On World Environment Day RSPB Scotland's Erica Mason and Isobel Mercer share 5 priority policy interventions for a green recovery.

World Environment Day: Five policy interventions for a green recovery

We are in a global public health crisis that has caused global disruption, tragedy and lockdown, but we mustn’t forget that the world was already in the midst of a different crisis long before the pandemic. The past few years have seen increasing awareness that the connected threats of global heating and the continued loss of nature are real and urgent, with many individuals and organisations imploring governments to take immediate action internationally and at home. Despite the upheaval of the past months, the threats presented by climate change and the nature loss are still real and urgent.

Less than a year ago, the State of Nature report highlighted that 49% of species in Scotland have declined and one in nine are threatened with national extinction. Since lockdown measures began there have been some changes in a hopeful direction: electricity consumption and pollution are down and last month the UK recorded its first-ever coal free month. These are positive steps; however there is still much work to be done to halt the destruction of our ecosystems and reverse nature’s decline.

balranald machair

As we turn to what is next in the wake of the pandemic, we must reflect on what we have learned from- and about- our environment during this time. For example; the inability to freely roam outside has created a keen awareness in people of the importance of nature-rich green space. While many of us have joined in breakfast birdwatch-ing and daily walks in nature, still more have stared out their windows at urban landscapes devoid of nature-rich greenspace and walked through city streets missing the open expanses and dark skies of much of Scotland’s rural landscapes. It has never been clearer that access to nature is not shared equally.

The Scottish Government has pledged a recovery that is green, inclusive, and focused on wellbeing, but recovery must also have nature at its heart. Investing in nature’s recovery now will deliver widespread benefits across Scotland and support a vibrant, thriving and resilient economy that will be better equipped to deal with future shocks.  

forsinard flows

In answer to a recent call for views from the Scottish Government’s Economic Advisory Group, RSPB Scotland proposed five priority policy interventions for a green recovery. These policies would invest in our natural assets, support creation of green jobs and industries, contribute to nature’s recovery, help us to mitigate and adapt to climate change, improve the nation’s health and wellbeing and help achieve access to nature for all.

  1. Strengthen protections for nature to lock in the benefits of a green recovery and maintain and restore our natural assets, which are fundamental to a resilient economy.
  2. Invest in Green and Blue Infrastructure to deliver benefits for quality of life and wellbeing, climate and nature.
  3. Deliver a Scottish Nature Network to provide a strategic approach for green and blue infrastructure delivery across Scotland and achieve access to nature for all.
  4. Deliver Nature-based Solutions to the climate crisis, at scale such as peatland restoration and native woodland expansion, which would create green jobs and restore ecosystems.
  5. Transform the food and farming system to work for nature, climate and people, repurposing financial support for farmers and land managers to primarily deliver public goods such as biodiversity, high quality drinking water, air and soil and resilience to flooding.

Today, June 5, is the United Nation’s World Environment Day, which encourages awareness and action for our natural environment. Just as we need nature, nature needs us, and our recovery is intertwined with nature’s recovery. As we look to the future, we must ask ourselves not only what is next for ourselves, but what is next for nature?

You can read our full response on achieving a green recovery in the PDF below:

RSPB Scotland - proposals for a Green Recovery.pdf