In July 2015, Sustainability First began a major new three-year multi-partner project about long-termism and the public interest. We have set up a Network : New Energy and Water Public Interest Network (New-Pin), which brings together citizen, consumer and environment interests around a table with a small group of energy and water companies – plus regulatory and government actors. The aim is to create a unique ‘safe-space’ in which to tackle in a practical way some of the seemingly intractable differences in balancing short-term pressures and the need for longer-term thinking.

Through a series of carefully structured workshops, New-Pin provides an independent forum in which to explore systematically some of the important long-term public interest issues for energy and water (including how far some are common between the sectors). Workshops are designed to develop new thinking across topics such as long-run affordability, resilience & standards, innovation and regulation, the demand side, and long-term stewardship.

Where possible, New-Pin aims to build a degree of consensus around practical steps for the energy and water sectors to serve more confidently the ‘long-term public interest.’ Where this is not possible, New-Pin aims to develop understanding and deeper relationships between different actors. In doing so, it seeks to draw on the experiences of different companies, both within GB and internationally.

Through workshop meetings and a series of master classes and webinars, New-Pin aims to develop lasting capacity and thought-leadership among ‘public interest’ advocates. As a result, policy makers, regulators and companies benefit from being able to interface with a more informed and expert group of citizen, consumer and environmental stakeholders.

New-Pin aims to stimulate a new, more ‘inclusive’ perspective on governance of the water and energy companies. New-Pin will help network members to arrive at more robust and strategic decisions - by opening up regulatory, policy and company decision-making processes to ‘fresh air’ - and providing the opportunity for actors in different sectors and contexts to learn from and to challenge each other.