Policy Work

Climate Literacy – Working with a wide range of business fora and public bodies we are producing a new qualification aimed at middle to senior business and public managers to better inform them about climate and its solutions and to encourage them to play a part in delivering against domestic and international targets. The course will lead to a personal accreditation (probably in the form of letters after their name), a business accreditation, and the creation of a network of qualified individuals across the sectors. It will also be able to form part of a further formal qualification eg. Postgrad Diploma or MBA.  It is being led by RSGS and University of Stirling, with the University of Edinburgh and ECCI and many other partners. We also hope the first (on-line) part of the course could be available to school children and could also be designed to meet a formal SQA standard.

Arctic Strategy – We are working with Scottish Government to inform and guide the development of a strategy to promote and expand Scotland’s economic, cultural and scientific contribution to the Arctic and its connections with Arctic nations and communities. We are producing a The Geographer magazine on Arctic Issues this winter and a Young Geographer magazine on the arctic, which will give a voice to young people from across the arctic and relevant communities, in the spring of 2019.

Vacant & Derelict Land – We are part of an ambitious task force targeted with re-imagining the use and improvement of the 12,000ha of derelict and vacant land that currently exists in Scotland.

Geography in Schools – We are concerned with the narrowness of subject choice currently available to pupils in Scottish schools, especially within the 4th year of secondary education (Nat4 and Nat5s). We also share a wider concern about the relative futility of the 3rd year of BGE. We are in discussion with Scottish Government and its agencies to try to address these concerns, and also promoting the critical value of specialist teaching, as well as flying a flag for the value of good geographical knowledge. Along with direct policy work we are also involved in developing A Horrible Geography for Scotland and other resources for classroom use.

Land Use & Nature Conservation – We are engaged in various groups and discussions about land use, re-wilding and other aspects of nature conservation, through both our Chair (Prof Roger Crofts) and CEO. We have produced several magazines on related issues: National Parks (Spring 2012), Forestry (Autumn 2013), Rewilding (Winter 2014), Hydro nation (Spring 2016), Green Infrastructure (Autumn 2016) and Nature Conservation (Autumn 2017). Our Treasurer is on the Board of Scottish Environment Link, of which our CEO is an honorary fellow. Our CEO also sat on the Scottish advisory board for Rewilding Britain. We convened a land reform round table with a variety of academic and representative bodies, working closely with the SCRR, University of Dundee and UHI, in early 2016 to consider approaches to reform.

Employability of Geographers – through our network, contacts and case studies we work to reinforce the employment skills of young geographers, and remind students of the many career possibilities available through pursuing a geographical education.  See our publication World of Opportunity for further information.

Travel and Transport – A critical geographical concern and one of the hardest areas of climate and behaviour change to address, we participate in a number of groups related to transport. We have a seat on the cross party group on active and bus travel, and our CEO has a seat on the Scotrail Stakeholder Advisory Group, on the board of Sustrans and on the Scottish Government’s Air Passenger Duty Forum; he is also a champion for active travel and cycling infrastructure in Perth & Kinross. We produced The Geographer magazines on the topic of transport in Spring 2010 and on rail in Summer 2017.

Health Inequalities – Further to our The Geographer magazine special on Health Inequalities (Summer 2016), and led by RSGS’s Research & Knowledge Exchange Committee, we have been working with Scottish Government and other agencies to reinforce the geographical aspects of health inequalities and look at how we can better promote existing university research in this arena, and help target future research to support the work of the NHS and Government health bodies.

Climate Solutions – Between 2014-16 we ran a project looking at the ways Scotland could make the biggest difference to global climate emissions, either through expertise, innovation or example, and building on the 2009 Climate Change (Scotland) Act. Our project entitled ‘Bitesize’ led to a full day conference, run with ECCI and SCDI, involving all sectors of Scottish industry and society, and identified the key areas where future progress should particularly focus. These included Circular economy and low carbon resources (such as low carbon cement), transport (especially active travel, mobility as a service, electric vehicles and rail infrastructure), renewable energy and heat, housing standards, CCS, city design and planning, agricultural emissions (especially nitrogen) and food waste.   It was further identified that these key activities also needed to be underpinned by suitable carbon financing, and importantly a greater understanding amongst senior managers of climate solutions and the relevance to their businesses. Laurent Fabius, previous Prime Minister of France and Chair of the Paris Climate COP gave a key note address to the conference before being awarded the RSGS Shackleton Medal at an event at Edinburgh Castle. The day led to a The Geographer (Winter 2016) themed on Bitesize and timed to feed into the Scottish Government consultation process on the climate change delivery plan.

Circular Economy – During our work with Bitesize climate solutions, one issue of particular relevance to Scottish Industry was that of the circular economy. We have helped promote good examples, including the work of the Ellen MacArthur Foundation, and our CEO has recently been asked to be an ambassador for the circular economy.

Rail Infrastructure – We have been working to raise the profile and concern for investment in rail infrastructure, particularly focusing on the opportunities for Perth to become a national rail hub, and for the need to improve train journey times between Scotland’s cities, most notably between Edinburgh and Dundee and Perth and on to Inverness and Aberdeen. We have convened a number of meetings with interested people and bodies drawn from all over North and east Scotland, along with business bodies such as SCDI and the Chambers of Commerce. We produced our The Geographer magazine on the topic in Summer 2017.

International links – In 2017 we signed an MOU with the Royal Canadian Geographical Society. We work increasingly closely with the RGS-IBG and Outward Bound Oman, and continue to liaise with other international geographical bodies and communities.

Sustainable Food – Further to our The Geographer magazine (Summer 2018) we are working with Nourish Scotland to encourage the adoption of a new Good Food Nation Bill for Scotland, looking at every aspect of food to sustainable growing and genetic diversity to obesity, food poverty and waste.

University Education – We are invited to recommend academics to represent geography in the various research councils, and meet with SFC and others looking at the strategic funding of geographical studies in Scottish universities.