Guest Blog: Charity CEO Reflections in Scotland During Week 6 of Lockdown

This guest blog is brought to you by Julie Hutchison from Aberdeen Standard Capital who summarises the key themes which emerged during ACOSVO's Week 6 CEO Check-In During COVID-19.

 

ACOSVO has been hosting weekly CEO zoom calls since the Covid-19 crisis took hold.  I joined the zoom call with around 30 CEOs in week 6 of lockdown.  This blog summarises the key themes which emerged with weblinks for follow-up.

 

Fresh air and exercise are part of the national conversation

 

This week’s call focused on future themes which are starting to emerge.

One participant noted that it took Covid-19 to make us realise how much we value our right to be active and to be outside.  Will the pandemic make us re-evaluate our relationship with the outdoors?  With fewer vehicles on the roads, many people have commented on air quality.  The link between the quality of our environment and the quality of our health has perhaps never been clearer.  Allocating more space for walking and cycling during times of social distancing is now firmly on the policy agenda, accelerating positive change for active travel many had long hoped for.  Indeed, as I type, funding has been announced today by the Scottish Government for just this purpose. 

 

The need for wellbeing to become embedded as an employer responsibility was mentioned.  There was some concern about corporate interests which could influence a reversion to a less wellbeing-centred approach in future.  I take a more hopeful outlook, based in part on the role I see for large investors to influence companies on these themes.  This article by ShareAction looks at the role of supermarkets, offering a view on actions they could take to improve our future public health resilience.  https://shareaction.org/supermarkets-can-help-limit-the-next-pandemic-investors-need-to-hold-them-to-account/

 

Shaping the future

Discussions on the call looked at a broad range of policy areas which are all affected by inequalities in some way.  It is an interesting question to consider how these policy areas interact with the Scottish Government’s “Covid-19 – A Framework for Decision Making.” *1 This discussion document not only sets out the approach to how future decisions will be made in Scotland about relaxing or tightening the current restrictions, it also looks ahead to the medium term adjustment phase, as we change how we live to co-exist with Covid-19 for some time to come.  Some observations:

  • The role of volunteers is acknowledged. The document says: “Our voluntary sector has provided much needed support.”  How can volunteering and grassroots community action be best supported?

 

  • It strikes me that the work of the Just Transition Commission must surely have relevance in the adjustment phase and beyond.  In re-building the economy after the current shock, there could be a win-win opportunity to further deliver the de-carbonisation goals of a net zero economy by 2045 (or earlier) while supporting new employment.  A just transition includes the creation of decent work which helps address inequality and poverty.  https://www.gov.scot/groups/just-transition-commission/

 

  • Another participant on the call made the point that the UN Sustainable Development Goals are relevant in this context. 

 

  • On 17th April, the Scottish Government announced the creation of an independent advisory group to guide the economic response to Covid-19.  That announcement made explicit reference to “rebuilding a resilient economy in a way that supports Scotland’s wellbeing and transition toward a greener, net zero country.” *2

 

Now is the time to join these policy dots.  There are mechanisms for any interested party to contribute to the dialogue underway.  Scotland’s charities should take this opportunity to shape the debate and contribute their valuable insight to it.

*1 https://www.gov.scot/publications/coronavirus-covid-19-framework-decision-making/

*2 https://www.gov.scot/news/advisory-group-on-economic-recovery/

 

Aberdeen Standard Capital is a corporate partner of ACOSVO