A plan to create a fairer, greener and flourishing South of Scotland has been launched.
The first ever South of Scotland Regional Economic Strategy has been shaped by a series of consultations through which over 1,400 voices were heard – including those of 300 young people – from all parts of the region.
The 10-year vision is the work of the South of Scotland Regional Economic Partnership (REP), which is made up of representatives from a wide range of organisations, sectors and groups who are based in, or work across the region.
The strategy seeks to draw a renewed focus on the region’s exceptional quality of life and natural environment, to attract a new generation of people to live, work, learn, visit and invest in the South of Scotland.
Following the latest consultation this summer, the final strategy has been amended to place a greater emphasis on the importance of the South of Scotland’s Just Transition to NetZero – which means ensuring that as we reduce our emissions, the journey is fair and creates a better future for everyone.
Recognition of the importance of issues such as sustainable travel, reducing deprivation and poverty, retaining wealth locally and increasing the region’s global reputation have also been strengthened.
To realise the region’s overall ambition, the RES has six priority themes:
- Skilled and Ambitious People
- Innovative and Enterprising
- Rewarding and Fair Work
- Cultural and Creative Excellence
- Green and Sustainable Economy
- Thriving and Distinct Communities
For each of the themes, a series of focussed actions are now being developed as part of an accompanying delivery plan by the REP, which is to be published later in the year.
The REP first met virtually in September 2020 and agreed that its immediate focus needed to be the development of a South of Scotland-wide economic strategy. The development of the RES has been driven forward by REP members who endorsed the strategy at their meeting earlier this month.
The strategy has also been shaped by analysis and evidence, alongside the extensive engagement which had a strong focus on capturing the voice of young people. This is reflected in the video created to help launch the strategy, which is narrated by one of two modern apprentices working on the REP.
Having been approved by Dumfries and Galloway and Scottish Borders councils as well as South of Scotland Enterprise earlier this month, the final South of Scotland Regional Economic Strategy is now available to view at www.southofscotlandrep.com.
Chair of the REP and Scottish Borders Council’s Executive Member for Economic Regeneration and Finance, Councillor Mark Rowley said:
“This strategy is a great piece of work, shaped by more than 1,400 individuals, businesses and organisations from across the South of Scotland and provides a renewed focus on a range of critical issues and opportunities for the region.
“With a final strategy now agreed, we have a really firm footing to open up and expand on existing discussions with a wide range of national partners and organisations and challenge them about how they can respond to the agreed priorities of the south of Scotland.
“Clearly we also need to take joined-up action within the South of Scotland to move the region forward, and again this strategy provides us with a real focus for all the partners in that respect.”
Depute Leader of Dumfries and Galloway Council, and joint chair of the REP, Councillor Rob Davidson, added:
“The Regional Economic Strategy is a significant opportunity for the South of Scotland and I am delighted that our Council has endorsed it.
“Our focus has always been to create a strategy that endures for the long term and brings a fresh and place-based approach responsive to the South’s circumstances.
“A huge amount of work has gone into developing this important document and I am grateful to everyone who has worked on it, contributed to it or taken part in our engagement sessions.”
Chair of South of Scotland Enterprise (SOSE), Professor Russel Griggs OBE said:
“After a year of significant work by the REP, and extensive engagement with the people of the South, we now have a strategy to be proud of.
“It aims to help the South of Scotland be a region of opportunity and innovation, where our rich and abundant natural capital drives green growth, with the region’s ambition and quality of life unmatched.
“This is a strategy for the next 10 years, which is why it was so important we engaged with young people and let them help shape their future.”