By Alison Lee
Today is St Andrew’s Day. As St Andrew is the patron saint of Scotland, what better way to mark it than with a blog post from our Scotland Liaison Officer.
Supporting the delivery of devolved environmental priorities in the UK through shared solutions and joint working is one of JNCC’s strengths. I have been in post for a year now, as JNCC’s Scotland Liaison Officer, facilitating engagement with our Scottish colleagues right across JNCC’s wide portfolio of work. I focus my efforts on joining up common areas of work between the Scottish Government, NatureScot and JNCC, to make connections, enhance our collaborative working, and ensure smooth flows of data and information.
JNCC plays an important role in providing technical support on multilateral environmental agreements; developing cost-effective, robust evidence to underpin decision making; contributing expertise to best practice and shared solutions; and providing expertise and skills in critical work areas. Over the past year I have been involved in workshops and meetings covering an array of topics, including natural capital, marine biodiversity, land management policies, air pollution, biodiversity strategies, and climate change. Another important part of the role is sharing news and updates from Scotland with my JNCC colleagues, be those changes in legislation and policy, new projects, funding opportunities, or staff changes. My job is fast-paced, often challenging, never boring and no two days are ever the same!
Significant opportunities now arise for our collaborative approaches to nature conservation in Scotland, for example: advances in technologies for monitoring and surveillance, changes in policies for managing our land and seas following EU exit, and the development of the post-2020 global biodiversity framework. There are significant challenges too, with the twin crises of climate change and biodiversity loss. All of these issues are placed at the heart of JNCC’s work.
Scotland and the UK often play a leading role in nature conservation efforts, and most recently, the eyes of the world focussed on Glasgow for two weeks in November. At COP26, a variety of events raised the profile of nature as a key part of the solution to climate change. Staff from JNCC, NatureScot and many other organisations took part in events, either by contributing presentations, leading discussions or sharing their skills and expertise. NatureScot’s key message, “Climate is Nature, Nature is Climate”, highlighted the intrinsic links between the twin emergencies of climate change and nature loss, yet also the positive outcomes that can be achieved when tackling them both together.
I was fortunate to attend COP26 for a day, to share the work of the Inter-Agency Climate Change Group, working alongside colleagues from NatureScot, Natural England and Natural Resources Wales. Our stand illustrated approaches to delivering Nature-based Solutions at scale across an array of habitats and sparked conversations with a diverse audience, from school children and students, to businesses and policymakers. I came away from Glasgow with a shared sense of purpose – the benefits of collaboration and working together in partnership shone though in all our discussions. I am keen to continue playing my part in helping JNCC enhance and strengthen its collaborations, ensuring that our evidence and advice supports Scotland in delivering its priorities.
As winter approaches and the nights draw in, St Andrew’s Day usually provides Scots with a chance to dust off their dancing shoes as they head out for traditional dancing, music and festivities at ceilidhs or other events across the country. Celebrating is something Scots do well, and there is usually food and drink aplenty to accompany the swish of kilts and the skirl of pipes as the celebrations continue into the wee small hours. So I’ll sign off by wishing you a happy St Andrews Day – hoping that Scots both at home and abroad are able to sing, dance and make merry as we celebrate our national day once again.
If you would like to find out more about JNCC’s work with Scotland, please get in touch.
(Images: Edinburgh skyline, Alison, The Cairngorms SAC – courtesy of Alison Lee).