Highland Council and NatureScot meet to sign Edinburgh Declaration

12 December 2022

Highland Council/NatureScot news release

Council Leader and officials meet NatureScot CEO to sign Edinburgh Declaration

Senior figures at Highland Council met today (12 December 2022) with NatureScot CEO Francesca Osowska to underline its commitment to tackle the climate and ecological emergency and mark the official signing of the Edinburgh Declaration.

Highland Council Leader, Cllr Raymond Bremner signed the declaration on behalf of the local authority following a recommendation by Members at the inaugural Climate Change Committee earlier this month. 

The Edinburgh Declaration sets out the aspirations and commitments of the members of the international community, the Scottish Government, Edinburgh Process Partners, and the wider subnational community working in biodiversity in delivering for nature over the coming decade.

Highland Council’s leaders and NatureScot also used today’s meeting to discuss how both organisations can work effectively together to prevent further biodiversity loss in Highland and share information about work already ongoing.

The high-level discussions involving the Highland Council Leader and NatureScot’s CEO also involved the Chair of Highland Council’s Climate Change Committee, Cllr Karl Rosie, Highland Council Acting Depute Chief Executive & Executive Chief Officer for Performance and Governance, Kate Lackie and NatureScot's Director of Nature and Climate Change, Nick Halfhide.

The talks focused mainly on the work NatureScot and the Highland Council is already doing and will need to do to address biodiversity issues within the local authority area and was timed to coincide with COP15, the United Nation’s Biodiversity Conference which is running between 7 and 19 December in Montreal, Canada.

COP 15 is convening governments from around the world to agree to a new set of goals for nature over the next decade through the Convention on Biological Diversity post-2020 framework process.

Leader of The Highland Council, Cllr Raymond Bremner said: “We are delighted to welcome Francesca here today to learn more about what Highland Council has been doing to protect biodiversity within Highland and address the ecological and climate emergency declared by this local authority in 2019.”

He added: “It was a privilege to have signed the Edinburgh Declaration on behalf of Highland Council By signing this agreement, the Council has reinforced its existing commitment to tackling climate change and biodiversity loss.

“It will also ensure the continued provision of the nature services on which we all depend, the delivery of net zero targets and allow us to tackle and adapt to a rapidly changing climate.”

Francesca Osowska, NatureScot’s Chief Executive said: “We welcome Highland Council signing the Edinburgh Declaration, demonstrating its strong commitment to tackle the nature and climate change emergencies. The Highlands is a beautiful and special place, and it is crucial we continue to build on the work – such as peatland restoration, tree regeneration and much more – to protect and restore nature throughout the region.”

She added: “With a 24% decline in nature over the last 30 years, we are in a full-scale nature crisis. We also know that we are facing a climate emergency.  These crises are linked and by tackling one, we tackle both.

“The good news is how much we can do to make a difference; in fact, nature-based solutions make up 40% of Scotland’s net zero journey. It’s vital that all of Scotland – from local authorities like Highland Council to corporations, small businesses, land managers, non-government organisations and communities and citizens – comes together for us to have a chance of meeting global biodiversity targets.”