First Minister's Environmental Council: first report, key priorities and future work programme

This is the first report by the First Minister’s Environmental Council. It notes Scotland’s ambitions and response to the twin crises, international examples of environmental action, and sets out the directions of the future work programme for the Council.

5. The Environmental Council's Proposed Work Themes

Drawing on the above analysis, the Environmental Council has identified the following areas where members' collective expertise, spanning academic development, advocacy, communication through to empirical experience can be utilised to provide the greatest value to the Scottish Government.

These areas are summarised below under three overarching themes. The themes are different views of an interlinked system and are not intended to be neatly separable. The Council will prioritise amongst these, coordinating with other relevant advisory bodies.

5.1 Scotland's Space on the Planet

Transforming land use for multiple outcomes, including nature, climate, agriculture and people, and the equivalent activity for marine areas. Identifying actions and policy options that align with the scale of Scottish Government ambition and long-term trajectory to build a Scotland that lives, and thrives, within earth's sustainable limit and maintains a healthy environment for future generations whilst recognising the value of cultural heritage.

5.1.1. Change across the land

The approach to large-scale transformation of land uses to meet new demands. Large-scale transformation of management objectives for Scotland's landscapes encompassing a new balance and types of land use (scope could include targeting policy to the right locations for environmental, economic and social change; food system redesign, and just transaction for livelihoods and new approaches to agriculture: sustainably intensive through to regenerative, embedding biodiversity).

Policy areas: agriculture, biodiversity, environmental quality, energy, planning, forestry, rural economy, tourism and recreation

5.1.2 The space at sea

Accommodating the multiple demands/objectives on Scotland's marine resources and just transition for coastal communities.

Policy areas: marine biodiversity, renewables, mining, fisheries, aquaculture, tourism

5.1.3 The choice is local

Balancing priorities in practice, in a particular context, and how local circumstances, context (including culture and heritage) and communities are reflected in decision making, but national policies also delivered.

Policy areas: Regional Land Use Partnerships, rural and urban economy, green jobs, planning

5.2 Scotland's Communities in the Environment

Scotland's life and work, the society and economy that it generates and its relationship to the environment and society's response to the twin crises.

5.2.1 Innovating means Circular

How does Scotland continue the move from 'here' to a circular economy? Resources, supplies, education and skills required for a networked, sustainable economy. What needs to change (identify all aspects) and what needs to be in place to enable those changes? The role of innovation and of access to local goods.

5.2.2 Nature-based living

Ensuring that land based and marine-based transformation embeds a just transition for rural and coastal communities.

5.2.3 Supporting behaviour change

Supporting the behaviour changes needed to meet the government's long term environmental objectives.

5.2.4 Better choices

People have the information and resources they need on the sustainability of different choices so that their choices as consumers can be more informed (what to buy, how to buy it, how to travel).

Policy areas: sustainable economy, Just Transition, transport, energy, circular economy, planning

5.3 Next steps towards transformation (innovation & policy change)

Achieving the government's 2030 ambitions and preparing for 2045. This will involve considering:

5.3.1 Moving from understanding to action

If we recognise the dichotomy of motivation (see Annex 2) to take action as either a moral responsibility or to protect goods and services of value to society, we need to explain underpinning philosophies and motivations to achieve change.

5.3.2 Changing mindsets

The tools to effectively and inclusively listen, empathise, communicate, and build consensus on, the changes necessary at a national, regional and person level to meet the government's environmental policy ambitions.

5.3.3 A level playing field to fair transformation

The development of appropriate, fair and just objectives, incentives and accountabilities. Setting a level playing field for individuals, households, communities, institutions, local and national business – to know what is expected, be incentivised and also be held accountable.

5.3.4 Systems and scope

Tools and processes to bring systems thinking and policy targeting, focusing on what is important and valuable for the society to survive and thrive, with global context and inter-generational timescale are needed to ensure clear direction through transformational change, aiming for multiple benefits that are adaptive to a changing climate. Ensuring these tools and systems are informed by an intersectional team that is representational and ensuring inclusivity and climate justice is not lost as we rapidly try to adapt to the crisis and mitigate further change.

Policy areas: rural economics, circular economy, biodiversity, just transition



Back to top