Addressing the Nature Crisis in Scotland

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The world faces the challenges of climate change and biodiversity loss…[these] twin global crises…require us to work with nature to secure a healthier planet.” – Scottish Biodiversity Strategy Post-2020: A Statement of Intent

The twin crises of climate and nature are inextricably linked. Although the Scottish Government and many local authorities across Scotland have declared a Climate Emergency, there has been no such corresponding declaration for nature, which has been coined the ‘forgotten crisis’, despite the ongoing worldwide pandemic which originated in nature.

Despite spearheading the Edinburgh Process, leading to the Edinburgh Declaration ahead of the COP15 summit in China, with only 56% of our biodiversity intact (relative to, e.g. Canada with 89%), we clearly have some way to go in restoring and protecting our natural environment in Scotland.

Building on the “Nature Day” at our 2021 COP26 Fringe Festival, Holyrood Events hosted this policy event as part of our ongoing Climate Emergency Series. We looked at the multi-faceted issue of the nature crisis and biodiversity loss across Scotland. We then explored potential solutions and what Scotland’s (draft) refreshed post-2020 biodiversity strategy contributes to delivering these. As we strive to halt biodiversity loss and restore our natural world, we will also look at where this strategy potentially needs to go further.

By watching this event for free on demand, you will:

  • Better understand the Nature Crisis, the problems that lead to and arise from it, and the potential solutions to this multi-faceted issue.
  • Learn about the links between biodiversity loss, the threat to human health through the increased potential for pandemics, and some of the solutions available in education, sustainable agriculture/aquaculture, the circular economy, and broader social policy.
  • Learn about the seminal UK Treasury-commissioned Dasgupta Review, the economics of ecology, and the effect it can/may have on Scottish policy.
  • Hear from some of the most distinguished speakers on the nature crisis, biodiversity loss, and the natural environment.

The on-demand event is free to watch. This event is CPD certified in principle.

Join us for our other upcoming events in the Climate Emergency Series:

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Donald Henderson
Natural Resources Division, The Scottish Government
Prof. William Austin
Scottish Blue Carbon Forum
Dr Andrew Brownlow
Institute of Biodiversity Animal Health & Comparative Medicine, University of Glasgow
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Ella MacCulloch
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Finlay Taylor
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Katherine Parfitt
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Toni Lomont
Jo Pike
Jo Pike
Scottish Wildlife Trust
Alan Laidlaw CEO
Alan Laidlaw
Royal Highland & Agricultural Society of Scotland
Lukas Hardt Headshot
Dr Lukas Hardt
WEAll Scotland
Dr William Clark
Dr William Clark
Zero Waste Scotland
Annie Breaden
Annie Breaden
Crown Estate Scotland
Robin McAlpine
Robin McAlpine
Common Weal
Katia Karousakis Headshot
Katia Karousakis
Environment Directorate, OECD
Francesca Osowska
Claudia Beamish Headshot
Claudia Beamish
Scottish Labour
Oliver Greenfield Headshot
Oliver Greenfield
Green Economy Coalition
Prof. Dave Reay
University of Edinburgh
Irene Beautyman
Public Health Scotland and the Improvement Service

In her opening keynote address, the Chief Executive of NatureScot, will give a contextual overview of the nature crisis at home and abroad.  She will explain how and why we must live within our planetary boundaries but also how out of every crisis lies an opportunity for progress.

We are in an age of crises, from the unfolding economic crisis spiralling into a social crisis to the ongoing Covid crisis and, of course, the twin and mutually reinforcing crises of climate change and nature. The UN IPBES report draws the parallels of cause and effect between the nature emergency and the proliferation of pandemics. It states that up to 827,000 unknown viruses precipitated by human activities in the natural environment could infect people. In light of this, the need for a preventative approach is clear.  

In this session, we will discuss biodiversity loss and the nature crisis from the perspective of the broad sweep of crises before the discussion moves on later in the day from diagnosis to cure and, ultimately, prevention.

In the Preface of the recent review commissioned by the UK Treasury bearing his name, Partha Dasgupta noted that nature is negated by our current measurement of economic success, namely GDP. 

Scotland is a founding member of WeGo that aspires towards a ‘Wellbeing Economy’ – prioritising both people and planet, not GDP. How we value nature and incorporate it into our economic decision-making can have markedly improved policy outcomes for efforts to tackle the nature emergency.  

In this session, we will discuss both the theory and the practice behind redefining the value of nature to illuminate the relevance of the Dasgupta Review to Scottish policy. We will also discuss some practical measures, from green skills acquisition and enhancement to the investment required by the global financial and professional services sector necessary to make this and other visions of economic transformation to the benefit of nature a reality.

Scotland’s Just Transition Commission’s final report has recommended publishing a sector-specific plan for land and agriculture, including key milestones until 2045. The Commission identifies this as a critical part of pursuing an orderly, managed transition to net-zero that creates benefits and opportunities for people across Scotland.

However, at six times the size of the land area of Scotland, we mustn’t neglect the contribution the fishing industry and the wider blue economy have to make to Scotland’s green recovery and pursuit of a Just Transition. The Scottish Government emphasises this point in its Post-2020 Biodiversity Strategy Statement of Intent and its Blue Economy Action Plan.

In this session, we will discuss the economies of land and sea in Scotland – both important in our pursuit of nature-based solutions to the climate and the nature crises. We will examine what needs to be changed or accelerated so that our farming and fishing industries, in particular, are profitable but also sustainable.

The Edinburgh Declaration, the result of the Edinburgh Process led on a global scale by the Scottish Government in advance of COP15 in Kunming, China, emphasised the contributions that sub-national organisations can make at regional, city, and local levels.  

In this session, we will discuss the substance of the Edinburgh Declaration in practice, illuminate what cities, regions and local authorities can do in pursuit of 2030 goals (to be determined) and exhibit some urban examples of best practices in restoring and protecting nature.

In the run-up to COP26 in Glasgow last year, YoungScot led some flagship exemplar projects by young people, for young people including Scotland’s Young People’s Forest and the COP26 Youth Climate Programme. These projects have broadly set out to exemplify best practice in ecology and conservation. They have provided an excellent platform for a diverse group of young leaders to develop real-world practical knowledge, skills and experience.


In this session, facilitated by YoungScot, we will hear from a selection of young people in Scotland involved in these projects to tell us more about them, how they can and should be upscaled and what they would like to see decision-makers at home and abroad do now to make their ambitions a reality and to safeguard a nature-rich future.  

Scotland’s State of Nature 2019 report stated that there had been a 24% decline in average species abundance in Scotland, and 49% of species have declined in abundance in the last ten years. While the Green Infrastructure Fund is considered Europe’s first urban nature fund, Scotland – like most other countries – has failed to hit the COP10 Aitchi 2020 targets.

The forthcoming Biodiversity Strategy and what it proposes to do is essential for the future of our natural environment if we are to avoid what the RSPB has described as “a lost decade for nature”.  

The mood music has been positive with recent Programmes for Government unprecedented in their scope for the environment and the forthcoming Natural Environment Bill. Still, the next ten years in dealing with the key drivers of biodiversity loss is crucial if we are to avert catastrophe for the natural world and, therefore, our quality of life on this planet.

    Event Details
    • Start Date
      21 Jun 2022 10:00 am
    • End Date
      21 Jun 2022 3:00 pm
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