Pioneering Scottish regeneration partnership ‘could be model for global green recovery’



A Scottish regional regeneration partnership could provide a potential model for global economic recovery, according to a global think tank and strategic advisory firm.

Pioneered by the Scottish Environment Protection Agency (SEPA), the River Leven Programme aims to transform an area once at the centre of Scotland’s industrial revolution, locking in sustainable, inclusive growth.

The programme, the subject of a ‘Sustainable Growth Agreement’ in 2019 between eleven public and private sector partners including SEPA, Scottish Enterprise, Fife Council and global spirits manufacturer Diageo, focuses on six aims to realise a 2030 vision for a “living, breathing example of inclusive growth.” 

Volans, a global authority on innovation and sustainability, has made the programme the first living case study in its ‘Green Swan Observatory’ initiative, propelling the project to the global ‘one to watch’ list for innovative approaches. Volans has so far given Green Swan Awards to ‘Earth Day’ and the multi-award-winning Eden Project in Cornwall.

The Green Swan Observatory spotlights and analyses examples that encapsulate activities needed for a regenerative future, sharing these ‘Green Swan’ innovations that can drive forward positively exponential change with the wider world. Its aim is to accelerate the move from a ’responsibility’ agenda to one of resilience and ultimately regeneration for businesses and other organisations. 

Louise Kjellerup Roper, chief executive of Volans, said: “The ongoing global pandemic has brought into sharp focus the need for structural change in our society and economies. Scotland’s leadership on low-carbon innovation is well known and we’ve been watching the transformation of its environment protection agency for some time. The alignment of environment and economic agencies with private partners to accelerate regeneration in Leven can be a model for Scotland’s green recovery.”

The announcement comes as the Scottish Government’s Economic Advisory Group on Economic Recovery called for “a strong green spine to… recovery” and as five new partners commit to the programme: Network Rail, The Coal Authority, Zero Waste Scotland, Historic Environment Scotland, and Fife Coast & Countryside Trust.

Ross Martin, chair of the River Leven Partnership, said: “This is an exceptionally bold place-based intervention being led by our national environmental regulator into one of Scotland’s regional economies. The partnership recognises that the environment and economy are not competing interests, but two sides of the same coin - the currency of sustainable, inclusive growth.

“The COVID-19 crisis has demonstrated beyond all doubt the importance of reconnecting people and place, and I predict that all other EPAs will follow the Leven lead.”

Terry A’Hearn, chief executive of the Scottish Environment Protection Agency, said: “Now more than ever, the future health, wellbeing and prosperity of our people relies on transformational change in our economy. As Scotland’s environment protection agency, we’re determined to step up.

“The old way that all EPAs around the world have worked is no longer good enough for the challenges our societies face. We’re not waiting for the change; we are going to create it here in Scotland. Our One Planet Prosperity strategy gives us a new powerful partnership with our enterprise agency, private and public partners to drive actions, not words.

“The River Leven Programme is a powerful example of what can be achieved when environment and economy align. This region of Scotland was a cradle of the first industrial revolution. Under this partnership, it can now become a pioneer in the new global low-carbon industrial revolution.

“We’re excited for the local community and our partners and delighted that it is being looked at as an example of what future sustainable, inclusive growth and partnerships will look like in this next revolution. The international recognition as a Green Swan project is a welcome boost for the people of this region.”

Steve Dunlop, chief executive of Scottish Enterprise, added: “The River Leven initiative is the epitome of strategic partnership working which is creating exciting new opportunities to unlock purposeful economic outcomes for regions and communities across Scotland.

“Working in this way with SEPA and other partners is critical to how we will do business in support of a green recovery and being acknowledged by Volans in this way speaks volumes about the power of purposeful partnerships.”



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