Shaping and influencing policy - September 2020

The past six months have seen the Covid-19 pandemic challenge people and governments around the world in unprecedented ways. During this time, we have continued our policy work aimed at supporting and laying the foundations for a truly green recovery from the pandemic in the years to come.

Strategic engagement and working collaboratively

Both through our own policy submissions and by collaborating with others, we have sought to help set a positive agenda for a just and green recovery over the past few months. Firstly, we submitted responses to both the Environment, Climate Change and Land Reform Committee’s Call for Views on a Green Recovery and the Call for Views of the Advisory Group on Economic Recovery. In both responses, we made the case for a Green Recovery which ensures we continue making progress towards being a net-zero emissions society while also reflecting the crucial importance of local environments in supporting our health and wellbeing, particularly in light of the pandemic.

As members of Scottish Environment LINK and Stop Climate Chaos Scotland, meanwhile, we also supported and endorsed both of these coalitions’ responses to the calls for evidence on green recovery, each of which encompassed the breadth of member organisations’ expertise across a wide range of environmental issues. Recent months have also seen us engage with and support LINK’s responses to the ECCLR Committee’s Call for Views on the UK Withdrawal from the European Union (Continuity) (Scotland) Bill and the UK Government’s consultation on the UK Internal Market Bill. Finally, July saw the publication of the Climate Emergency Response Group's report Eight Policy Packages for Scotland’s Green Recovery, the findings of which we strongly supported.

Developing and engaging with policy

We have also engaged with two other important groups currently working on policy development in areas with lots of relevance to our work: the Just Transition Commission and the Town Centre Action Plan Review Group. In our submission to the former, we set out our ideas as to what a successful transition to net-zero emissions should look like, including a strong focus on education, community engagement and the potential for Scotland to act as a catalyst for action around the world.

In our submission to the Town Centre Action Plan Review Group’s Call for Evidence, meanwhile, we discussed the importance of high local environmental quality in ensuring town centres are sustainable and liveable, while also highlighting the inspiring work of Beautiful Scotland and It’s Your Neighbourhood groups in driving community involvement with the environmental improvement of town centres across the country.

Demonstrating expertise and credibility

September has seen the publication of the Scottish Government’s 2020-21 Programme for Government, in which we were pleased to see recognition of our work with the online education platform e-Sgoil as well as several new measures aimed at securing a sustainable, green recovery from Covid-19.

In July, meanwhile, we welcomed the publication of the Scottish Government’s landmark review of Scotland’s progress towards delivering the UN Sustainable Development Goals. The report was developed in partnership with the SDG Network Scotland and provides crucial evidence on the challenges we face in meeting the goals by 2030 as we get to grips with the new context of the global pandemic. As well as being members of the SDG Network Scotland, we also formed a part of the small working group within the Network which developed the report.

Finally, we have also recently welcomed the latest report of the Expert Panel on Environmental Charging and Other Measures, which set out five key principles for guiding decision-making around single use items. We were encouraged to find significant alignment between this approach and the one we have taken with our Cup Movement in Glasgow, and we will ensure that the Panel’s recommendations inform our work in this area going forward.

30 September 2020

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