Sea Scotland – driving innovative policy and planning for Scotland’s seas
Having set sail in 2016, the Sea Scotland conference series has created a much needed space for professionals, academics and interested stakeholders to share knowledge, discuss emerging science, legislation and policy, and spark innovative collaborations to drive forward progressive marine policy and management for Scotland’s seas.
A focus on addressing current challenges for Scotland’s seas
Each year the conference has been an opportunity for delegates to consider current policy developments and the implications on Scotland’s seas. The inaugural 2016 conference, hosted at Discovery Point in Dundee, encouraged delegates to delve into the practicalities of marine spatial planning in Scotland following the publication of the National Marine Plan in 2015 and plans for developing regional marine plans across Scotland. In 2017, recognising the uncertainty around the management of marine resources following the UK’s vote to leave the EU, Sea Scotland invited delegates to consider the impacts, opportunities and challenges for marine policy, and explore mechanisms to support progress towards sustainability at a time of uncertainty. Following on from these two successful conferences, Sea Scotland 2018 focused on the involvement of communities in marine decision making and provided a platform for youth views on Scotland’s seas.
A space to meet, think & collaborate
Each year the conference draws a broad range of delegates from across Scotland, including marine planning professionals, policy and decision makers, academics, marine industry representatives, community representatives, environmental NGOs and other interested stakeholders to explore collaborative solutions to the challenges facing Scotland’s seas. Invited speakers have included Jack Dudgeon, Vice Chair and Member of the Scottish Youth Parliament; Charles Ehler, an original marine planner with experience from across the globe; Roseanna Cunningham, Cabinet Secretary for the Environment, Climate Change and Land Reform; Jeff Ardron from the Commonwealth Secretariat; Alastair McIntosh, at the forefront of Scottish land reform through his work with the Isle of Eigg community; Colin Moffatt from Marine Scotland; and Mark Tasker from the International Council for the Exploration of the Sea.
Interactive sessions, networking opportunities and outdoor sessions have encouraged collaborations between delegates over the years. Dedicated workshops have allowed in-depth focus on topics such as the National Coastal Change Assessment, the implications of leaving the European Union on marine sectors, the devolution of the Crown Estate and approaches to constructive dialogue in stakeholder engagement.
Providing a platform for youth views
In 2018, the Sea Scotland conference actively encouraged youth participation in the conference to support their involvement in marine decision making as the future ‘custodians’ of Scotland’s seas. Young people (11-26) from across Scotland were invited to share their views on Scotland’s seas in a youth survey developed in collaboration with the Young Scot Communic18 team. The results were shared by Jack Dudgeon of SYP at the conference. The Steering Group intend to continue this initiative. A complimentary youth delegate rate with a discretionary expenses fund was also offered to encourage youth attendance.
The Sea Scotland conferences have been well-received by delegates and are valued for their contribution to developing progressive marine policy and planning. The conference series also received cross-party support from the Scottish Parliament in the form of a Parliamentary Motion in 2018 in recognition of the contribution the conference makes to Scotland’s marine community and developing policy.
Sea Scotland is a partner-driven initiative involving Scottish Environment LINK members, Scottish Natural Heritage (SNH), Ocean Dialogues Ltd., and the universities of Aberdeen and Edinburgh, with support from the Marine Alliance for Science and Technology Scotland (MASTS) and the University of Dundee. The steering group also maintain open dialogue with the Scottish Government and a range of external stakeholders to ensure that the Sea Scotland programme is able to address the most pressing issues facing Scotland’s seas. As part of the Year of Young People 2018, the Sea Scotland steering group worked closely with Young Scot to develop a youth survey on Scotland’s seas, and ensure the conference provided a platform for youth views.
Plans for Sea Scotland 2019 are currently underway and further updates will be made available soon, so watch this space! Interested to know more, get involved or sponsor Sea Scotland 2019? Get in touch here, follow us on Twitter (@seascotland) or sign up to our mailing list.