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Networking our Networks to understand the "Green Recovery"

On 12 May 2021, the Improvement Service, the Scottish Local Authorities Economic Development Group (SLAED) and the Sustainable Scotland Network (SSN) hosted a workshop to explore what the “green economic recovery” looks like in practice for local government officers working on these priorities.

Over 50 people from 33 organisations attended the interactive session, which brought together officers from economic development and climate change alongside national organisations and Scottish Government to discuss what a sustainable recovery from COVID-19 could look like. It provided an opportunity to share ideas, projects and challenges, and explore ways to navigate and overcome barriers.

Current priorities

The session opened with a snapshot of current priorities and the relationship between economic development and climate change within local authorities. This varies across councils with some areas having a developed relationship and others taking first steps to explore the connection.

To set the scene, Pamela Smith presented activity and priorities from an economic development perspective, drawing on her experience at Falkirk Council and the Improvement Service, and highlighting the need for a just transition. George Tarvit, Director of the Sustainable Scotland Network, then updated on trends and direction in climate change and sustainable development, drawing on examples from across Scotland.

The recordings of the presentations are below.

Understanding the "Green Recovery" Workshop

Local actions

Smaller discussion groups then focused on what is happening in local areas to deliver a green recovery and explore the gaps and barriers.

Attendees identified a range of great work happening across Scotland around setting ambitious targets and embedding climate change into other strategies, for example economic strategies, community learning and development plans. However, there are gaps and barriers around political buy in, the need for long term and integrated thinking, funding, and lack of available expertise. Things that could help included events bringing people together, access to resources and knowledge sharing, whole system approaches/alignment of policies and priorities and senior level leadership and support.

Next steps

The workshop concluded with a review of the discussions and scoping next steps. When asked about areas for improvement, attendees identified training and carbon literacy, the need for tools and data analysis, and for further collaboration and integration across local authorities and beyond.

Key actions and ideas to take away were to continue networking both internally across services and with peers, and to continue conversations around what a “green recovery” means in practice.

The event received overwhelmingly positive feedback and the Improvement Service, SSN and SLAED also used the opportunity to understand how to better provide support to local authorities. These ideas are being reviewed and future activity is likely to include holding similar events, exploring opportunities to work beyond local authorities and scoping training opportunities, alongside pulling together key messages for senior leaders and Scottish Government.

To discuss the outcomes in more detail or be involved in future work please contact judi.kilgallon@improvementservice.org.uk.

Judi Kilgallon - Project Manager, Climate Change