “It really was heartening to hear keynote speakers and delegates from all three sectors, public, business and civil society, supporting and promoting integrated catchment management, delivered through the Catchment Based Approach (CaBA). Speakers also highlighted the importance of engaging local communities in planning, decision making and delivery across the 100 plus Catchment Partnerships.”

Arlin went on to say, “Delivering the Government’s 25 Year Environment Plan is a challenge which requires working in partnership tackling climate change, droughts and floods, biodiversity and building resilience in the system. We can only achieve this if we restore and build on the basic ecosystem services beginning with water, soil and air”.

Arlin CaBA Conference

We also spoke to Alex Adam, CaBA Water Stewardship Manager, following the conference. Alex said “The 2019 CaBA Conference was a huge success; it’s really encouraging to see this level of commitment to the Catchment Based Approach from a range of different sectors. The event was well attended by a range of organisations, including water companies, businesses and catchment partnerships. These relationships will be critical in moving towards a more collaborative, place-based approach that is so desperately needed for our environment".

We hope all of the attendees enjoyed their day at the 2019 CaBA conference; we certainly did! We hope to see you all (along with some new faces) in the future. Copies of the presentations delivered during the conference are available online here. Happy reading!

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