The Advisory Group on Economic Recovery (AGER) was established in April 2020 by the Scottish Government. The Group was set up to provide independent, expert advice on Scotland’s economic recovery, once the immediate emergency, created by coronavirus, had subsided. 

Led by Benny Higgins, the Group considered how economic recovery could increase wellbeing, fairness and inclusivity, and build on opportunities to create a greener, net-zero society. 

The Scottish Forum Chair, David Watt, recently wrote to AGER, to share our thoughts on priorities for a green recovery. We believe that it is vital to link economic recovery support for the economy and business post-Covid to conditions that require investment in our natural capital. This is founded on the underlying need to meet the challenges of both the biodiversity and climate change emergencies. Such a holistic, joined-up approach, can ensure that our economic recovery could be a truly "green" one.

We included three specific ‘asks’ in our letter

• All government support for the economy and business post-Covid should be coherent with regard to: a) Scotland’s commitment to reach Net Zero by 2045; b) the First Minister’s statement that protecting and enhancing our stock of natural capital is fundamental to a healthy and resilient economy; and c) Scotland’s ambitions for a wellbeing economy that promotes the wellbeing of people and planet.

• Decisions on financial or other support should be contingent on how applicant businesses are reducing emissions, managing land (where relevant), selecting suppliers, managing waste, and raising awareness of nature and climate change among employees and customers. Applicants from all sectors should be provided with information about the business benefits of managing environmental impacts proactively.

• Scotland should take the opportunity to become a leader in conservation finance, as outlined in the ‘Route Map to £1 Billion’, which was produced with input from the Scottish Forum’s Innovative Finance Sub-Group.

Read our full letter here

Once their short window asking for views had closed, the AGER recommendations were published at the end of June 2020. We were delighted by the prominence of natural capital in the report, in particular the recognition that nature-based investments developed by the Scottish Government and Financial services should protect and enhance Scotland’s natural capital.

We were also encouraged by the focus on a Four Capitals approach, with the report stating their analysis would seek to treat each pillar as "equally important." This was underlined in the reports conclusion, "We therefore recommend that the Scottish Government considers using the Four Capitals approach in forming its economic strategy, both in the recovery phase and for the longer term."
And elsewhere, it was fantastic to see recognition for Scotland's natural assets, as key to Scotland's identity and an area of significant "comparative advantage" for the country.

The Scottish Government response to the AGER report is anticipated at the end of July, and we hope will build on the strong focus on natural capital in the AGER recommendations.​

Read the full AGER Report here