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Natural Capital and Resource Efficiency

The Scottish Government believes that growth in Scotland should respect the three pillars of sustainability – economic, social and environmental. In line with its support of the three pillars, Scotland’s Economic Strategy affirms the Scottish Government’s ambition to rank in the top quartile of the OECD in terms of productivity, wellbeing, inequality and sustainability.[1]

The Government therefore supports robust EU environment policies which protect and enhance our stock of natural capital - including our air, land, water, soil, biodiversity and geological resources – to ensure a healthy and resilient economy. This approach is vital to the sustainable growth of sectors such as agriculture, forestry, fisheries, tourism and renewables.

Scotland is blessed with rich marine resources.  These have sustained our fishing communities for generations and we have taken a leading role in Europe in the promotion of sustainable fisheries management.  Our drive for regionalised management of fisheries policy resulted in some of the most meaningful improvements in the Common Fisheries Policy (CFP) since its inception.  Funding available under the European Maritime and Fisheries Fund (EMFF) will be directed towards our fishing sector to enable them to adjust to new sustainable practices introduced through the reform of the CFP.  Our focus must now be on implementing the new regulations and continuing to drive innovations in fisheries management to effect a sensible phasing in of the ban on fish discards, boost fish stocks and secure the long term future of the Scottish fishing industry. Similarly, Scotland’s growing aquaculture sector can benefit further from the renewed focus CFP brings to that sector, supported by the EMFF.  The sector represents significant economic potential with opportunities for further sustainable growth, providing high value jobs and wealth retention particularly in remote rural communities.

Other maritime sectors can benefit from the European Commission’s Blue Growth agenda which seeks to establish sustainable growth and jobs in marine economic activities such as marine and coastal tourism, blue biotechnology and renewable energy.  Scotland stands to benefit from an EU focus on marine resources and we have been active in shaping European thinking in these sectors.

Scotland has been able to lead the way in sectors where we have made strong progress.  For example the Scottish Marine Tourism Development Group launched the Strategic Framework for Scotland’s Marine Tourism sector in March 2015. The Strategic Framework recognises that key elements for success include access to consistent data to support investment decisions and highlight business opportunities, and that the right infrastructure is in the right place to facilitate the growth not only of the marine sector, but to ensure that sustainable economic growth carries across to coastal communities, inland waterways and wider tourism businesses to provide an authentic visitor experience.

Sustainability is a core element within the Strategic Framework.  Growth of the sector must be achieved with due regard to conserving the precious marine resource and environment of Scotland, which is a key asset and attraction. The work that has been undertaken by the Scottish Government in partnership with the industry has attracted the attention of the European Commission, enabling Scottish ideas and objectives to influence European policy.

There is considerable work underway across Scotland to explore the opportunities of a more circular economy where we recover and regenerate materials at the end of each service life.  An ambitious EU wide circular economy will benefit our businesses by opening up new opportunities to share, innovate and market our products and ideas.