First Minister meets global environmental experts at COP26

05 November 2021

Original source: Scottish Government

New report advises Scottish Government on environment priorities.

The First Minister’s Environmental Council, the group of independent international experts tasked with advising the Scottish Government on environmental issues, has published its first report.

Presented at COP26, the report analyses Scotland’s ambitions and response to the twin climate and nature crises, notes international examples of environmental action and sets out the future work programme of the council. Use of land and marine resources are among the key areas where the council advise that further, urgent action is particularly important.

The First Minister met the council which she co-chairs with Professor Sir Ian Boyd, former Chief Scientific Adviser to the UK Government on Environment, Food and Rural Affairs. They were joined in person by ten other members of the council including Gordon Buchanan MBE, award-winning wildlife camera-man and presenter, and Dr Dilys Roe, Chair of International Institute for Environment and Development (IIED).

The report is published as the Scottish Government launches a new website for tracking progress towards achieving its environmental ambitions. Based on Scotland’s Environment Strategy, the site is designed to ensure clear and accessible information on Scotland’s environmental performance is available to the public.

The First Minister said:

“As the host country of COP26, Scotland has a unique opportunity to show leadership on the international stage. That’s why we appointed independent environmental experts from around the world to advise on how we best tackle this unprecedented challenge.

“The group balances experience, a strong international perspective, the youth voice, and topical awareness, at the highest, global level. Its first report sets out areas of immediate priority which will help inform the actions we are taking now to tackle the crisis, and our future policy direction.

“Our Environment Strategy already sets out our long-term, guiding vision for Scotland’s environment and our role in tackling the twin climate and nature crises. We know where our efforts must be focussed if we are to make that a reality – including improving the sustainability of Scotland’s economy, society and global footprint.

“By measuring our progress, and drawing on the expertise of the environmental council, we can make sure we continually improve our approach. I welcome the council’s first report and look forward to working closely with its members beyond COP26 as we progress to becoming a net zero country, while restoring nature.”

Francesca Osowska, NatureScot Chief Executive, said:

“The link between nature and climate can’t be understated with nature-based solutions delivering 30% of the carbon reductions needed globally. Ongoing efforts to restore peatlands, increase woodlands and protected natural areas and develop natural capital initiatives are all highlighted in the panel’s first report.

“As the report says, there is much more work needed to restore Scotland’s fragile nature. We look forward to this panel continuing to help direct our efforts, as we step up work to restore Scotland’s nature, adapt to unavoidable climate change, and achieve net zero by 2045.”


The First Minister’s Environmental Council is a newly established advisory group to the Scottish Government, made up of 14 international experts members include leading scientists, climate and nature professionals. The main purpose of the First Minister’s Environmental Council is to advise the government on international best practice and keep Scotland at the forefront of tackling the climate emergency and ecological decline. The publication of this report delivers a manifesto commitment that asked the First Minister’s Environmental Council to report at COP26.

The Environment Strategy for Scotland: Initial Monitoring Framework identifies the set of high level indicators that will be used to track progress towards the Environment Strategy outcomes. The newly launched Environment Strategy Monitoring Framework website reports on the status and trends of these indicators in an accessible online format, and describes what this means in terms of progress towards the Environment Strategy outcomes.