'Build a fair, green and resilient economy'

| 26th June 2020
Heads of Environment Agency, Natural England, Forestry Commission call for greater government investment in green measures to reboot the economy.

Building a fair, green and resilient economy, with nature and our environment at its heart, is not only desirable but also within our grasp.

The heads of three agencies have joined the rising chorus of calls for a green recovery from the pandemic.

Environment Agency chairwoman Emma Howard Boyd, conservation body Natural England's Tony Juniper (pictured), and Sir William Worsley, who chairs the Forestry Commission have penned a joint op-ed calling for greater government investment in green measures to reboot the economy.

Published on the Green Alliance website, their article said: "Building a fair, green and resilient economy, with nature and our environment at its heart, is not only desirable but also within our grasp.

Birdsong

"This will not only reap immediate rewards and create jobs with a real positive impact, it has the potential to reset our nation for generations to come."

Embracing a green recovery is more than an "environmental issue", the agency heads said, pointing to the Treasury's own review of the economics of biodiversity headed up by Professor Sir Partha Dasgupta which they said showed the economy was a wholly-owned subsidiary of the natural world.

Pandemics are just one peril that comes in the wake of the unsustainable relationship with the environment, they warned.

And many people had personal reasons to see the importance of a healthy natural environment, with lockdown enabling people to appreciate birdsong and green spaces.

Space

"As the economy restarts, it is imperative we don't let this chance for positive change slip away.

"We must not forget that a healthy economy is supported by a healthy population, and that both depend on a healthy environment," the three agency leaders urged.

A green recovery could deliver on multiple aims, with investment in jobs creating a new workforce to build the green projects of the future, and new woodlands and restored peatlands helping the UK adapt to weather extremes.

Improving green spaces could help combat heat and flooding linked to climate change, and tackle social inequalities, in the face of figures that show a much higher proportion of black households have no outdoor space at home than white households.

Legacy

The joint article points to existing plans to tackle the climate and nature crises which could be harnessed, including the 25-year environment plan, targets to cut emissions to net zero by 2050, a new scheme to reward farmers for environmentally-friendly farming and investment in flood defences.

The agency chairs said growing and planting trees, focusing on green jobs and supporting environmental and conservation groups who deliver nature projects such as restoring habitat are areas where the nation could invest.

They acknowledged that "tough choices and turbulent times" were likely to lay ahead and that past experience might suggest environmental issues will get sidelined in the wake of the pandemic.

But they warned: "There is, however, no time for delay. For a thriving economy and society we need thriving nature and a healthy planet.

"We stand ready to do all we can to help, both in delivering a response to this crisis with necessary action now to battle the climate emergency as well leaving a lasting legacy," they wrote.

This Author

Emily Beament is the PA environment correspondent.

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