Derek Jarvie, Environmental and Sustainability Manager

Tell us a little about your job

My role is wide and varied; I can be working with contractors installing LED lighting or surveying a cabling duct one day to preparing a climate emergency briefing note or delivering a presentation for senior management the next.

My main focus just now is getting NHS Forth Valley’s climate emergency response on track. The Scottish Government has placed a lot of responsibility on the public sector to lead by example in addressing the climate emergency, and despite the challenges faced by the NHS in dealing with the Covid-19 pandemic, NHS Scotland has a key role to play. Recently we have restructured the governance, reporting and operational arrangements around the climate emergency and sustainability agenda and are now looking to scale up our efforts to minimise impacts.

We need to remember that a climate emergency is a healthcare emergency, and the recent heatwave is a clear example of how the healthcare service will be impacted by climate change. However, it is also worth noting that many of the benefits of climate change mitigation will have health and wellbeing benefits. The shift away from fossil fuels to clean energy, well designed cities that focus on maximising greenspace, active travel and protecting biodiversity and healthy and sustainable diets will all deliver wider public health benefits.

What sparked your enthusiasm for all things green?

I was motivated to switch careers in 1999 after 20 years in the motor industry and became an environmental professional. I was not content with what humans are doing to the planet and wanted to be involved in the drive for change. The key driver for me is the scale of the challenge that we are leaving future generations to overcome. My motivation remains the same, but thankfully the pace of change in terms addressing the climate emergency is significantly greater now that it was then.

How do you convince people about the importance of saving energy and climate change?

On a positive note, I think it is easier now than it has ever been to get people to embrace sustainability. Most people these days are aware of the issues and challenges and very keen to make a difference. The challenge in many areas these days is dealing with frustration when the organisation is not moving as quickly as people would like to see, or we are failing to communicate what has been done.

What has been your previous work experience?

I left school at 16 and started an apprenticeship in the motor industry, where I spent 20 years. I then made the decision to return to education as a mature student and have spent the last 20 years as an environmental professional.

Is there any historical character you would have liked to be friends with and why?

Henry Ford – it takes an inspirational man to come up with quotes such as:

“The whole secret of a successful life is to find out what is one’s destiny to do, and then do it.”

“Don’t find fault, find remedy.”

“The only real mistake is one from which we learn nothing.”

Favourite film or TV show?

Sad as it may be, I spend a lot of time watching car stuff on TV – blokes driving, fixing and talking about cars. I also enjoy the Big Bang Theory.

How do you spend your spare time?

With grandsons aged 6 and 2 how I spend my spare time is very much decided for me. They are full on but great fun. I was also recently ‘gifted’ a new dog who takes up the rest of my spare time – Frank the Puggle.

How would you spend one million pounds?

Not sure I would have much say in how it would be spent – the big boss (Mrs Jarvie) would take care of that little problem.

Sporty or bookish?

Bit of both, I do try to keep fit (or slow the sideways spread!) by cycling and running but also enjoy reading – I can’t imagine life without a kindle!

Best laugh or funny moment?

I took my son to A&E to have a head wound stitched and ended up on a stretcher next to him after fainting…I don’t deal well with blood and needles! The staff in A&E were not impressed but looked after both of us.

Worst situation you have found yourself in?

Possibly not the worst, but certainly the scariest was when my daughter was rushed to theatre for an emergency caesarean. Mother and grandson came through unscathed thanks to the wonderful people in the NHS, but it was not a nice moment.

What would you tell your 16-year-old self?

Exactly what my Mum told me at 14, 15 and16: stick in at school!! Proud as she was with the outcome, I’m sure she must’ve had a wee laugh to herself when I announced I was returning to ‘school’ in my late 30s!

What keeps you awake at night?

My workload! Juggling plates and trying to keep things moving forward.