We want to explore alternative ideas for a green economic recovery in Scotland. We are bringing together a diverse group of co-visionaries across areas of ‘sustainable work’, ‘sustainable industry’ and ‘sustainable environment’ to speculate on the possibilities open to Scottish society.
We will use ‘futures thinking’ activities to explore perspectives beyond immediate constraints, and rapidly produce a series of creative provocations that help citizens and professionals reflect on realistic but optimistic future visions of a green economic recovery.
The idea of a green economic recovery has been talked about by people from Nicola Sturgeon and Boris Johnson, to Nobel laureates and Nesta's own team of researchers. The shared ambitions of leaders and thinkers is also backed by public support with a recent opinion poll showing that the majority of UK public back 2030 zero-carbon targets.
However, there is less alignment when it comes to what a green economic recovery might look like in practice; how we might get there or how we measure what it is we want to achieve.
Different agendas are trying to navigate using different way-points to set their course, whether:
- Economic growth;
- Good work and secure jobs;
- Sustainable health care;
- Nature-based solutions;
- Carbon offsetting;
- Fairer society; or
- Just Transition.
And then there is the tension between acting in the local interest, or acting more nationally or globally.
As a society, we are all travelling together towards our collective future; a future economy built on future jobs, reliant on and supporting a future environment. But for the most part, industries and sectors are not working in unison.
The challenges we face from the changing nature of work, automation, productivity-lag as well as our long-term environmental sustainability were all with us before COVID, but are more pertinent now than ever. As we come out of this crisis, there is a unique opportunity to make decisions about what society we want to live in. And those decisions will set the trajectory for the next 5–10 years.
We are at an opportune moment as we begin to emerge from the COVID-19 crisis to write alternative narratives for a future we want to move towards – the create shared visions of preferable futures.
The power of having a shared vision is in being able to work together even if there are different goals or ambitions along the way.
The question we are asking is: can positive visions of a green economic recovery help us to set our course towards one?
We will examine areas relevant to green economic recovery such as:
- Cities – how could our buildings, infrastructure and habits look radically different?
- Jobs – working culture and jobs of the future.
- Industry – emerging markets.
- Transport – EVs and beyond.
- Rural living – recognising the need for any economic visions for Scotland's future to address the future of towns and our rural communities.
- Natural environment – can our environment and wildlife be central to economic recovery, not marginalised by it.
- Just transition – net-zero economy that is fair for all.
The provocations which we create from these explorations may include illustrations, data-visualisations or written essays will be used to help citizens and professionals reflect on realistic but optimistic future visions of a green economic recovery. The outputs of the project will be published at the end of September 2020.
For more information, contact: [email protected].