Ambitious new route map points the way to £1 billion for nature conservation

22 May 2020

A route map towards unlocking £1 billion of new investment for nature conservation in Scotland has been published by the Scottish Wildlife Trust and the Scottish Environment Protection Agency (SEPA). This work comes at a critical time as society plans a green recovery from the social and economic upheaval caused by Covid-19, and continues to respond to the urgent climate and ecological emergencies.

The route map, which was developed in collaboration with a broad coalition of stakeholders and experts over a period of two years, highlights nine tangible opportunities for investment that would contribute to a green recovery and result in significant benefits for nature, people’s health and wellbeing, and the nation’s economy. Crucially, the route map also includes models which aim to stimulate investment in Scotland’s natural capital by delivering a financial return to investors.

Attracting new investment into nature through innovative approaches to tried and tested mechanisms would also help Scotland to meet its commitment to the Sustainable Development Goals, and help bridge a gap between the resources needed to tackle urgent challenges facing nature and the funding available from traditional sources (1).

Terry A’Hearn, Chief Executive of SEPA, said: “The global pandemic has drawn into sharp focus the connection between social, environmental and economic prosperity. We’re already seeing communities and companies rising to the challenge – from innovation like manufacturers switching production to health equipment to investors looking towards more sustainable business models.

“As we start to focus on recovery we must recognise the opportunity for that to be more inclusive and more sustainable. The £1 Billion Challenge provides a real opportunity to bring together real-world projects that spark regeneration of communities, build green businesses and create new jobs, with investors that understand that a successful, resilient economy depends not just on achieving financial returns - but on creating social and environmental value and success. 

“Scotland needs a globally competitive, entrepreneurial, inclusive and sustainable economy. At SEPA our One Planet Prosperity strategy will mean we can regulate in a radically new way - helping businesses bring commercial and environmental success together as the joint engine rooms of economic and social prosperity. SEPA is proud to be working with the Scottish Wildlife Trust and other partners on this innovative and progressive initiative to help support economic recovery, with benefits for Scotland’s people and environment.”

Jo Pike, Chief Executive, Scottish Wildlife Trust said: “We have seen during the pandemic that when human beings put their minds to it, it is possible to mobilise action on an unprecedented scale. The urgent challenges facing nature now require a step change in our response and we need to learn from recent experience. Many people have been reminded of the importance of the natural world during lockdown, and there is growing support for ensuring that the recovery from this crisis helps build a better future instead of returning us to business as usual.

“It is increasingly clear that solving the nature crisis will only be possible if we can develop new and innovative funding mechanisms that help us take solutions to scale. Our route map aims to identify ways to generate greater investment in nature conservation, whilst also creating green jobs, more resilient communities and helping to fight climate change. We hope it will stimulate further discussion about how these new models can be at the heart of a green recovery.”

Francesca Osowska, Chief Executive, NatureScot, added: “Having played our part to develop the route map, we are looking forward to delivering this important initiative. These plans are critical to bring conservation and business together to combat the climate emergency and reverse biodiversity loss. We look forward to helping make these connections and strengthening both Scotland’s biodiversity and economy. Nature-based solutions are going to be a vital part of green recovery after Covid-19 – and a green recovery is the only way to build a strong, resilient, inclusive, nature-rich and low-carbon economy for our future.”

The route map is the culmination of the Scottish Conversation Finance Project’s £1 Billion Challenge. It has been developed with the support of a wide range of private, public and third sector organisations (“Scottish Conservation Finance Pioneers”), including Conservation Capital, NatureScot, Central Scotland Green Network Trust and many more.

The nine opportunities outlined include a Natural Capital Pioneer Fund, a Marine Fund, and a first-of-its-kind Nature-Climate Bond.

Original source: Scottish Wildlife Trust