Christie Frail, Business Development and Policy Support, Forth Valley Chamber of Commerce
Scotland’s International Environment Centre is a collaborative venture, working with partners across the Stirling and Clackmannanshire region to drive a genuinely inclusive transition to Net Zero. As the Centre is officially launched, Christie Frail overviews how SIEC is already working towards that goal.
What an exciting time for those of us living, working and visiting the Forth Valley region. Right here in the heart of our region, there is a incredible collaboration at Scotland’s International Environment Centre (SIEC), led by the University of Stirling, to create an ‘innovation community’ that will power our journey to become the first Scottish Net Zero Regional Economy, and place the Forth Valley on a global map as an exemplar of low-carbon growth. A real powerhouse for change!
Established as part of the Stirling and Clackmannanshire City Region Deal (£17 million from the Scottish Government and £5 million from the UK Government), SIEC launched on 11th November, and will be headquartered at Forth Valley College in Alloa. SIEC is far more than just an Environment Centre. And it goes far beyond the stereotype of one too…
The Centre isn’t a traditional building investment, it’s a programme of climate focussed action, which will bring many things worth celebrating to the community and its people, including further investment in the local area, the creation of jobs (roughly 125 new regional jobs), support 200 start-ups, development of new cross-sector partnerships, delivering a skills portfolio supporting 8669 individuals, improving lives and wellbeing by creating a cleaner, greener economy and supporting livelihoods and natural resources.
And for most of us, many of these concepts seem far removed from our lives and our futures. But they are a lot closer to home…in fact, they are just down the road.
We are all aware of the issue of climate change, but are we really engaged? Are we that motivated to make change? Or are we just leaving the issue to someone else? And if your answer to those questions were NO, NO and YES, then it is even more vital that you, over your counterparts, read on. You are the demographic that SIEC needs.
For any real change to be made, we must all be on board. We must welcome the Environment Centre with open arms; let it embrace our communities and our people.
SIEC in action
The Forth Environmental Resilience Array (Forth ERA) – imagine seeing real time environmental data of our region, which supports our decisions and understanding. This flagship multi-million-pound investment will provide the region with a world-leading green recovery platform, turning the Firth of Forth into a living laboratory. This design will develop innovative digital solutions, sensor technologies, satellite data, artificial intelligence and a state-of-the-art monitoring system.
Four our communities this will build resilience, engage people of all ages with real-time climate data, inform local and regional decision making, increase the sustainability of our businesses and put Alloa, where the first phase HQ will be based, on the map as a powerhouse of change.
Scotland’s Hydro Nation Chair – the University of Stirling’s Professor Andrew Tyler – will be working with Scottish Water to lead the collaborative relationships required to deliver the solutions for sustainable water management in Scotland. Adverse climate impacts can already be seen in Scotland through water, as droughts are becoming more common, as is intense rainfall leading to flooding. But water also holds some of the answers to our problems.
By managing water, we can bolster our resilience to extreme events, restore biodiversity and increase our carbon storage – speeding up our journey to achieving Net Zero. The Hydro Nation Chair and Scottish Water will work across Scotland to eliminate emissions from infrastructure development and wastewater processing, promote the natural environment and improve the productivity of processes. All these actions will contribute to a greener, more circular economy. A better place to work, live and invest.
ForestLAB is a new research hub created to explore climate-smart, conservation-led solutions for sustainable development in Central Africa. Launched by the University of Stirling in collaboration with the Grantham Research Institute on Climate Change and the Environment and the African Conservation Development Group, launched in October under the SIEC umbrella. This research will provide policymakers, investors and development practitioners with the data and tools required to create world-class models of natural ecosystems that are socially, environmentally and economically sustainable.
Just down the road from your home, there are initiatives underway that will benefit people living over 7,000 miles away; something worth telling your neighbours.
The SIEC is also developing new opportunities for local entrepreneurs to develop new, green and clean business ideas building on Stirling’s flagship Enterprise Programme. There are a multitude of aspects to this, some that you might yourself benefit from. For more information regarding this, please visit: Innovation and Enterprise | Research | University of Stirling
For a braver, greener world, we need to collaborate! We will only find solutions by working together. Whether you’re a climate expert, or not…the SIEC has something worth supporting. I urge you, people of the Forth Valley Region, help us be the change our future depends on.