Foreword from Scotland's Cabinet Secretary for Rural Affairs and Islands
I am delighted to present the Scottish Government's second annual report on our delivery of the National Islands Plan for 2021.
Against the backdrop of Brexit and COVID-19, the Scottish Government continues to support our island communities through the Plan and its accompanying Implementation Route Map. I am acutely aware of the impact both leaving the EU and the pandemic have had on our island communities. In response, over the past 12 months we have prioritised work which best supports a green recovery and long-term sustainability across our islands as we take forward delivery of the Plan.
Across the board, a number of commitments have either been fulfilled or are on their way to being met. The actions that we are taking to deliver on these commitments continue to help our island communities thrive, whilst the ongoing implementation of the Plan champions the uniqueness of our islands.
I am particularly proud to report that we have started the successful roll out of our £30 million Islands Programme. Through our Island Communities Fund and Healthy Islands Fund, we have been able to support numerous businesses, community groups and organisations. Investments have been made across many of the Strategic Objectives within the Plan, including sustainable economic development, health and wellbeing, and education.
In our 2021/22 Programme for Government, we commit to introducing a new Islands Bond initiative to help support repopulation in some of our most vulnerable communities. This directly responds to the feedback we received during the 2019 consultation process for the National Islands Plan, which highlighted depopulation as being the most crucial issue for people living on our islands. I wish to thank everyone who contributed to the consultation process for the Islands Bond, and look forward to publishing the analysis of this in the spring ahead of the launch of the Islands Bond in the summer.
The National Islands Plan contains a number of commitments designed to improve outcomes for island communities as they move towards carbon neutrality. These commitments will support our work to address the challenges that face all of Scotland's islands as we move towards a Just Transition. We recognise the urgency of this work and are fully committed to supporting six Scottish islands through the Carbon Neutral Islands project. A report setting out the steps we will take to support the islands included in the Carbon Neutral Islands project will be published by summer 2022.
The work that we undertake within the Scottish Government is only part of the story. Over the past year we have benefited from vital collaborations with local authorities, island stakeholders and communities themselves. The valuable knowledge, expertise and continued support of our partners is crucial to delivering the Plan and I look forward to continuing these relationships in the months and years ahead. I would like to conclude by thanking our islanders, stakeholders and local authorities for their tremendous support as we continue to deliver the National Islands Plan.
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