The Environment Strategy for Scotland: vision and outcomes

Overview of the Environment Strategy for Scotland’s long-term vision and supporting outcomes.

3. The role of the Environment Strategy

The Environment Strategy creates an overarching framework for Scotland's existing environmental strategies and plans, including the Climate Change Plan. These will be reviewed over time, to reflect international targets and other policy developments. The vision and outcomes set out in this document will help to guide the future development and delivery of these strategies and plans by establishing our long-term direction and shared goals.

We will develop pathways for delivering outcomes, identifying strategic priorities and opportunities. This will help to ensure our efforts are focused in the areas that will have greatest impact. We will work with existing policy frameworks and review processes[11] and identify opportunities to improve the delivery of multiple outcomes.

The Environment Strategy will sit alongside existing high-level Scottish Government policy frameworks, including Scotland's Economic Strategy,[12] the Fairer Scotland Action Plan,[13] the National Transport Strategy[14] and the National Planning Framework.[15] The natural environment makes an important contribution to Scotland's National Outcomes. This strategy sets a clear direction for making more of our opportunities. It will help us to take better decisions for Scotland's future, and to use new powers and freedoms to advance the wellbeing of people in Scotland.

Finally, the long-term goals set out in the strategy will help to guide us as we navigate the changing political context resulting from the UK government's decision to leave the EU. They will help to ensure that - despite the challenges posed by EU Exit - we remain focused on the most important issues for Scotland, supporting our commitment to maintain or exceed existing environmental standards. The Environment Strategy is a key foundation to our strategic approach to environmental policy, alongside future arrangements for environmental principles, governance and monitoring. Further information on our strategic approach is summarised in Box C.

We have based the development of our strategy on evidence. The quality of evidence on our environment in Scotland, and on the effectiveness of policies, is mixed. We have reviewed the evidence and have published summaries as knowledge accounts. That evidence has helped to inform the development of our vision and outcomes. We have also benefited from a rich discussion with a wide range of stakeholders. We will continue to assess evidence and use this to inform our approach.

Box C: Strategic approach to environmental policy

Figure 4: Elements of our strategic approach
Figure 4

Infographic text:

Environment Strategy - To set out our long-term strategic ambitions and policy priorities for the environment
Principles - To ensure our environmental laws and policies are designed effectively to achieve our long-term ambitions
Governance - To ensure our environmental laws and policies are rigorously implemented and enforced
Monitoring Framework - To track and report progress towards achieving our long-term ambitions, and use this to improve our approach

Our strategic approach to environmental policy (Figure 4) brings together our Environment Strategy and future arrangements for environmental principles, governance and monitoring into a single, integrated framework - supporting our objective to maintain or exceed EU environmental standards.

  • This Environment Strategy describes our long-term ambitions and priorities for action.
  • We will propose legislation to ensure that the four EU environmental principles continue to influence the development of policy in Scotland, supporting the achievement of our environmental ambitions. These principles will continue to guide any significant policy and legislative developments that could have a significant environmental effect.
    • Precautionary principle. Where there are threats of serious or irreversible damage, lack of full scientific certainty should not be used as a reason for postponing cost-effective measures to prevent environmental degradation.
    • Polluter pays principle. The polluter should bear the cost of pollution control and remediation.
    • Prevention principle. Preventative action should be taken to avoid environmental damage.
    • Rectification at source principle. Environmental damage should, as a priority, be rectified at source.
  • We will develop a proportionate system of environmental governance, to ensure the continued effective implementation of environmental law.
  • We will develop a monitoring framework to track progress in delivering our Environment Strategy - helping to inform improvements in our approach.

The First Minister's Advisory Group on Human Rights Leadership recommended the establishment of a right to a healthy environment.[16] Our strategic approach will take account of the development of this new right.



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