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The voice of Scotland’s vibrant voluntary sector

Published by Scottish Council for Voluntary Organisations

TFN is published by the Scottish Council for Voluntary Organisations, Mansfield Traquair Centre, 15 Mansfield Place, Edinburgh, EH3 6BB. The Scottish Council for Voluntary Organisations (SCVO) is a Scottish Charitable Incorporated Organisation. Registration number SC003558.

Investing in a lean, green recovery machine

This opinion piece is almost 4 years old

Duncan Thorp believes the sector can achieve a win-win for people and the planet post-Covid

As Scotland and the rest of the world begin to emerge from lockdown we’re faced with challenges on a number of fronts.

A post-lockdown economic crisis and unemployment add to the pre-existing issues of soaring social inequality and the climate emergency.

You might be forgiven for thinking that these challenges are not only overwhelming but entirely separate issues. But of course they’re inextricably linked. Climate crises cause poverty, unemployment causes inequality and so on. The question is how do we solve these seemingly impossible problems?

Firstly there can be no economic recovery without a green recovery. Without the planet and the finite resources we have there simply is no economy. It’s this green strand that needs to inform all economic thinking going forward.

There are lots of social enterprises working with a green mission, businesses like the Edinburgh Remakery, Instinctively Wild, ReTweed, Furniture Plus and many others. They’re contributing in big ways in local communities, providing jobs as well as social and environmental benefits.

We recently did some work on what a green recovery might look like, reaching out to organisations like SCDI, CRNS and Scottish Environment Link to find common ground. While we approached a green recovery from different perspectives it was great to experience positive partnership working and discover shared values.

In terms of solutions we need a green investment strategy for Scotland, to create skilled jobs in renewables, green technology and conservation. This must include significant supply chain opportunities for social and green enterprises in major projects.

Duncan Thorp
Duncan Thorp

Underpinning this should be a circular economy approach. Many social enterprises work in recycling, reuse and related sectors. Investing in and supporting these companies makes environmental common sense.

Opening up public procurement to social enterprises and locally owned SMEs is a key point too. What can local authorities and public bodies now do differently? We’ve had procurement reform but how can they now prioritise green, sustainable procurement for economic recovery? Consumers should also be urged to buy local and ethical.

In light of increasing unemployment a green jobs initiative is essential, with a fund to help unemployed workers transfer their skills to new, green jobs and apprenticeships. In particular there should be an employment programme that places young people and employment in social enterprises at the centre.

Lockdown has seen social enterprises and community groups take charge of local food distribution for those in need. Community groups involved in food banks, emergency food and community food growing should receive support in order to develop their work.

Social housing should be another key green objective. Social housing providers need more investment to retrofit properties for energy efficiency and also construct new eco-friendly housing.

When it comes to the use of public money then investments and bailouts should primarily be for locally owned companies that commit to key environmental policies, often social and ethical enterprises.

A green recovery and a genuine wellbeing economy has never been more important. But partnerships that break down barriers across sectors is essential to success. Social enterprises must work with public and private sector allies to deliver a genuine green recovery.

It’s true that we're currently living in a post-lockdown economy, with the climate emergency and rising economic inequality as our context. But with bold policy action and cross-sector partnerships we can certainly achieve a win-win for people and planet.

Duncan Thorp is policy and public affairs manager at Social Enterprise Scotland



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Joao Goncalves
almost 4 years ago
Yawn yawn yawn. It is really rather boring that the take away from the pandemic has been that the recovery has to be "green", instead of the fact that the people who saved our arses were some of the lowest paid - carers, delivery drivers, cleaners, supermarket workers. While we are busy virtue-signalling about Scotland's environmental footprint, which is already very small in global terms, people in very important and (at least) physically demanding jobs are being paid a pittance and do not have the luxury of being "eco-friendly and ethical". From what i've seen from the green recovery rhetoric so far, very little is about actual inclusivity even though that word keeps being used. Stop doing consultations in your echo chamber (i can't believe for one second it was difficult to find common ground between SCDI, CRNS, Scottish Environment Link, and one could have discovered their shared values just by looking st their websites' front pages) and start talking to people who will rightfully ask "what's in it for me besides being told i'm uneducated because i can't afford the choices you want me to make?".
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almost 4 years ago
...are disability adjusted cars electric? Does that change how they're run? Have we been consulted on whether that's an important issue for us? Does our disability benefit cover the increased expenditure of running electric cars? Are there charging points in disabled parking? I haven't seen any. I tried cycling to work, but being disabled I'm slow. People are vicious and unsympathetic on cycle lanes during peak times. Just because it's a wide lane doesn't mean it's accessible when the people who use them make them inaccessible. This is why you need to make GR inclusive, instead of saying you are. And if you do get our expertise, pay us like you pay policy makers. We have knowledge you guys don't.I would agree with the above comment that green recovery isn't inclusive.If I had a life where all I worried about was green recovery/environment then I would've led a very good life.
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