SCOTLAND is a recognised world leader in low carbon and renewable energy technologies but greater investment is needed – particularly private financing – to drive innovation and development.

The Scottish Environment Protection Agency (SEPA) believes collaboration across Scotland’s public, private and third sectors is the key to bridging this gap. In line with its “One Planet Prosperity” regulatory strategy of protecting and improving the environment in ways that will also create social and economic success, SEPA is working with the United Nations to encourage the creation of new public-private funding mechanisms to help Scotland finance its role in tackling some of the world’s biggest sustainability challenges.

SEPA has co-hosted the first in a series of Scottish round table events in collaboration with the UN Environment Programme Finance Initiative (UNEP FI), a global partnership between the United Nations Environment Programme and the financial sector to promote sustainable finance.


The Association of British Insurers (ABI) is also partnering with SEPA to co-host the events, which explore how Scotland can meet the UN’s global Sustainable Development Goals through low carbon and renewable energy investment at national and local levels.

“The scale of environmental challenge is enormous, with a real urgency to act,” said Cath Preston,
Head of Innovation at SEPA. “Scotland can make a vital contribution as an inventor and manufacturer of low carbon innovations – and by delivering local low carbon energy solutions that meet local needs.

“A key pillar of the Scottish Government’s Energy Strategy is linking local generation and use with national scale developments to create vibrant local energy economies that transform rural and urban
communities and Scotland’s energy system.”

SEPA’s “One Planet Prosperity” strategy, she added, is based on the premise that society is currently using the resources of three planets – but we only have one Earth. “Scotland needs to live within its means and supporting low carbon innovation is an important lever in achieving this.”

Businesses, institutions, non-governmental bodies and influential representative bodies are attending the round tables, which focus on the significant low carbon and renewable energy investment opportunities that exist nationally, how to overcome investment challenges – and bridge the finance gap.

The 2018/19 round tables will culminate in a two-day working event in autumn 2019. The aim is to identify and launch initiatives and actions that could ultimately drive billions in investment in low carbon and renewable energy solutions in Scotland.

Topics for discussion include the blend of public, private, philanthropic and community finance and investment needed alongside this to make the most of low carbon and renewable energy opportunities in Scotland and how this can be coordinated and facilitated.

Careen Abb, Programme Lead for the UNEP FI’s Positive Impact Finance initiative, highlighted the
importance of collaboration: “We are making an effort here to bring together governments, businesses
and finance and that’s very much at the heart of what we’re trying to achieve,” she said.

The Positive Impact Finance Initiative invites banks, investors, corporations and governments to co-create impact-based solutions to help achieve the UN’s 17 Sustainable Development Goals.

These were adopted by the UN’s 193 member states at a summit in 2015 and include combating climate change and ending poverty, inequality, and hunger.

Positive Impact Finance is defined as finance that contributes to one or several of the three pillars of
sustainable development: economic, environmental ‘‘ SEPA’s strategy is based on the premise that we are currently using the resources of three planets, but we only have one and social. Alastair Ross, Head of Public Policy for Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland at the Association of British Insurers, said: “The ABI is a founder member of the ClimateWise initiative to provide global leadership in the insurance industry to collaborate on climate risk research and we’re pleased to be able to support SEPA on this initiative, which has produced some interesting ideas and connections.”

Meeting the UN’s Sustainable Development Goals will require an additional $2.5 trillion in private and public financing per year, according to UN estimates in 2017. The first Scottish round table
took place in Edinburgh last week.

The Herald’s Climate for Change initiative supports efforts being made by the Scottish Government with key organisations and campaign partners. Throughout the year we will provide a forum in The Herald newspaper, online at and in Business HQ magazine, covering news and significant developments in this increasingly crucial area.


In association with ...

The Scottish Environment  Protection Agency (SEPA)
A non-departmental public body of the Scottish Government oversees environmental regulation, monitors and reports on the state of the environment, raises awareness of environmental issues, and resolves environmental harms.

Zero Waste Scotland
A publicly-funded organisation working towards a society where resources are valued and nothing is wasted. It attempts to influence and enable change by gathering evidence, supporting positive projects and providing technical advice and training.

Low Carbon Scotland
Organiser of conferences and events aimed at addressing the current carbon reduction position, enabling those leading and driving policies and proposals to share their vision, and highlighting Scotland as the best place in which to invest in low-carbon businesses.

Interested in becoming a Climate for Change partner? Contact Stephen McTaggart on 0141 302 6137.