On the 27 January 2021, the official launch day for SoNaRR2020, Chief Executive of Natural Resources Wales, Clare Pillman, shared her thoughts on SoNaRR2020, and the pathway to a sustainable future for Wales.
“Wales’s natural environment is our most precious inheritance, pivotal to our identity as a nation and, as has come into sharp focus over the last year, central to the health and well-being of our people and our economy.
“Protecting the environment for future generations is one of the greatest challenges of our time. As we look towards taking a greener pathway out of the global Covid-19 pandemic, we must also seize the opportunity to re-imagine how we use our natural assets to address the dual threats from the climate and nature emergencies.
“Today, we officially launch the second State of Natural Resources Report (SoNaRR2020) – a milestone publication which aims to inform the steps we and government must take in our endeavour to defend our environment in Wales. It illustrates some of the key challenges, priorities and opportunities for the sustainable management of natural resources (SMNR) and has at its heart the ambition to bridge the gap between where we currently are and where we need to be.
“SoNaRR2020 includes the traditional registers summarising the pressures, impacts and our assessment of different ecosystems – from our seas to our mountains and from farmland to urban areas.
“But it also goes much further than that.
“It also explains how the well-being of both people and planet are intertwined, setting out how Wales could deliver environmental change through transforming the systems we all use to support our lifestyles. It suggests that redesigning the energy, transport and food systems could help society to live within its environmental capacity and address the pressures causing the nature and climate emergencies we all face.
“If we take one of these systems as an example, we can explain how we can use the evidence in the report on all levels of decision-making. We can re-assess our own individual actions; organisations can reflect on how to make pro-environmental behaviours the easiest choice, and government can make large scale changes through policy.
Transforming the transport system
“Transport is the third largest source of greenhouse gas emissions in Wales, and how we transport ourselves and our goods contributes to carbon emissions, air, water and noise pollution. But beyond that it also contributes to biodiversity loss through invasive non-native species entering in the ballast water of ships for example.
“And this is just the environmental impact – there are also social and economic impacts associated with congestion and lack of transport opportunities as well.
“SoNaRR2020 identifies what Wales is doing now – and what we should be doing in the future.
“Electrification of trains and road transport is beginning to reduce emissions, as are increases in active travel modes such as walking or cycling to work. Increasing the uptake of Ultra Low Emissions Vehicles and using low carbon technologies should help achieve significant reductions in transport emissions in the next decade. And digital technology could bring about radical changes in the volume of transport we currently see on our roads today.
“But it is clear that technological innovations alone, will not deliver the pace and scale of change needed to address the transport system’s impacts on the environment and people’s health. We need to think about how we all live, how we consider using other forms of transport and how we might reduce the need to travel.
“The Covid-19 pandemic has shown that major societal changes can be achieved – be it how we communicate with one another, how we commute to work, the way we have come to appreciate the outdoors from our doorsteps or how we shop.
“Yet no one organisation can achieve the sustainable management of natural resources alone.
“We need to use this report as a springboard to launch this important discussion, to engage with people and work together, so that we can all play our part in improving the resilience of our environment, natural resources and ecosystems, so that they can continue to support our well-being for generations to come.
“SoNaRR2020 comes at a critical time of challenge and change, on many fronts.
”Wales has made significant progress in response to the global climate emergency and enhancing the natural environment. However, there is still much to do; Wales is not yet meeting the four long-term aims of sustainable management of natural resources, and it is vital that future policy decisions are rooted in this evidence.
“As a society, we need to get this right. We owe it to the next generation.”