The north of England has some of the most beautiful natural landscapes in the world. From the soaring heights and serene waters of the Lake District, to the rugged, majestic splendour of the Yorkshire Dales, to the spectacular beauty of the Northumbrian coast, and everything in between, the North is rich in a diverse range of natural assets.

We have a collective responsibility to preserve and enhance nature for future generations to enjoy. And its in our best interests to do so: our natural environment supports and sustains the North’s economy, and the health and wellbeing of its people, in myriad ways. From the water we drink to the air we breathe, the places where we live and work to where we relax and exercise, the prosperity of the North is deeply entwined with the state of its natural environment. Despite this, the state of nature in many parts of the UK is poor. In many cases, conditions are particularly bad in the North.

The failure to properly look after, and invest in, our natural environment is a political failure. This must change. Reversing the underinvestment and under-valuation of nature will increase the resilience of the Northern economy. Not only that, but strategic investment in nature represents a substantial opportunity to develop a fair, green, zero-carbon Northern economy.

We need a pan-regional effort, led by the North’s leaders, to join up and coordinate local efforts to build environmental resilience, and to set out a strategic Plan for Nature, that will make an unanswerable case for new powers and funds from Westminster. Leading by the North, for the North can allow for leaders to embed social and environmental justice into the wider agenda to ‘level up’ the country.