New Scottish Environment Minister reaffirms commitment to sustainability

Scotland's new Environment Minister has reaffirmed the Scottish Executive's commitment to sustainable development, and has congratulated local authorities on their commitment to the challenges of the 1992 Rio Earth Summit, offering communities a further £275,000 to achieve sustainability.

Delivering his first speech as Environment Minister, at a conference in Glasgow examining progress since the Rio Summit, Ross Finnie stressed that sustainable development was not an optional extra, but integral to policy development. The new minister also pointed out that the problems that sustainable development policies seek to re-address are shared by all types of communities across Scotland.

Finnie also announced the launch of the new Sustainable Action Grant Scheme, designed to help communities to push forward towards sustainable development. The grant will draw on the existing Sustainable Action Fund, as well as £275,000 of new money, a Scottish Executive spokesman confirmed to edie, which will be available from 1 April. The Executive is seeking applications from local communities wishing to deliver their local authority Agenda 21 strategies, as well as from those with innovative ideas for helping the public to behave sustainably.

The minister set out his definition of sustainable development as being: a means of protecting and enhancing the environment, both for its own sake and for society’s; and the delivery of robust measures to deal with climate change. Finnie also emphasised that Scotland should be placed at the heart of the European and global movement for sustainable development. “It is an agenda for all the people of Scotland – from Unst to Uddingston; the Gorbals to Galashiels,” he said. “And that is why I am excited about my new responsibilities.”

“Climate change is upon us,” said Finnie. “The cause of those changes is the way in which we all conduct our lives – using too much energy; using excessive resources; travelling unsustainably. All that calls for joined up government. No one Minister can handle the complexity of issues and decisions which progress towards Sustainable Scotland requires.”

Finnie, previously Minister for Rural Development, has replaced former Environment Minister, Sam Galbraith, who was forced to step down last week due to ill health. Finnie has retained his former responsibilities, forming a new ministerial post of Environment and Rural Development.

“We have great things in train for the environment. I will champion the environment and sustainable development in the Scottish cabinet,” Finnie added. “I do so because I am committed and passionate about the environment.”

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