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31st May 2020
80 civic society organisations from across different sectors of Scottish life have written to the First Minister today calling for a radical response to the coronavirus recovery that puts people before profit. The letter is the most broad-ranging approach to the First Minster on the coronavirus recovery so far and includes detailed policy recommendations.
The groups work across health and inequality, climate and environment, international development, food and housing. In the letter they highlight how the double crises of coronavirus and climate change are exposing and worsening deeply damaging inequalities within society, and are calling on the First Minister to ensure the recovery builds a fairer society for all.
The coronavirus response has included incredible displays of community solidarity, financial support to protect vulnerable people and for many, a chance to evaluate what is really important in their lives. A return to pre-virus ‘business as usual’ is both unrealistic and unwanted. The signatories from charities, trade unions, churches and community groups set out five steps for the forthcoming recovery plan and economic stimulus that will enable the building of a fairer, greener and more equal society.
They call on the Scottish Government to:
• Provide essential public services for people, not profit.
• Protect marginalised people and those on low incomes by redistributing wealth.
• Provide new funds to transform our society and economy to meet Scotland’s Fair Share of climate emissions cuts and greatly enhance biodiversity.
• Strengthen democracy and human rights during these crises.
• Offer solidarity across borders by proactively supporting an international response to Coronavirus and climate emergency
Peter Kelly, Director of Poverty Alliance said,
“Since the start of this crisis, we have seen the strength of compassion and solidarity at the heart of our communities. But we have also seen that our economy is failing to live up to these values. Our social security system and labour market have failed to protect too many of us from the grip of poverty: particularly women, disabled people and people from black and minority ethnic communities. Even before Covid-19 arrived, one in five people in Scotland was living in poverty.
“As we plan our economic recovery, we must build back better. We must design a more just taxation system, provide affordable and accessible public services, build a labour market that works for everyone, and ensure that everyone has an income that meets their needs.”
Lilian Macer, Convenor, UNISON Scotland commented,
“Public services and the workers in them have demonstrated their value during this crisis. Health and care workers, cleaners and domestics, shop workers, posties and transport workers. All have stepped up to the plate. All are low paid. In the recovery phase we must ensure that the services they provide are protected for the future and that they are rewarded better for the jobs they do all of the time and not just in a crisis. The future must provide justice for these workers”
Caroline Rance, Climate and Eneergy Campaigner, Friends of the Earth Scotland commented,
“As we recover from coronavirus, we have a chance to transform our society and economy in a way that puts people and the planet first. The Scottish Government’s recovery plan must lay the foundations for a fairer, greener future. We need huge public investment in good, green jobs and a Just Transition to a zero carbon economy. By ensuring that Scotland does its fair share of international climate action we can help mitigate the devastation of unchecked climate breakdown.”
Zarina Ahmad, Council of Ethnic Minority Voluntary Organisation (CEMVO) Climate Change & Environment Officer commented,
“At the heart of Scottish Government’s Recovery Plan there must be social and climate justice ensuring the existing inequalities in society are tackled, with vulnerable and marginalised people in Scotland being protected, valued and part of an inclusive society. Furthermore, International solidarity is paramount to tackling inequalities with an international coronavirus and climate emergency response being recognised and supported.”
Anna Brown, Scottish Youth Climate Strike
“If the coronavirus pandemic has proven anything, it is that humanity is capable of rising to the occasion during a crisis. It is of extreme importance that we learn this lesson as we move forwards to face a far greater challenge: the ongoing climate emergency.
“There is opportunity for a green recovery which takes into account the urgent need for both climate action and justice for all. By listening to the voices of the youth and by educating people on the need for climate action, we can take this chance for change. It is our future we are fighting for and we need you to take this as an opportunity to become a fairer, greener country. Now is the time!”
The group has requested a meeting with the First Minister to discuss how Scotland can realise a truly just and green recovery.
Notes to Editors
1. The letter to the First Minister Nicola Sturgeon was published in today’s (31/5/20) Sunday National and is available to download at https://foe.scot/resource/just-green-recovery-letter-first-minister/
2. Information about quoted organisations:
The Poverty Alliance is Scotland’s network of activists, NGOs, community organisations, unions and academics working together to end poverty in Scotland. www.povertyalliance.org/
UNISON is Britain’s and Europe’s biggest public sector union with more than 1.3 million members – around 150,000 of those in Scotland. www.unison-scotland.org
CEMVO Scotland is a national intermediary organisation and strategic partner of the Scottish Government Equality Unit with a network of over 600 EM voluntary sector organisations throughout Scotland. Our aim is to build the capacity and sustainability of the ethnic minority (EM) voluntary sector and its communities.
CEMVO manages and facilitates the only ethnic minority environmental network across Scotland empowering and creating a platform for underrepresented diverse voices. www.cemvoscotland.org.uk
Friends of the Earth Scotland is:
* Scotland’s leading environmental campaigning organisation
* An independent Scottish charity with a network of thousands of supporters and active local groups across Scotland
* Part of the largest grassroots environmental network in the world, uniting over 2 million supporters, 75 national member groups, and 5,000 local activist groups.
Scottish Youth Climate Strike is an organisation made up of young people who have been organising large scale protests across the country to demand action on the climate crisis. https://climatestrike.scot
Full list of organisations signing the letter:
Aberdeen Climate Action
Children in Scotland
Church of Scotland
Climate Camp Scotland
Cloudberry Communities CIC
Communication Workers Union (CWU)
Community Energy Scotland
Creative Carbon Scotland
Don’t Bank on the Bomb Scotland
East Linton Melting Pot
Edinburgh and Lothians Regional Equality Council
Educational Institute of Scotland
Ethnic Minority Environmental Network
Extinction Rebellion Aberdeen
Extinction Rebellion Scotland
Food for Good coalition
Friends of the Earth Scotland
Get Glasgow Moving
Glasgow Calls Out Polluters
Glasgow Mutual Aid
Global Justice Now
Green New Deal UK
Hebridean Whale and Dolphin Trust
Highland Cycle Campaign
Jimmy Reid Foundation
Nurses United UK
People and Planet Society Edinburgh
People’s Health Movement Scotland
Prospect James Hutton Institute Branch
Protect Our Winters UK
Quakers in Scotland
Revive: the coalition for grouse moor reform
Royal Scottish Geographical Society
Scottish Catholic International Aid Foundation
Scotland’s International Development Alliance
Scottish Campaign for Nuclear Disarmament
Scottish Communities Climate Action Network
Scottish Community Alliance
Scottish Community Development Centre
Scottish Episcopal Church
Scottish Left Review
Scottish Raptor Study Group
Social Value UK
Scottish Youth Climate Strike
Tax Justice UK
Transition Black Isle
Tripod: Training for Creative Social Action
Universities and Colleges Union
Water Witness International
We Own It
Wellbeing Economy Alliance Scotland
Whale and Dolphin Conservation
Young Friends of the Earth Scotland