Holyrood 2016: six steps to a sustainable Scotland

Windfarm

​Daphne Vlastari of Scottish Environment Link on six steps Holyrood can take to meet sustainability commitments.

TFN Guest's photo

8th April 2016 by TFN Guest 1 Comment

The next legislature will take us up to 2020 – a year that we have long considered a milestone for making progress on critical issues such as climate change, biodiversity loss and improvement of our marine environment and the quality of our land.

While a lot of effort has gone into creating ambitious policies, we still have a lot of work ahead of us to realise those ambitions.

If we are to meet the targets we have set for ourselves and put Scotland on a truly sustainable path, real progress will have to be made in the next 4-5 years.

With this in mind Scottish Environment Link is asking Scottish political parties to put actions behind words and support six steps towards a more sustainable Scotland: The Scottish elections are fast approaching and while most of us are focusing on election campaigns and polls, we must not forget the significance of the work that needs to be undertaken during the next parliamentary term.

To deliver our national and international commitments, we need to step up efforts and put Scotland on the right trajectory

1. Ensure that the National Performance Framework is firmly based on the Shared Principles of Sustainability which the Scottish government has signed up and that it can help us track progress towards sustainable development. Challenges such as climate change, biodiversity loss, resource scarcity as well as others require a holistic approach that supersedes traditional policy silos.

2. Commit to a robust and urgent investment programme for building the infrastructure needed to deliver a more sustainable and socially just society. We need to bridge the current investment gap that is prohibiting the deployment and acceleration of plans for decarbonising transport, using combined heat and power as well as creating a more circular economy.

3. Propose a fully resourced marine monitoring strategy that uses sound science to ensure the effective management and implementation of Marine Protected Areas and the marine planning system. Applying a science based approach will be critical for Scotland to comply with the legal requirement that all its seas achieve good environmental status by 2020. Policies must be based on scientific evidence and also account for scientific uncertainty through the precautionary approach.

4. Launch discussions about the need to establish a “civic forum” where all parts of the Scottish policy community can openly and freely discuss and debate political issues before and in parallel with the formal branches of government that will continue to take decisions on public policy. 

5. Adopt an Ending of Environmental Poverty Act enshrining the fact that social justice and environmental justice are intrinsically linked. The poorest people live in the most environmentally degraded areas impacting multiple aspects of their lives. Environmental poverty must be tackled if we are to eradicate economic and social poverty.

6. Commit to setting and achieving serious targets to halt biodiversity loss; and set firm and ambitious targets to both retaining and improving the numbers and health of species in our land, sea and air. Efforts so far have been half-hearted with targets being watered down despite increasing evidence that Scotland is failing to achieve international targets. If we are to live within our planet’s environmental limits, we cannot continue ignoring this deficiency in Scottish governance.

Having signed up to the UN 2030 Agenda’s sustainable development targets, Scotland is already looking beyond 2020. To deliver not only on our national but also on our international commitments, we need to step up efforts and put Scotland on the right trajectory.

The six points outlined above are certainly a step in the right direction.

Daphne Vlastari is an advocacy office at Scottish Environment Link.

13th April 2016 by RealFreedom

"where all parts of the Scottish policy community can openly and freely discuss and debate political issues".Ha ha ha! Be honest, you really don't mean that that will apply to all parts, at least certainly not to UKIP or the SDL or any far right grouping.