Scotland’s seas cover nearly six times its land area and approximately 63% of the total UK Exclusive Economic Zone (EEZ) (Scottish Government, 2022). They also support several sectors crucial to Scotland’s economy, from oil and gas and aquaculture to fishing and marine tourism, collectively forming what is known as the “marine economy”.

The impacts of climate change on Scotland’s seas are expected to become more frequent and severe over the coming decades: Warming seas, reduced oxygen, ocean acidification and sea level rise are already affecting ecosystems in the North Sea, adding pressure to historically overexploited fish populations, and exacerbating invasive species and disease spread in aquaculture.

This research reviews climate vulnerability assessments (CVAs) of natural and socio-economic marine systems in Scotland and internationally to:

  1. identify focus, spatial scale and gaps in CVAs relevant to Scotland;
  2. identify examples of CVAs methodologies used internationally, including the strengths and weaknesses of these methodologies; and
  3. suggest how to strengthen vulnerability assessments of the marine environment and marine economy in Scotland.
Key findings and recommendations

Our review found that Scotland already has many of the foundations in place to conduct a full CVA for its marine environment.  It is also evident that the strengths and weaknesses of Scottish marine CVA literature are similar to those which exist internationally.

Addressing the identified gaps requires an understanding of the effects of climate change across the range of sectors that are relevant to the marine economy.

To strengthen CVAs for the marine environment in Scotland the report proposes to:

  • engage with experts and stakeholders in Scotland, starting with those in MCCIP and those engaged in the UKCCRA process to facilitate a cross-sectoral discussion of climate vulnerability in Scotland’s marine environment;
  • identify priority sectors where additional research is needed and those deemed important for Scotland’s marine environment in order to gain a complete picture of climate vulnerability in the marine environment in Scotland;
  • identify robust studies included in this review which would potentially benefit from being updated and develop a plan for funding priority research activities; and
  • draw from robust sources such as those identified through this study to expand on the existing CVA work in Scotland.


’20 minute neighbourhoods’ are places that are designed so residents can meet their day-to-day needs within a 20 minute walk of their home; through access to safe walking and cycling routes, or by public transport.

Many places around the world have made commitments or drawn up plans to support the realisation of the concept. However, only a few  have made 20 minute neighbourhoods a reality.

The Programme for Government 2020 commits the Scottish Government to working with local government and other partners to take forward ambitions for 20 minute neighbourhoods in Scotland.

This project:

  • considers the ambition for 20 minute neighbourhoods in Scotland, taking account of the differing settlement patterns across the country, and to highlight interventions that would support delivery of the concept, supported by findings from the baseline analysis; and
  • analyses international evidence of the success of interventions to achieve these ambitions, including identifying specific success factors, place-making impacts, barriers to success, regulatory frameworks, funding mechanisms and stakeholder engagement and buy-in.
Key findings

A baseline assessment shows that communities across Scotland have the required services and infrastructure that would allow them to be 20 minute neighbourhoods. This is the case across both urban and rural settlement areas. 

However, the assessment does not allow for the conclusion that the required quality of services or infrastructure is in place. Nor does it conclude that these places are performing as 20 minute neighbourhoods.

From the examples reviewed it is evident that a clear plan with bespoke local considerations is needed to achieve the vision. It is also clear that this plan must be people-centred and developed with the stakeholders in the community.

The report sets out five initial ambitions for developing 20 minute neighbourhoods in Scotland:

  1. Scotland has the opportunity to be a global leader in delivering this concept across the country, showing that it is feasible in both urban and rural locations
  2. Every neighbourhood in Scotland should be facilitated to be a 20 minute neighbourhood
  3. Communities should be empowered to make changes in their neighbourhoods to allow them to meet their daily needs in a fair and equitable way
  4. This concept should enable people to travel actively in support of their health and well-being, without access being limited by the cost of transport
  5. The 20 minute neighbourhood concept should be the ambition that pulls together all other relevant policies in a given location

These ambitions can only be realised through concerted efforts across policy, national and local delivery, and further research.

Webinar: 20-minute neighbourhoods: climate, travel and health benefits

Watch a webinar with speakers from Ramboll, Transport Scotland, Public Health Scotland & Scottish Government discussing the climate, travel & health benefits of 20-minute neighbourhoods:

Watch webinar