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Funding Call: SEFARI Fellowship with the Scottish Government on Supporting the Development of the Biodiversity Investment Plan

Funding Call: SEFARI Fellowship with the Scottish Government on Supporting the Development of the Biodiversity Investment Plan

SEFARI Gateway is delighted to provide support for a new Fellowship with the Scottish Government on the estimated costs for delivering key Scottish Biodiversity Strategy activities.

 

Background

Scottish Biodiversity Strategy

In 2023 the Scottish Government published a draft Scottish Biodiversity Strategy (SBS) which sets out a vision, outcomes, and priority actions to help Scotland accelerate and scale up land and sea-scape scale recovery to become a nature positive country by 2030 with substantially restored biodiversity by 2045. To help deliver the Strategy, the Scottish Government is putting in place a ‘Delivery and Accountability Framework’ which will  include an Investment Plan. This investment plan will sit alongside delivery plans, statutory targets, and a monitoring framework. In parallel with the development of the SBS, the Natural Environment Bill will put in place legislative changes to restore and protect nature, including legally binding nature recovery targets.

The development of the Scottish Biodiversity Strategy Delivery Plan incorporated a logic modelling approach, which involved working with a group of external experts (the Programme Advisory Group), to facilitate identification of interlinked delivery plan outcomes, outputs and actions. This resulted in the identification of an extensive set of SMART actions across a series of logic models which were subsequently mapped against key policies (i.e. delivery mechanisms) and assessed for their potential impact on addressing biodiversity loss. These logic models and the related outcomes and actions (and related supplementary information) form a key source of underlying information for this fellowship.

Investing in Nature

The Scottish Government has made long-term commitments to invest in nature restoration, including £250m over 2020-2030 for peatland restoration, the £65m Nature Restoration Fund, and an additional £100m for new woodland creation until 2025/26. In addition, the Future Agricultural Support Framework for Scotland incorporates a range of measures targeted at restoring and enhancing nature and/or indirectly impacting on biodiversity through other environmental improvements. Despite these significant public investments, a 2021 report, from the Green Finance Institute, estimated the finance gap for nature in Scotland to be at £20bn over this decade. Biodiversity protection/enhancement (£8 billion) and climate change mitigation through bio-carbon (£9 billion) show the biggest estimated gaps. These figures provide an indication that we need to scale up investment in nature from a variety of sources and become smarter and more effective in how we allocate public finance and stimulate private investment.

The Biodiversity Investment Plan will set out an assessment of the investment required to deliver a nature positive future and the actions needed to mobilise public, private, and philanthropic finance. The findings of this research will help inform and design high-integrity environmental markets that drive private investment and nature recovery through leveraging public expenditure and securing large-scale private investment in nature and biodiversity, as recommended by the Financing UK Nature Recovery Coalition.

The SBS states that the Biodiversity Investment Plan will:

  • Provide a coherent overview of the range of known public and private (charitable, philanthropic, investment) funding sources for biodiversity restoration.
  • Identify funding gaps, and the potential new and existing funding sources to address these gaps.
  • Align with the National Strategy for Economic Transformation public sector partnership programme for responsible private investment in natural capital to develop a market for responsible private investment in biodiversity restoration.
  • Drive efficiency in the use of public funds, reducing overlap, and encouraging partnership in the development of projects designed to deliver transformative change on a landscape scale.
  • Scotland will align with the highest global standards, such as the UN Principles for Responsible Investment and use transparent metrics that inspire investor confidence and engender trust from all stakeholders. Crucial to this approach is the ability to access ‘investment grade’ data which demonstrate the outcomes promised by investment. Our membership of the Taskforce for Nature-related Financial Disclosures will help us inform and learn from international best practice.

As set out in the Interim Principles for Responsible Investment in Natural Capital, the aim is to develop high-integrity and a values-led market that also deliver benefits for local communities and wider society, in line with Scotland’s Just Transition principles and land reform objectives.

 

The Fellowship

Objective

The aim of the Fellowship is to undertake research and evidence collation and analysis to produce a report that sets out a framework for assigning costs for delivering key actions from the Scottish Biodiversity Strategy Delivery Plan. Outputs will identify costs in key areas of activity and inform options on how to most effectively fund and finance delivering the targets and outcomes set out in the Scottish Biodiversity Strategy delivery plan and the Natural Environment Bill . This could help inform for example, where public finance is most needed, or where markets could be scaled up to accelerate progress towards the SBS targets.

Output

The output will be a report to be used as evidence to inform the Biodiversity Investment Plan (and related policy areas) and to help Scottish Government identify the costs for key actions within the SBS Delivery Plan, effectively designing, targeting, and mobilising funding and finance to better support biodiversity outcomes.

Scope

The scope of the task includes estimating the costs of delivering a subset of key actions from the Biodiversity Strategy Delivery Plan based on a combination of existing evidence (e.g. using available policy delivery costings from the Climate Change Plan for peatland restoration, agricultural reform, etc.) and the development of unit cost estimates (e.g. developing unit cost estimates for specific key actions including deer management, species interventions, woodland restoration etc.). The task also includes the relative extent to which these actions will be required to be delivered within the SBS delivery plan timescales. It is proposed that the fellowship selects/focuses on land-based activities and on actions that are likely to have the most direct impact on addressing biodiversity loss.

The research should flag areas where double counting, or the risk of ‘double-paying’ for the same / similar outcomes (which relates to concepts like ‘additionality’ and ‘stacking’ in natural capital markets), occur.

Approach and Methodology

The successful applicant will work in collaboration with the Scottish Government to develop a detailed methodology and agree the work plan. This will include an initial roundtable discussion with key policy and RESAS staff to identify potential synergies with related policy areas (e.g. agriculture, climate change) and wider related work. The key focus of this proposed work will be to estimate the costs of delivering selected key actions within the SBS Delivery Plan. This is envisaged as incorporating several key steps, the key elements of which will include:

  1. Reviewing actions within the draft SBS Delivery Plan and identifying a subset of key actions (and the underlying policies/delivery mechanisms), with the aim of prioritising a set of tangible, land-based actions (or on a subset of ecosystems) which are likely to have the greatest potential for addressing biodiversity loss (e.g. habitat creation and restoration, removal of invasive species, species specific measures etc.). The existing logic models used for developing the SBS Delivery Plan provide a basis for prioritising actions based on their likely impact on biodiversity loss and for grouping selected actions by outcomes and/or in relation to ecosystem type.
  2. Developing delivery cost estimates for the selected actions using a combination of:  i) existing and/or emerging costs data (e.g. existing costs data from appraisal of relevant Climate Change Plan actions such as peatland restoration, agricultural reform etc.); and ii) where data gaps exist, developing unit cost estimates (e.g. £/ha) for key activities, in addition to estimating the required amount of activity required within the delivery plan timescales, particularly where the level of financial investment is likely to be greatest.
  3. Incorporating collaborative/expert driven aspects, potentially through the development of an advisory group (of Scottish Government, NatureScot and wider agency/academic experts etc.) and a workshops component within the research design to facilitate expert input to both the prioritisation (and grouping) of actions for costing and the developed of cost estimates for key actions of groups of actions.
  4. Produce a report setting out a framework for assigning costs of delivering key SBS Delivery Plan actions (using existing costs data and unit cost estimates) in addition to identifying existing evidence gaps for costing actions. In addition to identifying key costs, this should also help support identifying budget gaps, overlaps and synergies between actions/interventions, ecosystems and SBS outcomes.

The prospective Fellows are encouraged to discuss the scope, including any risks, barriers and how these can be overcome for delivery and build on the above approach in their application, highlighting relevant skills or experience that would add particular value to the suggested approach.  

 

The Fellow

The Fellow will require:

  • A strong understanding of environmental, agricultural and economic policies and preferably skills/experience in ecological economics/applied economics.   
  • Extensive experience in sourcing, and systematically reviewing, credible evidence and options, including economic data/information and/or experience of policy appraisal.
  • Project management and stakeholder engagement experience.  
  • A motivation to gain further experience of working closely with Scottish Government producers of policy analysis and official statistics.

The Fellow needs to be a staff member of one of SEFARI Institutes, Centres of Expertise or UK Higher Education Institutes.

 

Practicalities

The details of the final Fellowship work plan will be developed, and agreed, between the Fellow(s) and a management team from SEFARI and the Scottish Government. There is a maximum of 50 days available for project delivery over a period of six months – the exact number of days, their timing, and their pattern through the working week will be discussed. Due to the Fellowship’s scale and interdisciplinary nature, we are open to proposals from individuals and groups.

Funding will be available to cover salary costs and any travel/subsistence. Please note that costs should be submitted net of VAT recovered by the applicant. Applicants should seek advice on appropriate VAT treatment of proposed funding. A Fellowship Support Team, composed of SEFARI Gateway, Strategic Portfolio and the Scottish Government, will assist with links and access to data, information, and research; guide data collection, analysis and presentation; ethical issues; identifying networks for sharing research findings; shaping and informing commissioned work, and feedback on emerging findings.

The deadline for applications is 5pm on the 25th of August 2023 with interviews to be held within two weeks following from that date.

If you have any questions on this, or any general aspect of the SEFARI Fellowship scheme, please contact Michelle Wilson Chalmers, Manager, SEFARI Gateway at: michelle.wilson@sefari.scot

 

Details

  • Applicants must have the support of their organisation (whether SEFARIs, Centres of Expertise, or Higher Education Institutes).
  • Sign-off should be at the level deemed appropriate for each organisation (please talk to your line manager), but Directors/Chief Executives of your Institute should be made aware.
  • The taking up of such an opportunity should not result in a candidate going beyond the end of any agreed contract they may have with their employer.
  • It is recognised that individual circumstances are different and support levels will vary depending on salary, distance from the opportunity and so on – the support level will be kept under review to try and maintain a fair and equitable competition and process. The Institute/portfolio-organisation/HEI of the successful fellow(s) should not expect to meet any costs beyond that paid for by SEFARI Gateway.
  • The successful candidate(s) will be expected to contribute to relevant meetings or outputs for the project partners as the Fellowship progresses and to generate knowledge exchange related content for SEFARI Gateway (support will be offered on this).
  • A written report and an online Case Study are required by SEFARI Gateway at the end of the Fellowship.

 

Applications

Applications should be made to: info@sefari.scot and should include a cover letter (two pages of detail on your suitability or that of the team) and a two-page CV (or up to 6 pages for a team). Decisions on who to Interview will be based solely on this letter and CV.

The cover letter should include:

  • Why you are interested in this opportunity and what you would hope to get from it?
  • What skills and experience you would bring to this role;
  • How you would use your current work to underpin the project;
  • What you would do to take the learning back into your organisation.

Team-based applications should demonstrate how they propose to manage individual contributions to satisfy the degree of multi-disciplinary integration required.

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