Greater Manchester Green City Region. Creating a greener, greater city region differently

Young People 2038

Greater Manchester Green Summit 2019 - Five years in seven hours

Monday 25 March, saw The Lowry’s doors open at 8.30am to welcome over 1700 people into a venue which would host all day proceedings in the main auditorium, an Innovation Zone, Public Sector Zone and Green Citizen Room, alongside a vibrant Marketplace (inside and outside) with over 60 exhibitors.

The day got underway in the Lyric Auditorium with all attendees present, with the main stage opening with a rousing and emotive address by Emma Greenwood, GM (Climate Strike 4 Youth) spokesperson and Member of Bury Youth Parliament, and her fellow climate change strikers.  Joining them on stage was the Mayor of Greater Manchester, but it was the young people who set the impetus for the day, with engaging statements and words, which for many in the audience, proved to be the highlight of the event.

We were also honoured to receive a video address from His Royal Highness, The Prince of Wales, who recognised the input of all stakeholders and individuals in Greater Manchester to make a difference and continue the historical legacy we have gained with innovation and technology.

A hard act to follow but Lemn Sissay proved to be the speaker who could.  With a powerful address which captured the global as well as local issues and how we could all be try to eliminate the ‘carbon gap’, Lemn nailed his address with a poem: Darwin originals: what if? 

The main objective of this year’s summit was the launch and delivery of The Five Year Environment Plan for Greater Manchester . GM Green City Lead, Alex Ganotis presented the science-based plan, to ensure clarity and understanding of the challenging actions required over the next five years to ensure the region is on the right path to achieve its carbon-neutral targets.    

Time for a break and to discover the event zones and marketplace which were already open and getting very busy.   (Also worth mentioning was the tasty vegan pasty lunch, supplied by HMPasties!)

Located in the Compass Room, The Innovation Zone area was co-ordinated by The Growth Company, the North West Business Leadership Team, Greater Manchester Combined Authority and Creative Concern, with the opening panel chaired by Andy Burnham.  The objective was to engage business, academics, policy makers and other delegates in a creative dialogue to discuss innovation programmes for Greater Manchester to nurture in the immediate future. Professor Michael Shaver from the University of Manchester’s Henry Royce Institute delivered a keynote talk on the topic of plastic waste and material sustainability.  The room was ‘packed to the rafters’ for the majority of the day, with a high level of content and input from attendees.  

Hosted by the Environment Agency, the Public Sector Room tackled the Five Year Plan’s distinct themes through discussion and workshop sessions, with direct ‘asks’ of how the Public Sector can disseminate,  engage and action the plan within their sectors.   Targeting people working across all roles within all public sector organisations, from local authorities and schools to health sector practitioners.

The focus of the room was to inspire and motivate people in their role, to come up with clear actions that they and their organisations could implement to help make a difference and change current business as usual practices to being more environmentally conscious.   A more detailed review of the Public Sector room and findings from discussion is available here. Speak out session MEEN

With a young audience eager to learn more on how to be a ‘Greener Citizen’, the Hexagon Room in the Circle Bar area was buzzing with school groups and individuals keen to be part of the five workshops.   From being a Citizen Forester, delivered by City of Trees; Green Careers for young People, delivered by Bright Green Futures; a Youth Speak Out session, delivered by Manchester Environmental Education Network; Low Carbon Community Led Housing and Buildings, delivered by URBED  and Sustainable Community Food, delivered by Kindling Trust.    An appearance from the Mayor, was greeted with much enthusiasm and found that he was immediately put on the spot and interrogated by the young people participating in the ‘Speak Out’ session - proving GM has many future climate change influencers in the making!    

This year’s Marketplace hosted 53 exhibitors around the venue all offering interactive displays showcasing dynamic projects and products, which support a sustainable future.  (Full list of exhibitors is available within the programme at

Whilst all the activity was taking place inside the venue, there was an interactive outdoor exhibition which showcased many different electric vehicles, from Tesla, Toyota, Kast Energy, a test-drive area hosted by Octopus Electric Vehicles, the Moors for the Future ‘Bogtastic Van’ and one of GM’s first electric buses.   The Mancunian Birder, James Walsh, kindly hosted a pre-event guided Eco Walk to see bird wildlife around the Quays.   

If you just wanted to stay in the Lyric auditorium, a full programme of discussion and keynote speakers, including Emma Howard Boyd, Chair of the Environment Agency and Chris Boardman, GM Cycling and Walking Commissioner, ensured there was always something interesting and relevant going on through-out the day.   Huge thanks go to the 27 Lyric Stage speakers who delivered inspiring and concise presentations allowing the ambitious programme to keep to time. 

The day was wrapped up with something slightly different, the Mayor hosted a short, light-hearted interview session with two very different advocates and influencers of sustainable living, Mark ‘Bez’ Berry (shaking his maracas at the frackers) and actor, Peter Gunn from one the most sustainably produced programmes on TV, Coronation Street.  

GM CommitmentsFinally, there was a commitment session with some of Greater Manchester’s major players and stakeholders committing to support the Five Year Environment Plan for GM.   And, no decent event is complete without a protest: the Green Summit had a peaceful (and eloquent) stage invasion by the now infamous environmental movement ‘Extinction Rebellion’ – rounding up what felt like an energetic but exhausting five years in seven hours.

If you attended this year’s Green Summit, we’d love to hear your take on the event too.  If you were unable to get a ticket, all the programming, reports and Lyric Stage proceedings are available to view at: 


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