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Circular economy proposals to be announced in May – will they be up to the job?

March 11th, 2022 by

Scottish Environment LINK welcomes the news that the Scottish Government will consult on a Circular Economy bill in May and that a ban on the destruction of unsold goods will be one of the proposals brought forward.

However, banning the destruction of unsold goods is only one part of the jigsaw puzzle if Scotland is to really address the environmental impact of the way we make, use and waste products.

Research by the International Resource Panel shows that global consumption of natural resources has tripled since the 1970s and is set to further double by 2060, and that 90% of biodiversity loss is caused by resource extraction and processing. Material flow accounts for Scotland, published in 2021, show our material footprint to be more than double sustainable levels and carbon footprint data shows that 82% of Scotland’s carbon footprint is derived from emissions embedded in goods we consume.

Our climate and nature emergencies demand systemic change across our economy to really address the impact of the way we make and use products. Such systemic change must be driven by targets to focus minds – in all areas of the economy – on reducing our use of raw materials. In the same way that our climate change targets are driving policy to decarbonise energy and heat production, a material footprint target could drive policy to ‘circularise’ our economy. Such a target should be central to the circular economy bill.

As well as banning the destruction of unsold goods, we need to make sure products stay in use for as long as possible. Legislation should introduce a repairability index, telling consumers how easy a product is to repair, and retailers should be required to take back products at the end of their life, incentivising design that keeps value in components and materials. Products that are particularly problematic in the environment, for example plastic wet-wipes, should be banned.

The bill should include an obligation to publish a plan, updated every five years, which would map out how to reduce our material footprint, how to address problematic materials and chemicals, and the requirements that will be placed on different sectors.

Scottish Environment LINK looks forward to seeing the proposals in May and hopes that they are up to the job.

For more information on legislation and policies needed to make our economy more circular, please see our briefing, ‘A Circular Scotland’.

Contact: Phoebe Cochrane, phoebe@scotlink.org

Support for Scottish Government’s Sustainable and Regenerative Farming in Scotland vision statement

March 3rd, 2022 by

On 2 March 2022, the Scottish government published its vision for sustainable and regenerative farming. This vision to be a global leader is a bold one and one that we support. Its delivery will hinge on commitment to transformational change in the way we farm and use land in Scotland and in how we support farmers and crofters to do that.

The Sustainable and regenerative farming – next steps: statement is available here.

“The challenges facing biodiversity are as important as the challenge of climate change, and I want Scotland to be leading the way in our response”.

Nicola Sturgeon MSP, July 2019

We all face climate and nature emergencies, which Scotland is committed to tackling. Farmers and crofters are part of the solution to these challenges. They are also an integral part of local rural communities, and ensuring rural businesses thrive and steward and regenerate Scotland’s environment for future generations is vital.

Framing this vision around climate mitigation and adaptation, as well as nature restoration, helps focus on ensuring that the approach Scotland adopts on land use and land management will aim to deliver progress towards meeting both our 2024 climate targets and the 2030 nature restoration targets we expect to see come out of COP15. A future support framework has to be designed so that it supports farmers to reduce emissions and restore nature at the same time as producing high quality food.

For success to be achieved in reforming farming policy, support must be aligned with other key policy mechanisms: we welcome the reference to the Good Food Nation bill. Other policy alignments that would contribute to success include the National Planning Framework 4 and its delivery of connectivity for nature through nature networks, the biodiversity strategy, the Natural Environment Bill for example.

The next two years provide a window and opportunity to reshape agricultural policy. In order to seize that opportunity, this first step must be followed by a coherent plan for a support framework that puts the nature crisis and tackling climate changes as a top priority.

We must now move funding for climate and nature from the margin to the mainstream, with the majority of farm support geared to reducing emissions, locking up carbon and restoring biodiversity – not just on marginal land but on all our land and in all our waters.

The Scottish government’s vision of a transformation to sustainable and regenerative farming is ambitious and necessary. If we are to meet the global target for climate and nature, significant investment is required. We support a move towards enhanced conditionality of at least half of all funding for farming and crofting by 2025, but this is a minimum. The scale of the challenge is such that delivering outcomes to restore nature, benefit our natural capital and promote the natural economy will require more than this.

Besides funding support to enable all farmers to restore nature and reduce emissions, we need to see more investment in skilled advice services, so all farmers have access to the level of expert advice they need to identify actions to deliver those targets. This also enables them to produce high quality food and run sustainable businesses that underpin thriving local rural communities.

We are ready and willing to contribute to this work and we look forward to continuing to work with the Scottish Government and Scottish Parliament as it moves forward with its plans for agriculture, aiming to transform how we fund and support farming with nature and climate at its heart.

This statement represents the collective view of LINK’s Food and Farming Group. Members may also respond individually in order to raise more detailed issues that are important to their particular organisation.

Scotland’s National Strategy for Economic Transformation towards a wellbeing economy is a good start

March 1st, 2022 by

Scottish Environment LINK welcomes the recognition of environmental objectives in Scotland’s National Strategy for Economic Transformation and looks forward to  more robust plans to deliver towards our nature positive, net zero targets as part of a Just Transition.

Today marks the publication of the long awaited new strategy for economic transformation, Delivering Economic Prosperity. On Friday we highlighted our hopes and expectations for the new strategy here.

Scottish Environment LINK’s Economics Group welcomes the Strategy’s  recognition that our economy is embedded in nature. We welcome the frequent references to the importance of Scotland’s natural environment, the need to engage meaningfully with communities, and the need to develop a nature-positive economy that invests in nature-based solutions. Nature and our climate are in crisis and a more sustainable economic path is vital to tackling these emergencies.  

However, to achieve this,  the Strategy must  follow through on how this will be delivered. Moving our focus from measuring GDP to other parameters much more in line with a prosperous Scotland is very welcome, although the main approaches championed in the strategy are about increasing productivity and growth.  Globally, the  incompatibility of continued growth in rich countries while remaining within environmental limits is being recognised.  The development of a circular economy, with a focus on material productivity, rather than labour productivity is crucial, to meet nature and climate goals.

With the Transform Our Economy alliance, we prepared Ten Points to judge the new strategy, endorsed by 40 academics. Applying these, this strategy starts well with its overall vision. Theapplication of many of the other tests indicates that more work is needed on, for example, having clear tests of decarbonisation and nature impacts for all investment programmes. LINK hopes that today’s launch is the start of a debate about these matters, with the Scottish Government  leading an inclusive national conversation, making the most of the environmental and social policy expertise in Scotland.

The strong high level ambition of the strategy must be carried through into its delivery and we will closely monitor the developments to ensure this happens. A representative from Scotland’s environment movement within the Scottish Government’s new Economic Leadership Group would be a key step towards maintaining the positive momentum.  

As a part of  a robust national debate this new National Strategy for Economic Transformation can help to shift the focus away from economic growth towards a well being economy with nature and climate recovery at its heart. We look forward to seeing more detail on how this vision will be achieved and we look forward to the national conversation required to make this strategy succeed.

Contact details

Finlay Wilson, Communications Officer, Scottish Environment LINK

Tel contact: 07934033548 |   Email finlay@scotlink.org

Bruce Wilson, Deputy convenor LINK Economics Group 

Email bwilson@scottishwildlifetrust.org.uk

 

Editors’ Notes

(1)  The Scottish Government’s new national strategy for economic transformation, Delivering Prosperity, can be found here

(2)  European Environment Agency paper on limits of growth within environmental limits here

(3)  For more information on why we need a circular economy see here

(2) The statement with Ten Key Points for a Transformative Economic Strategy can be read here

(3) Concerns raised by the Transform Our Economy alliance about engagement in the process of preparing the strategy can be read in this blog

(4)  Scottish Environment LINK is the forum for Scotland’s voluntary environment community, with over 35 member bodies representing a broad spectrum of environmental interests with the common goal of contributing to a more environmentally sustainable society www.scotlink.org

 

 

Experts back call to transform Scotland’s economy, protect the planet and provide wellbeing for all

February 25th, 2022 by

Calls for radical, transformative changes to Scotland’s economy in order to ensure wellbeing for all within our environmental limits have been backed by almost 40 leading economists and environment academics.

In advance of the publication by the Scottish Government of its new economic strategy on Tuesday 1 March, these experts have endorsed Ten Points for a Transformative Economic Strategy produced by the ‘Transform Our Economy’ alliance. 

These ideas outline a new purpose at the heart of our economy: providing wellbeing for all within environmental limits. They will require the government to set the trajectory for the economy and present a credible plan for delivery using all the powers at their disposal.

The alliance, comprising Scottish Environment LINK’s Economics Group, Friends of the Earth Scotland and Wellbeing Economy Alliance Scotland, is also calling for much more extensive public debate about the direction of our economy and believes that participation from workers, affected communities and those who are in greatest need of economic transformation is badly needed to achieve the transformation required.

Matthew Crighton, Sustainable Economy Adviser at Friends of the Earth Scotland said, 

“In the midst of climate and nature emergencies, with too many people trapped in poverty and businesses still reeling from the impact of the pandemic, there is no question that economic transformation is needed.

“In the face of these challenges, the Scottish Government must plot a new direction in building a truly sustainable and just economy that can meet people’s needs.

“Recent history has shown us there is a persistent gap between high-level aspirations and the actual performance of the government in effectively intervening in the economy in Scotland. The fear is that the new economic strategy won’t redesign the economy, but will instead continue to deliver inequality and environmental destruction.

“We look forward to a transformative economic agenda that can provide sufficient investment to deliver a just transition to zero carbon, integrate the protection of nature into economic decision making and ensure social equity and participation by currently marginalised groups.”

Professor Tim Jackson, Professor of Sustainable Development, University of Surrey and acclaimed author of Prosperity Without Growth said:

With the forthcoming 10-year Strategy for Economic Transformation the Scottish Government has a unique opportunity to make Scotland a global example of an economy that is fit to address the challenges of the 21st century, delivering wellbeing for all within environmental limits.

To do that, the Strategy needs to put at its heart care for people and planet, it needs to build on meaningful participation of those at the sharp end of our economy, and it needs to put in place measures which will give priority to ensuring people’s wellbeing rather than the pursuit of GDP growth for its own sake.”

The ten points proposed by the ‘Transform our Economy’ group offer a robust framework for building such a strategy. The Scottish Government would be well advised to take note.”

Professor Jan Webb, Professor of Sociology of Organisations, University of Edinburgh, and one of the 38 signatories, said:

“Orthodox economic strategy aims to maximise GDP, and then to make some adjustments for fairness and environmental harms. A transformative strategy, fit for addressing climate emergency and major inequalities, has to direct all economic action to achieving a fair, and sustainable, society. This means all investment prioritises decent work, zero waste, biodiversity and climate protection. I hope the Scottish Government will respond promptly and constructively to the Transform Our Economy alliance.”

The headings of the Ten Key Points are:

  1. The goal: wellbeing for all within environmental limits
  2. Setting specific economic objectives to care for people and the planet
  3. Using all the tools available to government to meet those objectives
  4. Policies must show how the objectives can be achieved
  5. Combat economic pressures which are helping cause the problems
  6. Public priorities must lead the direction of development of the economy
  7. Clear tests for all investment programmes
  8. Measure performance through metrics which matter
  9. An economic strategy for all sectors – economic transformation as a national mission
  10. An inclusive and participatory process

 

They have been endorsed by the following 38 leading academics:

Mike Danson,  Professor Emeritus of Enterprise Policy, Heriot-Watt University

James Curran,  Visiting Professor, Centre for Sustainable Development, University of Strathclyde

Victoria Chick,  Emeritus Professor of Economics, University College London

Dan O’Neill,  Associate Professor in Ecological Economics, University of Leeds

Julia Steinberger, Professor of Societal Challenges of Climate Change, University of Lausanne

Malcolm Sawyer, Emeritus Professor, Leeds University Business School

Molly Scott-Cato,  Professor of Green Economics, Roehampton University

Prof Christine Cooper,   Professor of Accounting, Edinburgh University

Laurie Macfarlane, Head of Patient Finance, Institute for Innovation and Public Purpose, UCL

Camilla Toulmin,  Professor in Practice at the Lancaster Environment Centre, Lancaster University

Beth Stratford,  Fellow New Economics Foundation and the Wellbeing Economy Alliance

Gregor Gall,  Affiliate Research Associate at the University of Glasgow

Grace Blakeley, Author and journalist

Nancy Folbre, Professor Emerita of Economics, University of Massachusetts

Eurig Scandrett,  Senior Lecturer in Sociology, Queen Margaret University

Andrew Mearman,  Associate Professor of Economics, Leeds University

John Barry, Professor, Queen’s University Belfast

Gary Dymski,  Professor of Applied Economics, Leeds University

Yannis Dafermos, Senior Lecturer in Economics, SOAS

Mark Huxham, Professor, School of Applied Sciences, Napier University

Elizabeth Bomberg, Professor of Environmental Politics, University of Edinburgh

Dennis Mollison, Emeritus Professor of Applied Probability, Heriot-Watt 

University

Karen Bell, Senior Lecturer in Urban Sustainable Development, Glasgow University

Elena Hofferberth,  PhD student, Leeds University Business School

Tim Hayward,  Professor of Environmental Political Theory, University of Edinburgh

Miriam Brett,  Director of Research and Advocacy, Common Wealth

Andy Watterson,  Professor, Public Health Researcher, Stirling University

Danny Wight,  Professor, Institute of health and Wellbeing, University of Glasgow

Claire Duncanson, Senior Lecturer in International Relations, University of Edinburgh

Donald McKenzie,  Professor, School of Social and Political Sciences, University of Edinburgh

Josh Ryan-Collins,  Senior Research Fellow in Economics and Finance

Maria Nikolaidi,  Associate Professor in Economics, Greenwich University

 

Contact details

Contact:
Matthew Crighton,
mcrighton@foe.scot
07851 348426 

 

Editors’ Notes

(1)  The Scottish Government’s announcement of its National Strategy for Economic Transformation can be found here

(2) The statement with Ten Key Points for a Transformative Economic Strategy can be read here

(3) Concerns raised by the Transform Our Economy alliance about engagement in the process of preparing the strategy can be read in this blog

(4)  Scottish Environment LINK is the forum for Scotland’s voluntary environment community, with over 35 member bodies representing a broad spectrum of environmental interests with the common goal of contributing to a more environmentally sustainable society www.scotlink.org

(5) The Wellbeing Economy Alliance (WEAll) Scotland is a collaboration of organisations, movements and individuals working to transform the economic system into one that delivers social justice on a healthy planet. Our Allies network includes businesses, national NGOs and grassroots movement.  https://wellbeingeconomy.org/scotland

(6) Friends of the Earth Scotland is: Scotland’s leading environmental campaigning organisation; an independent Scottish charity with a network of thousands of supporters and active local groups across Scotland; part of the largest grassroots environmental network in the world, uniting over 2 million supporters, 73 national member groups, and 5,000 local activist groups  foe.scot

 

National Planning Framework needs ‘teeth’ to deliver for nature, climate and communities warn charities

November 10th, 2021 by

Today’s publication of the 10-year National Planning Framework 4 (NPF4) is a missed opportunity to futureproof our natural environment in the face of the climate and nature crisis, says Scottish Environment LINK. While the focus of the draft NPF4 on meeting Scotland’s net zero by 2045 target is hugely welcome, its ambition does not go far enough to set out how its policies will deliver the restoration of Scotland’s nature over the next decade. 

The NPF4 is a great opportunity for the Scottish Government to show leadership by working with communities of interest and place to restore nature and limit the damage from climate change. LINK members have called for the NPF4 to include policies that support a national Nature Network, connecting fragmented habitats across Scotland to allow wildlife to thrive, as well as policies to ban the sale of peat compost and ensure protections for areas of wild land and greenbelts are strengthened.[1] However, the Framework set out today does not make clear how it will deliver the transformative change required at this critical juncture.  

Clare Symonds, Convener of LINK’s Planning Group, responded:  

“At a time of nature and climate emergency, today’s draft National Planning Framework lacks crucial detail on how nature-positive and low emissions developments will be supported by Scotland’s planning system. Scotland’s environmental charities have called for the NPF4 to deliver a transformation in how we develop our towns, cities and rural areas to adapt to the impacts of climate change and contribute to nature’s restoration in the years ahead. Considering the scale of the climate and biodiversity emergencies we face, this is a disappointingly unambitious document.”  

Charles Nathan, Vice-Convener of the Planning Group, noted,  

“We’ve consistently highlighted that action on climate must also include action on nature and so welcome the fact that Scottish Government has fully recognised in this draft both the scale of the nature crisis and most importantly that planning can play a huge part in bringing nature back into our lives.  However, we have a task ahead of us now to strengthen the ‘teeth’ of the document so we don’t fall back into a ‘business as usual’ approach that is failing to protect the natural world that we are all dependent upon. We are hopeful that this can be avoided by changing the ‘shoulds’ to ‘musts’ and having an NPF4 that emboldens decision-makers to make net-zero and nature positive decisions.’ 

ENDS

Notes: 

[1] See LINK’s priorities for NPF4: https://www.scotlink.org/wp-content/uploads/2021/07/NPF4_TopPriorities_V3.pdf  

 

Restoration Fund is a positive step for Scotland’s nature

November 6th, 2021 by

Scottish Environment LINK welcomes today’s announcement of increased government funding to restore and protect nature.

The Nature Restoration Fund will commit to at least £13.5 million annually to restore and protect Scotland’s nature – a vital step to fund the work needed to help restore Scotland’s habitats and species. From restoring Scotland’s wetlands, marine habitats and species and iconic habitats on land, including native woodlands and mountain areas, this commitment to a 5-year Nature Restoration Fund will help drive momentum towards halting the loss and restoring Scotland’s nature by 2030. This commitment to multi-annual public funding provides the leadership for other sectors to step up and help conserve Scotland’s national treasure: its nature.

Scottish Environment LINK Chief Officer, Deborah Long, said:

“Scotland is renowned for our nature on land and at sea. But the health of our species and habitats is declining. The Nature Restoration Fund is a hugely welcome and important weapon in our fight against nature loss and climate change. With global nature targets being agreed at the Biodiversity COP15 in Spring 2022, which will guide Scotland’s new Biodiversity Strategy, this fund provides the basis for significant progress towards the level of transformative action for Scotland’s species and habitats that is needed. By investing in multi-year, multi scale projects, focussed on the species and habitats that need most help, the future for Scotland’s nature, young people and communities across Scotland looks a lot more promising.”

Alistair Whyte, Director of Plantlife Scotland and convener of LINK’s Wildlife Group, said:

“Investing in Scotland’s wildlife is a win for species, habitats, and local communities. The Nature Restoration Fund announcement is a first step in the fight against biodiversity loss, helping to give Scotland’s wildlife a fighting chance for the future.  Alongside the Nature Restoration Fund, we are eager to hear details on additional funding for significant ecosystem restoration in Scotland’s rainforest, as announced by the Scottish Government earlier this week. We then look forward to the construction of a wider programme of ecosystem restoration across the country, to help Scotland move up from its current place in the world’s lowest ranks of biodiversity intactness.”

 

Programme for Government: commitments must deliver a transformation for nature

September 7th, 2021 by

Scottish Environment LINK welcomes today’s Programme for Government outlined by the First Minister (7 September). As we embark on the UN Decade for Ecosystem Restoration, the need to tackle the global climate and nature emergency is urgent. Two major UN reports (Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change IPCC and Intergovernmental Panel on Biodiversity and Ecosystem Services IPBES) have very clearly stated the need for immediate and effective action to limit global temperature rises to 1.5oC and to restore biodiversity. With the State of Nature report showing one in nine species in danger of extinction in the country and our biodiversity intactness index 28th from the bottom globally, Scotland clearly needs to act now.

This Parliamentary session is crucial. With only nine years of the decade that IPCC and IPBES say is left for us to act, this Programme for Government in 2021 is vital and must be transformational. That means we need to see immediate, determined and demonstrable action. The commitment to protect our land and marine environments for generations to come, reversing ecological decline and delivering nature-based solutions to climate change is central to this transformation.

We warmly welcome the commitment to nature targets: targets help guide action and enable everyone to play their part in nature restoration. The proposed Biodiversity Strategy and Natural Environment Bill must provide a direction of travel, led by government, to bring immediate progress towards those targets from 2021. In addition, the commitment to designate 10% of our seas as highly protected is very welcome and alongside commitment for nature networks on land and at sea, this could be transformational.

Today’s commitments, welcome as they are, must be fully resourced and we look forward to the Government’s budget for the detail on that. The scale and urgency of today’s situation cannot be underestimated. It needs adequate multi annual funding at scale: this is too big a task for government alone but by committing to multi-year funding at an adequate level, government shows the necessary leadership and enables others to come alongside. We welcome the commitment to £500 million for nature restoration. This is roughly half of what we estimate will be required from Government over the course of this Parliament to meet the scale of the challenge ahead.  Where this is matched by £1 billion from philanthropic sources and another from green financing, and where agricultural support delivers for nature and climate, while continuing to produce food, Scotland has a chance to begin to see the level of action needed.

For this transformation to take place at all, legislation is also required. The commitment to the Good Food Nation Bill this year is welcome. While it offers the opportunity for Scotland to become a leader on nature and climate friendly food production, increasing access to all to high quality, low food miles and healthy food, it must deliver demonstrable progress. With other key pieces of legislation, including for example Natural Environment, Circular Economy, deer and grouse moor management, planned for later in the Parliamentary term, we will be calling for speedier non legislative action. The 2022 grouse and muirburn season, for example, should not open without licencing in place if we are serious about halting the loss of biodiversity in our uplands.

A Circular Economy bill is key to transforming the way we run our businesses and generating our livelihoods way into the future and needs to bring early determined action with demonstrable progress to targets being met. Given the direction of travel could be set immediately, we look forward to updates on a bottle deposit scheme and a ban on non-essential single use plastics, which can already be implemented without new legislation.

We are assessing this Programme for Government against our 5 tests for a green recovery and will report the results on that shortly. The announced Covid Recovery Bill offers the opportunity for Government to apply its own tests to assess how green Scotland’s recovery is and we look forward to seeing the Scottish Government take up this opportunity.

END.

 

Notes:

Programme for Government 2021-22 (2021)

Biodiversity and climate change workshop report (2021): IPBS and  IPCC

State of Nature Scotland (2019):

RSPB Biodiversity Intactness Index summary (2021)

£1 billion for nature conservation route map (2020) Scottish Wildlife Trust and Scottish Environment Protection Agency.

 

 

Environment Prioritised in SNP-Green Cooperation Agreement

August 20th, 2021 by

Scottish Environment LINK welcomes indication that the draft SNP-Green Cooperation Agreement, announced today (20 August), includes proposals to progress a number of key environmental policies. This could signal a step forward in delivering on Scotland’s ambition to tackle the nature and climate crises hand in hand. 

 

In particular, positive progress has been made to introduce legally binding nature recovery targets to halt the decline in Scotland’s biodiversity by 2030 and restore Scotland’s nature, a central ask of LINK’s Fight for Scotland’s Nature campaign.

 

The draft Agreement also includes commitments to embed nature networks in national planning policy to enable key habitats and wildlife to flourish, support for regenerative agriculture and greater protections for Scotland’s marine habitats. Measures to reduce packaging waste in a Circular Economy Bill will also be important to delivering positive outcomes for Scotland’s nature and climate. The Agreement includes a guarantee of multi-year funding through the newly established Nature Restoration Fund.

 

Deborah Long, Chief Officer of Scottish Environment LINK said:

“The actions we take in the next five years will be vital for restoring Scotland’s nature and delivering a green recovery from the Covid-19 pandemic. The draft agreement published today includes several environmental policy commitments that should deliver progress and we look forward to working with government to roll out delivery in the event the cooperation agreement is confirmed.

“We welcome the inclusion of targets to restore Scotland’s nature in the draft Agreement though, with 1 in 9 species in Scotland at risk of national extinction, it is concerning this legislation will be in the latter half of the parliamentary session. Scotland must also take a holistic approach to tackling nature’s decline, which is why it is positive to see commitments on delivering nature networks, sustainable agriculture and highly protected marine areas.

“Of course, these issues are important to parties across the Scottish Parliament, and we look forward to working with government and all opposition parties to take forward action to ensure Scotland’s nature flourishes.”  

LINK launches new Nature Champion initiative

June 3rd, 2021 by

We are delighted to announce that Scottish Environment LINK has relaunched Species Champions as the Nature Champions initiative. The Nature Champions initiative has been developed by LINK to encourage Members of the Scottish Parliament (MSPs) to champion endangered or iconic species and priority habitats, raising awareness and promoting action to restore and safeguard Scotland’s environment. With 1 in 9 species at risk of national extinction, political support for restoring and protecting our natural environment has never been more critical.

Nature Champions has been developed in order to refresh the award-winning project, Species Champions. Since its launch in 2013, the Species Champion initiative has gone from strength to strength: at the start of the parliamentary session in 2016, 56 MSPs were signed up to the scheme; at the end of the session, there were 105 MSP champions, representing 80% of the Chamber. It has inspired similar programmes in WalesNorthern Ireland and England as well as Scottish local authorities.

MSPs have the opportunity to champion priority habitats such as Caledonian pinewoods to threatened species such as the bog sun-jumper spider. Champions have the opportunity to meet and learn about their species and habitats on site visits, participate in conservation work and stand up for nature in parliament. The Nature Champions initiative puts the spotlight on our amazing species and habitats by encouraging MSPs to work together with environmental organisations and other MSPs, for the benefit of Scotland’s natural environment.

Emma Harper MSP, Nature Champion for natterjack toad, said;

I look forward to continue to promote the natterjack Toad as a Nature Champion and in May I highlighted this special, rare species on Endangered Species Day by raising a motion in parliament to garner political support for its protection.

I am proud to represent the South Scotland region which is home to the natterjack Toad – Dumfries & Galloway – the only place in Scotland where you will find this species. During the last parliamentary session, I took an active role in promoting the region’s biodiversity and unique environment, supporting the Galloway & Southern Ayrshire Biosphere and hosting the Nature of Scotland Awards at the Scottish Parliament as well as inviting and hosting many ministers to visit the region.

The population in the Solway Firth has seen an impressive increase in numbers of natterjack Toads thanks to the  fantastic habitat management put in place at RSPB Mersehead.

2021 is the year of important global moments for the environment. The UN will decide on a new 10-year framework for biodiversity under the UN Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD) at its 15th Conference of Parties (COP15) in the autumn. However, a new international deal for nature must be matched by domestic ambition to bend the curve of biodiversity loss and deliver commitments made under the CBD. If Scotland is to maintain its international reputation for nature and landscape, we need to step up action to protect and maintain our rich variety of habitats and the iconic and endangered species that depend upon them. This initiative provides a clear and accessible way for MSPs to do their bit for Scotland’s nature and future generations.

The need to have informed, passionate and supportive MSPs in parliament ensuring our wildlife and environment has a voice has never been more critical. An increasingly knowledgeable, interested, and pro-environment group of MSPs will have a demonstrable impact on issues right across the environmental agenda.

 

Are you an MSP who wants to get involved and become a Nature Champion? Contact LINK’s Nature Advocacy Officer at juliet@scotlink.org for more details.

 

Find out more here.

Nature and climate emergency must be focus of FM’s new cabinet team

May 19th, 2021 by

Scottish Environment LINK welcomes the appointment of the First Minister’s new cabinet today. At the start of the UN Decade on Ecosystem Restoration, the cabinet must focus on addressing the nature and climate emergency and meeting international targets. Government action over the next five years will be essential if Scotland is to achieve its ambitious 2030 climate target and to put in place robust measures to reverse declines in nature.

 

With crucial international climate talks taking place at COP26 in Glasgow and biodiversity talks at COP15 in China, at a time when 1 in 9 species is at risk of extinction in Scotland, the new Scottish Government must place tackling the nature and climate emergency top of its priorities for government.This includes embedding action to reverse declines in nature and reduce carbon emissions across all ministerial portfolios. It must also include rebalancing our unsustainable consumption of natural resources, which jeopardises our food security and weakens the basis of our economy. LINK members welcome the creation of the posts of Cabinet Secretary for Net Zero, Energy and Climate and Cabinet Secretary for Rural Affairs and Islands. These two posts will need to work closely together to drive coordination across government to meet climate and nature targets. LINK also believes that the appointment of a Minister for Nature will be needed to help support these two critical portfolios.  

 

The new Cabinet Secretaries Michael Matheson and Mairi Gougeon will be crucial to efforts to deliver nature restoration to meet expected international biodiversity targets, with both the EU Commission and UK Government expected to set their own nature recovery targets later this year. Mr Matheson and Ms Gougeon will also have a leading role in delivering nature-based solutions to climate change, including restoring Scotland’s peatlands, driving an expansion of native woodland and creating a Scottish Nature Network. They will also need to put Scotland’s agricultural sector on track to meet net zero climate targets, reducing emissions that have remained static since 2008, and to reverse the continuing decline of biodiversity through support for nature-friendly farming.

 

The appointment of the new Scottish cabinet team is a welcome step to giving the nature and climate emergency the priority needed to drive ambitious changes over the next five years. 

 

NOTES

[1] Details of cabinet appointments are available here: https://www.gov.scot/news/new-cabinet-appointed-1/