Dr Clive Mitchell awarded Honorary Fellowship of the Royal Scottish Geographical Society

19 November 2019

NatureScot is delighted that Dr Clive Mitchell has been made an Honorary Fellow of the Royal Scottish Geographical Society (RSGS).

With more than 20 years of expertise in environmental policy and sustainable development, Dr Mitchell uniquely bridges social and natural sciences, climate change and natural capital.  

As NatureScot’s recently appointed Outcome Manager for People and Nature, Dr Mitchell is also a lecturer with the Open University where he evaluates the effects of global policy and practice on food systems, the environment and sustainable development. 

Previously, as team leader for climate change, energy, transport and buildings at the UK Sustainable Development Commission (SDC), he acted as a critical friend to Government, and continues to work closely with Ministers and officials.

Presenting Dr Mitchell with the Fellowship, RSGS Chair Roger Crofts said: “I am always delighted that RSGS recognises excellence. Personally, this is special for me as Clive and I worked together in NatureScot on the Natural Heritage Futures programme. I know from that how focussed and determined, innovative and creative, personable and persuasive he is. Well done!”

NatureScot Chief Executive Francesca Osowska said: “Uniquely talented and persuasive, Clive is brilliantly able to embrace the social and natural sciences in articulating the urgency and detail of what we need to do in meeting the challenge of the recently proclaimed climate emergency in Scotland.  Modest, kindly helpful and warmly receptive to new ideas, Clive is a wonderful colleague and mentor.  His Fellowship is richly deserved.”

Dr Mitchell is passionate in his belief that the quality of our natural environment is fundamental to Scotland’s identity and reputation, to increasing inclusive, sustainable economic growth, and to the health and well-being of its people.

A geologist by training, he is especially interested in how the internal workings of the Earth interact with the surface, giving rise to various cycles - the hydrological system, carbon cycle and the co-evolution of nature and climate as a coupled system.

Previously, he led the Natural Heritage Futures team to publish 28 local and national documents and a new evidence base to show what Scotland’s natural capital could look like in 25 years through integrated uses for multiple benefits.  For this, Clive worked closely with the founder CEO of NatureScot, Professor Roger Crofts FRSE CBE, the first NatureScot staff member to be made a Hon FRSGS (the only other was Professor John Gordon).

Dr Mitchell has provided evidence to Westminster and Holyrood Parliamentary committees, and pioneered ‘ball-park’ calculations to simplify and assess the carbon savings from wind farms on peaty soils - which became the ‘industry standard’ and led to the Scottish Government’s calculator.  He worked with then SG Strategy Unit to develop environmental indicators to better illustrate relationships between the environment and wellbeing in ‘Scotland Performs’, securing the Natural Capital Asset Index as one of the National Indicators.

Co-authoring a letter to Nature (5 Sept 2018) on the need to acknowledge power and bias and to add ‘open-mindedness’ to principles to guide evidence synthesis for policy (his first Nature paper was in 1986 – ‘Are the Falkland Islands a rotated microplate?’), he has emerged as the go-to person on the interface between the natural and social sciences needed to sustain environmental sustainability.