Just transition in land use and agriculture: a discussion paper

This discussion paper is intended to support engagement on a just transition for the land use and agriculture sectors. Building on this engagement, a draft targeted action plan and route map (late 23/24) will outline the key steps to delivering a fair transition.

Draft Just Transition Outcomes

Set out below are a proposed set of first draft outcomes that seek to articulate the National Just Transition Outcomes in a more sector specific approach for land use and agriculture and wider rural Scotland.

Jobs and Economy

1. The nature of employment in the land and agriculture sectors has evolved: there are good, green jobs from sustainable food production, natural capital projects, land management and tourism across Scotland, particularly in rural and remote areas. Those in traditional land and agriculture jobs have been supported to continue producing high quality, sustainable food and maintain traditional rural trades while diversifying their incomes, including through appropriate and accessible training and upskilling.

2. The land use and agriculture sectors are diverse and are flourishing. They enable more local employment opportunities for all to enter land-based sectors.

3. Barriers to developing the rural economy including affordable accommodation, transport, pensions, and skills have been addressed.

4. Scotland's sustainable tourism and natural capital sector is thriving and has attracted investment which has brought direct benefits to local communities.

5. The food sector is aproductive andsustainable sector of the economythat helps ensure that Scotland's people can live and work sustainably on our land while playing a significant role in Scotland's economy and international standing.

And changes in land management are well managed and farmers and crofters are well supported duringthetransition.

Communities and Places

1. Communities are revitalised through the growth of the green economy, including in food production, nature-based solutions and increased sustainable tourism.

2. Rural communities can access high quality, affordable and accessible public services and facilities that positively enhance our lives.

3. Community-led land management, community ownership and wealth-building ensures that wealth generated by Scotland's natural assets is retained and redirected back into local communities.

4. Food production results in a better deal for communities having delivered on Good Food Nation ambitions and Local Food strategies, created more localised supply chains, enhanced producer value and cut food miles. This will provide sustainable, healthy, affordable food and the benefits of local supply chains.

5. Communities are strengthened, resilient (including to the impacts of climate change) and empowered to be involved as decision makers; communities have increased levels of participation in shaping how local resources/land are used; and the experiences and culture of rural communities are recognised, valued and part of the transition (e.g. communities with a strong cultural connection to peat supported to build a new relationship with peat as a carbon sink).

People & Equity

1. The transition to net zero supports efforts to reduce rural povertyand inequality, including inequalities associated within land ownership and governance.

2. Improved health and wellbeing through access to good quality green and blue spaces and good quality, affordable, healthy, sustainably sourced food.

3. Farmers and crofters are supported throughout the transition to net zero (e.g., finance, advisory and skills provision support) developing the skills needed for regenerative and sustainable farming, changes of land use management and adaptation to the changing climate.They are empowered to make decisions about their future, with their wellbeing and mental health supported throughout.

Environment and adaptation

1. Support for upskilling, reskilling, business diversification and where appropriate financial support has helped people to deliver nature-based solution such as increased forest, woodland and hedgerow cover, peatland restoration, nature networks, and coastal ecosystem enhancements. Allowing Scotland's natural environment to help mitigate and adapt to climate change whilst benefiting biodiversity, and wider environmental, social, and economic ambitions (e.g., through the positive impacts of flood prevention and cooling).

2. Agriculture is sustainable and regenerative from farm to fork and contributes to our circular economy by reducing waste and pollution.

3. Natural capital / nature-based solutions projects not only help meet climate change and biodiversity targets but deliver value and opportunities for local communities.

Discussion points - These draft outcomes are subject to discussion with stakeholders throughout the first phases of the engagement process. We would appreciate feedback on:

  • Whether these outcomes look proportionate and relevant for the change required?
  • If there are any additional factors that need to be included as part of the outcomes?
  • What opportunities and / or barriers exist within the land use and agriculture sectors that may support or prevent the delivery of these outcomes?

Early conversations with stakeholders have already begun to highlight areas for further discussion. These should not be seen as a restricted list but as examples to help stimulate discussions:

  • upskilling / retraining across all relevant supply chains
  • the provision of / support for alternative income streams for land-based businesses
  • gaining new entrants from across social and cultural demographics
  • how direct land use and agricultural support has and may impact / benefit wider supply chains and rural communities
  • what community empowerment, community benefits and community wealth building mean to rural and island areas
  • the linkages between the land-based sectors and public health
  • support for mental health or for those wishing to leave the sectors
  • a just transition that also improves habitats, ecosystems and increases resilience to a changing climate


Email: justtransition@gov.scot

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