New group appointed to advise government on environmental issues

Scientists, climate and nature professionals have been appointed to a new group of international experts, tasked with advising the Scottish Government on environmental issues.

Formed as a commitment for the first 100 days of government, the First Minister’s Environmental Council will focus on Scotland’s ambitious trajectory, drawing on global best practice to keep Scotland at the forefront of tackling the climate emergency and ecological decline.

The council will be co-chaired by First Minister Nicola Sturgeon and Professor Sir Ian Boyd, former chief scientific adviser to the UK Government on Environment, Food and Rural Affairs. Its members include Scottish wildlife filmmaker and presenter Gordon Buchanan MBE and Dame Ellen MacArthur, the successful solo long-distance yachtswoman and champion for the circular economy.

The group will meet regularly to discuss a range of environmental issues, such as biodiversity, marine resources, waste, and the nature-based aspects of climate change and the Just Transition, before presenting their proposed work areas and future plans in a report at COP26.

The First Minister said: “The scientific report earlier this month from the UN Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) signalled a code red for humanity – it makes absolutely clear the severe threat and heightened risk posed by the twin crises of climate change and biodiversity loss. It is crucial that the international community takes this opportunity to significantly raise global climate action and ambition. With COP26 coming to Glasgow, Scotland has a unique opportunity to show leadership on the international stage.

“That’s why we committed to appoint, within the first 100 days of this government, environmental experts from around the world, to advise on international best practice to help us tackle this unprecedented challenge. The group will balance experience, a strong international perspective, the youth voice, and topical awareness, at the highest, global level.

“As well as acting as a sounding board for our near term policies, the group will advise us on the long-term policy trajectory for Scotland – taking into account the opportunities that becoming a net-zero society presents: growing our economy, improving our health and wellbeing and protecting Scotland’s iconic natural environment.”

Lang Banks, director of WWF Scotland, said: “As a nation, Scotland is well-positioned to be able to play a leading role in tackling the twin climate and nature emergencies.

“In most cases we already know what needs to be done to halt climate change and restore nature. However, what we need to see is swift and focussed action, with the Scottish Government leading the way. We hope that this new group can help support Scottish Ministers to more rapidly deliver a future where people and nature thrive.”

Members of the First Minister’s Environmental Council

  • Professor Sir Ian L Boyd FRSB FRSE FRS (Co-Chair), University of St Andrews, President-elect of the Royal Society of Biology
  • Professor Ian Bateman OBE, US-NAS, FBA, FRSA, FRSB, Director of Land, Environment, Economics and Policy Institute, University of Exeter Business School
  • Gordon Buchanan MBE, award-winning wildlife camera-man and presenter
  • Revati Campbell, MSYP for Dundee West
  • Professor Gretchen Daily, Bing Professor of Environmental Science, Stanford University, USA Faculty Director – The Natural Capital Project
  • Professor Sandra Diaz, National University of Cordoba, Argentina
  • Susan Davies FRSB, Chief Executive, Scottish Seabird Centre
  • Erin Fowler, University of Glasgow
  • Dame Ellen MacArthur, Founder & Chair of Trustees Ellen MacArthur Foundation
  • Professor Yadvinder Malhi, University of Oxford
  • Dr Ece Özdemiroğlu, founding director of eftec (economics for the environment consultancy)
  • Dr Dilys Roe, Principal Researcher and Team Leader (Biodiversity) and Chair, IUCN Sustainable Use and Livelihoods Specialist Group (SULi), International Institute for Environment and Development (IIED)
  • Dame Julia Slingo FRS, Chief Scientist of the UK Met Office (2009 -2016)
  • Professor Pete Smith FRS, FRSE, FNA, FEurASc, FI Soil Sci., FRSB, Professor of Soils & Global Change, University of Aberdeen