The annual Suffolk Coasts and Estuaries Conference celebrates its 10th anniversary this year.
Founded by the Suffolk Coast Forum, which comprises community groups, East Suffolk Council, the Environment Agency, Natural England and other local councils and organisations, it has proved increasingly popular. Delegate numbers have grown from 70 in 2012 to over 250 registered for this year’s conference at the Orbis Centre in Lowestoft.
In 2021, the conference extended its membership, and a new partnership was formed with the Norfolk Coast Forum and the Anglian (Eastern) Regional Flood and Coastal Committee.
Cllr Angie Fitch-Tillett Chair of the Norfolk Coast Forum said: “Joining forces with the Suffolk Coast Forum and the Anglian (Eastern) Regional Flood and Coastal Committee to host a joint conference was absolutely the right thing to do. It offers our communities, organisations, businesses, landowners and partners across the Norfolk and Suffolk coast and beyond the opportunity to hear from knowledgeable speakers and to learn from each other. Innovative thinking and actions are critical to the future of our coast.”
The conference aims to highlight innovation in the management of the coast and the coastal environment, showcasing local, national and international ideas and projects. Keynote speakers over the years have included Members of Parliament, senior leaders from the Environment Agency, the urban designer Wayne Hemingway and BBC Coast’s Nick Crane.
This year’s keynote speaker is Tony Juniper CBE, Chair of Natural England. Mr Jupiter is well known as a writer, environmental campaigner, sustainability advisor and leading British environmentalist. He was Executive Director of Friends of the Earth in England, Ireland and Wales and Vice Chair of Friends of the Earth International. He was appointed Chair of Natural England in 2019.
Cllr David Ritchie Chair of the Suffolk Coast Forum said: “We are delighted to welcome Tony Juniper as our keynote speaker for this our 10th annual conference. Today even more than when we held our first conference in 2012, we face increasing challenges: flooding, coastal erosion and the consequences of a changing climate. This conference has always provided the opportunity to learn from others about innovative measures being taken to combat these issues. Now more than ever this is so important.”
The conference has been a hybrid event since 2021 and this year’s event again offers in person and live-streaming attendance. In addition, schools are able to join the event through the live-streaming option or to select their own pre-recorded material available on a bespoke student stage. An added benefit for schools is a virtual career’s fair, offering students the opportunity to explore a variety of career possibilities in environmental, flood risk and coastal management.
Richard Powell OBE Chair of the Anglian (Eastern) Regional Flood and Coastal Committee (RFCC) said: “It is a fantastic event to be involved in. I have personally been attending the event almost from the beginning. The RFCC are particularly keen to involve students and give them the opportunity to view the possibilities of a career in this field. They are the next generation of environmentalists, geomorphologists, scientists, engineers, data specialists and other essential roles. We want to inspire them to be curious about what is available and to make sure that our coasts and our estuaries are in safe hands.”
The conference takes place on Thursday 13 October, and it is still possible to book a place on the live-streaming event: https://eastsuffolk.co/coast