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Experts to unite in Aberdeen to tackle Scotland’s biodiversity crisis

By Alan Beresford

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ROBERT Gordon University (RGU) is taking action against Scotland’s biodiversity decline by hosting an event with key sector figures.

The Riverside Building, home of RGU's Law School.
The Riverside Building, home of RGU's Law School.

The event, set to be held next month, aims to show how Scotland’s natural capital can be protected and restored and environmental loss halted.

The one-day conference will host a panel of experts and an engaged audience to discuss policy progress and governance, including Scottish Government’s recently updated Biodiversity Strategy to 2045 which sets out the nation’s plans and governance for restoring and regenerating Scotland’s biodiversity across land and sea, with the help of thriving and sustainable communities.

Scotland’s natural capital has declined by over 15 per cent since 1950 and a recent RSPB report has exposed it as one of the most nature-depleted nations in the world. It also demonstrates a worrying trend in suffering wildlife with a 49 per cent decline in Scottish seabirds across 11 species; a decline in the distribution of flowering plants; and 11 per cent of overall species threatened with national extinction.

The event has been organised by the RGU Law School, led by Nicholas Maulet, SFHEA, and lecturer in energy law and policy.

He said: “Following the UN’s COP15 on biodiversity, and Scotland’s recently renewed policy ambition, this conference is very timely for RGU to contribute towards the north-east’s community’s awareness of biodiversity decline and understanding of the nation’s official approach to manage and restore Scotland’s natural environment and stop its natural capital’s decline.

“As a university, sustainability is at the heart of everything that we aim to achieve and hosting this builds on our own growing ambition to widen access and conversation as well as contribute towards global challenges, underpinned by the United Nations’ Sustainable Development Goals.

“The event also promotes the role of Scottish higher education in fostering an increased understanding of Scotland’s relationship with nature in the north-east and the positive, proactive action that can be taken to secure the future of Scotland’s outstanding nature.”

As well as RGU’s Nicolas Maulet acting as conference convener, the keynote speakers include: Professor Roger Crofts CBE, FRSE – former Chair of Royal Scottish Geographical Society, founding CEO of Scottish Natural Heritage and UK expert in governance and environmental issues; Professor Colin Reid – Emeritus Professor of Environmental Law, School of Humanities, Social Sciences and Law, University of Dundee, and a UK expert on biodiversity and governance; Dr Kerry Waylen – James Hutton Institute, UK researcher in environmental policy and governance; Dr Nigel Dower – Chair of Aberdeen Branch of the United Nations’ Association Scotland, who will speak on environmental ethics; Mr Tim Ellis – Deputy Director, Future Environment Division, Scottish Government.

Sustainability has increasingly been embedded throughout curriculum in each academic school at RGU, alongside positive initiatives across campus, emphasising the university’s commitment in its journey to net zero.

Further complimenting this and the strive to meet the UN’s Sustainable Development Goals, the Law School has also recently launched a brand-new course focusing on environmental law. RGU’s MSC in International Environmental Law will cover legal, policy and regulatory challenges of the environment, including climate change, energy transition and renewable energy, and is open to applications ahead of January 2024’s academic start.

Governing Natural Capital and Biodiversity for Scotland Conference 2023 is on Friday, November 3 at RGU’s Ishbel Gordon Building, from 8.45am to 5.45pm.

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