Countdown is on to The Yorkshire Sustainability Festival

Largest sustainability gathering in the North comes to Leeds next weekSpeakers include Mary Portas, Kevin McCloud and John Richardson and The Futurenauts who will host a live podcast from the eventSustainable brand activation zone on Leeds City Square open to public showing sustainability in action

The countdown is on to the largest sustainability gathering in the North. Over 1000 people are expected to attend the fortnight-long Yorkshire Sustainability Festival. The highlight is a two day conference held at Cloth Hall Court in Leeds on 18 and 19 June. There’ll also be free fringe events held across the region. Headline conference speakers include Mary Portas, Kevin McCloud, comedian John Richardson and the Futurenauts who will join world-renowned sustainability experts and Yorkshire business leaders to discuss and help find solutions for our sustainable future cities and how Yorkshire can exploit the circular economy. Interactive workshops and inspiring breakout sessions will give delegates the opportunity to take home new creative and innovative approaches to their sustainability challenges by hearing how others are doing it right.

Mayor of West Yorkshire, Tracy Brabin will open day two of the conference where she will highlight the importance of Yorkshire businesses working together to hit ambitious net zero targets to drive the change for a greener future.

Tracy Brabin, Mayor of West Yorkshire, said:

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Mary Portas OBEMary Portas OBE
Mary Portas OBE

“I’m delighted to see the Yorkshire Sustainability Festival back for a second year, inspiring and supporting people to embrace sustainability, cut their energy bills, and help us build a greener, more secure region for future generations.

“Our communities are feeling the pinch of the rising cost of living, and have seen the devastating impact of flooding as a result of climate change.

"So I’m committed to helping more businesses go green and making our homes cheaper to heat, while ensuring we can work together to deliver a net zero West Yorkshire by 2038.”

City Square sustainable brand activation zone

Kate Hutchinson, Founder of Yorkshire Sustainability FestivalKate Hutchinson, Founder of Yorkshire Sustainability Festival
Kate Hutchinson, Founder of Yorkshire Sustainability Festival

Yorkshire Sustainability Festival’s brand activation zone is on City Square in Leeds as a showcase of sustainability in action. It will not only engage conference delegates but will also be open to the general public to showcase the growth of the green economy. People will be able to try delicious home grown organic veg, supplied by Incredible Edible and cooked by a host of chefs, network in Thor's Tipi, sponsored by Lloyds Bank and see the evolution of electric cars with Lotus and electric buses with First Bus. While eating a healthy and sustainable lunch from one of the vegan and vegetarian food trucks, provided by Caterly, attendees can watch bees grow their hives in real time with Band of Bees.

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Jon Richardson and The Futurenauts live podcastIn a special Yorkshire Sustainability Festival live recording of their hit podcast, comedian Jon Richardson and the Futurenauts, Ed Gillespie and Mark Stevenson, explore the ‘Future of Localism’, with special guest Eve Roodhouse, Chief Officer Culture and Economy at Leeds City Council.

Taking to the main stage at 4:30pm on day one of Yorkshire Sustainability Festival (18th June 2024), the trio will wrangle with a range of world-destroying and planet-saving ideas. Following the live recording, Jon Richardson and The Futurenauts will be joining the People Planet Pint meetup where you can network with likeminded individuals over a drink in the festival’s brand activation zone. Councillor James Lewis, leader of Leeds City Council said: “We're thrilled to welcome the Yorkshire Sustainability Festival to Leeds again. As a city we are leading the way with climate action, and taking our place amongst some of the top cities globally as we continue to move towards our ambition to become the first net zero city in the UK. The festival offers a fantastic opportunity to celebrate Yorkshire's sustainability pioneers and share and learn from their innovations. The festival was a huge success last year, and it's great to see it back, bigger and better this year.”

Professor Nick Plant, Deputy Vice-Chancellor: Research and Innovation at the University of Leeds, said:

"As Festival hosts, we are looking forward to welcoming guests to Leeds to learn, collaborate and identify solutions to some of the most important issues facing our region and our planet. “Impactful research and innovation is key as we explore the future role of cities and the challenges of living sustainably. Together, we can make cities healthier and more resilient.”

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Kate Hutchinson, Founder of Yorkshire Sustainability Community said:

“We believe that there’s a lot of power in our regional economy when it comes to tackling the climate crisis, to grow the green economy and transform the way we do business in the 21st century. With increasing support from local government and environmental charities and organisations, sustainable businesses in Yorkshire have the potential to thrive.

“However there's still confusion about the best routes to take and the rhetoric of sustainability being a cost not an opportunity which is absolutely not the case! We need to lean in to transform our post-industrial towns and attract green jobs to the region. It will boost our regional economy through the creation of more high-skilled jobs and greater inward investment and bring local solutions to global challenges.

“Local businesses stand to prosper, creating local, green jobs if they can access the new markets that net zero presents as well as making positive, greener changes that benefit all our communities across the region. We can all work together to build a greener, net zero economy, powered by local suppliers and equipping the entrepreneurs of Yorkshire with the skills they need, but this can only be achieved if we can build confidence and knowledge in the sector with a robust network of suppliers and innovators backed up with environmental know-how and funding. “That’s why I created the Yorkshire Sustainability Festival: to strengthen, inspire and expand our sustainable business community across the region. I’m beyond excited about the calibre of speakers we’ve got lined up together with the interactive workshops and networking opportunities and I would encourage anyone with a passion for the environment to attend. “The outdoor activation zone will be great for engaging with the general public and we’re thrilled to be the first private sector organisation to use this fantastic facility.”

Headline partners include Leeds City Council, University of Leeds, West Yorkshire Combined Authority and Yorkshire and Humber Climate Commission.