People across Scotland have joined an online rally today [Friday 26th June], urging the First Minister to ensure that Scotland’s recovery from Coronavirus puts people and planet before profit.

Participants have shared pictures across social media, holding signs with messages such as ‘We need a recovery plan for people and planet’, ‘Build Back Better’ and ‘No return to business as usual’.

It comes just days after the Scottish Government’s Economic Advisory Group published their report of recommendations for Scotland’s economic recovery. Key workers, community groups, trade unions, faith groups and charities have come together to say that the report doesn’t go far enough to tackle inequality and climate breakdown.

The action was coordinated by Just and Green Recovery Scotland, a campaign backed by over 80 organisations in Scotland, who have called for a radical response to the coronavirus recovery that puts people before profit.

In a letter to the First Minister, the groups said now was the time to move away from the prioritisation of economic growth and towards goals of wellbeing and sustainability.

Katherine Trebeck, Wellbeing Economy Alliance, said:

“The way the economic system was structured in Scotland prior to the Covid-19 crisis was not delivering the goods on so many fronts. It wasn’t lifting enough people out of poverty, it wasn’t delivering enough good lives and it was putting a burden that was more than Scotland’s fair share on the planet. The extent to which we need massive economic system change is huge.
Scotland has an opportunity now to lead the world in truly putting collective wellbeing at the heart of economic policy making and creating an economy that delivers for people and planet first time around.

The Advisory Group’s report earlier this week has parts to praise in that it recognises and embraces the ‘wellbeing economy concept,’ and unfortunately parts that fall short in recognising the type of transformation that could truly transform Scotland into a wellbeing economy. To truly initiate a wellbeing economy, the restructure must be designed to enable people and planet to flourish while being agnostic to economic growth, not dependent on it.”

 

Dr Geraldine Hill, Advocacy Manager at Scottish Catholic International Aid Fund (SCIAF), said:

“While there are a number of ideas contained within the report which we would encourage the Scottish Government to pursue, overall it fails to deal in any significant way with Scotland’s responsibilities on the world stage. Like coronavirus, the climate emergency does not respect national borders. If the pandemic has taught us anything it should be that nobody is safe until we are all safe. Our recovery must be international.

“We strongly believe that the Scottish Government’s response to the pandemic should contribute towards building global resilience to future crises, including the climate emergency. Many of the communities that SCIAF works with are facing mounting threats; coronavirus, the spiral of poverty caused by lockdowns and subsequent recessions, and the ever-present danger of climate change. This is why it is so vital that we see an increase in climate finance, through an expansion to the existing Climate Justice Fund, and a coherent approach between domestic policy and global sustainable development outcomes.”

Caroline Rance, Friends of the Earth Scotland Climate and Energy Campaigner, said:

“The First Minister has spoken of the need for a green recovery which delivers a wellbeing economy but this week’s report fails to chart the path to a greener, fairer Scotland for everyone. There was little in the way of new thinking or concrete measures that will challenge the inequalities, poverty and climate pollution in Scotland.”

“As we plan our economic recovery, we must build back better. The Scottish Government must now lay the foundations for a fairer, greener future, with huge public investment in good, green jobs and a Just Transition to a zero carbon economy. This needs to be underpinned by affordable and accessible public services, a labour market that works for the people within it and everyone having an income that meets their basic needs.

Liam McCabe, NUS Scotland President, commented:

“As we come out of this global pandemic, rebuilding our economy into a newer, greener form is our only option to avoid climate catastrophe. The pandemic has shown just how quickly change can take place when there is an immediate threat to society and our collective wellbeing. Given that current climate trends pose a similar threat, similar effort must now be exerted to tackle it.

“Fundamentally, we must choose to accelerate the transition to a successful and low-carbon society, improve our climate resilience, educate our students and young people and promote greener jobs which will bring new opportunities to students, graduates and all of society.”

 

See images from the online action by searching #BuildBackBetterScot