Recommendations from COP26
Blog by Sam Cox, Policy Officer, People, Strategy, and Corporate Services Division.
In my last blog post, I walked you through the themes and discussions that took place at our round table at COP26, and how we were planning to take this work forward.
Since then, we’ve had further discussions with round table attendees and relevant digital and climate change experts about the top ideas that came out of each round table theme. After these discussions concluded, each of the top ideas was thoroughly investigated and then presented as recommendations to Kate Forbes, Cabinet Secretary for Finance and the Economy and Michael Matheson, Cabinet Secretary for Net Zero, Energy and Transport. These recommendations that are detailed below, were all accepted by both Cabinet Secretaries.
Our recommendations were:
- Scotland has the potential to be a leader in climate technology, with benefits to the Scottish economy, in addition to meeting net zero commitments;
- Whether Scotland requires a dedicated minister for digital; and
- Data is a valuable asset but issues remain with how it is used.
- The roundtable supported the findings of recent reports such as PwC’s UK Net Zero Future50 and the Glasgow Breakthrough Agenda which highlight Scotland’s potential to be a leader in climate tech, with benefits to the Scottish economy, in addition to meeting net zero commitments.
- The roundtable was unanimous in agreeing that in order to achieve this, businesses needed the time and space to test, trial, pilot and implement climate tech; and that there was a role for government as an enabler of this to ensure that the emerging climate tech sector was at the forefront of climate change solutions.
- Whilst the Digital Strategy, the STEM Technology Ecosystem Review, and the National Strategy for Economic Transformation all have a focus on supporting the digital technology sector as part of wider economic growth, our post-roundtable analysis suggested that there no specific focus on, or ownership of, climate tech so there is no locus to drive this forward.
- This led us to having discussions with the Directorate for Economic Development who confirmed that policy ownership of climate tech sits with them. However, in light of the resource spending review, this may not be a priority.
Dedicated Digital Minister
- The round table was unanimous in recommending that Scotland needs a dedicated Minister for Digital to ensure that digital and climate change, alongside broader digital transformation, are a priority to embed sustainability into SG’s core priorities.
- However, in 2021, the digital portfolio was consolidated under Ms Forbes in her role as Cabinet Secretary for Finance and the Economy, and she is supported in this role by a variety of Ministers.
- Therefore, SG effectively has a Minister for Digital in all but name who has consistently focused on Scotland’s goal of a just transition to net zero by 2045.
- Improving on data standards, gaps and lack of common vocabulary
- SG is developing the Data Transformation Framework to support organisations in understanding how to improve and realise more value from their data. More info here: Developing a Data Transformation Framework
- In CivTech 6.0 there was a challenge that ran to support data gaps. Its goal was to help users find data using simple search terms, without needing to know the specific name of the data, who owns it or where it might be published.
- Improving access, interoperability, and telling the stories behind the data
- The accessibility and interoperability of data are also tied into the improvement of data standards. Improving data standards will also shape how the stories behind data are told.
- To shape these improvements, the 2021-2025 Open Government Action Plan (OGAP) has been developed, with one of its focuses being making data easier to access.
- OGAP is comprised of five commitments, one of which is a data commitment which includes a series of activities to improve the accessibility of date.
- Under OGAP, there is a desire to better understand the use cases where improving access to climate change data has added value to organisations and storytelling.
- Establishing a baseline for environmental data
- The roundtable was unanimous in agreeing that a baseline for environmental data needs to be established alongside improving the standards of available data.
- This baseline is being established in part by the Data Transformation Framework and is being supported by the improvement of data standards.
- The Data Division in the Digital Directorate is currently running a data maturity cohort programme and a second cohort will be running in Autumn 2022. If you are in the public sector and would like more information about becoming a participant in the next cohort, please email: firstname.lastname@example.org
- This baseline will also feed into the improvement of data gaps and accessibility.
We are continuing to monitor the ongoing work on these recommendations as they are contributing to our Digital Strategy ambition of incorporating green thinking into all of our digital solutions and these findings will be kept in mind for future iterations of the Digital Strategy.