2 June 2021 / Interview
Staycation with Aegon’s Georgina Laird: Scottish beaches, solar panels and switching off
By Georgina Laird, sustainable investment analyst, Aegon Asset Management,
Aegon AM's sustainable investment analyst shares her campervan adventures around Scotland's shoreline
In this new series, members of the responsible investment industry share their staycations and sustainable holiday activities with ESG Clarity readers.
Following our popular Working from Home with… and A Sustainable Xmas with… series on the back of the Covid-19 pandemic, we wanted to find out how holiday plans have changed – and become more environmentally and socially friendly – in a year where travel abroad is looking challenging.
Here, Georgina Laird, sustainable investment analyst at Aegon Asset Management, shares her campervan adventures around Scotland’s beautiful beaches.
Where are you holidaying this year and with whom? How will you travel there?
I will be holidaying with my fiancé Aidan in our new campervan. We are planning to travel around Scotland and hopefully visit Wales at some point this year. We recently spent a very relaxing week on the Isle of Mull, although our little puppy Jack Russell, Murphy, kept us on our toes!
How does this differ from your ‘usual’ holidays?
We recently spent a couple of years in Asia and Australia, so it is safe to say the temperature was slightly different… but the beaches on the West Coast of Scotland are still some of the most beautiful we have seen. It might not be the warmest, but that often means you get them all to yourself.
It has been a very tough year. How will this holiday help you reset and refresh?
Switching off for a good amount of time each year is so important, and the poor phone signal on Mull saw to that! Lots of walks, yoga and a good book was just the ticket.
How will you ensure your holiday is environmentally friendly?
By avoiding air travel, first and foremost. We also have solar panels on the van, so we are pretty self-sufficient. It allows us to wild camp when civilisation gets too much!
Share some (sustainable) activities you have planned for your staycation?
It was great to explore the coast of Mull on foot, finding new beaches along the way. There was even some swimming when we felt brave enough! We also visited the Isle of Iona, a magical little island with a rich history.
And of course, lots of local cuisine with the odd local whisky.
What’s your holiday reading?
Where the Crawdads Sing by Delia Owens, it was recommended by the book club at Aegon Asset Management. A fantastic storyline and a beautifully written book, with poetry and vivid descriptions of nature. Perfect for a week away in the wilderness!
What’s the verdict? Do you think you will be staycationing more in the future? Or are you looking forward to travelling abroad?
Having been away for a couple of years I am looking forward to exploring Scotland once more. It’s always been a dream of ours to get a campervan, and there was never a better time to do so.
The uncertainty around international travel is encouraging many of us to look closer to home for our holidays, a real positive we can draw from this situation. The UK holds a bounty of stunning places to explore. We are very lucky and we know it, just a few hours’ drive from Edinburgh and it feels like a different land.
How do you think the Covid-19 pandemic will impact business travel long term?
For the sake of the climate, there has been a need to rethink business travel for some time. Covid-19 has forced us to, and I think that the smooth transition of working from home has been remarkable. Companies have demonstrated to staff that what doesn’t seem possible is. We’ve welcomed our home life into the office – children, pets, in some ways we have gotten to know each other better.
However, there remains many aspects of business, and indeed our mental health, that benefit from meeting in real life with our colleagues. I think companies will recognise the benefits in striking a balance with a hybrid workplace model in the future.
What’s on your radar for the ESG investment industry for the rest of the year?
We think each year will be the most significant yet in responsible investing, then the next year comes! Developments in the regulatory space are high on the agenda. With those come an array of new terms and processes. As an industry, it is important that we ensure our clients have the information they need to understand and engage in responsible investing.
The biodiversity crisis is becoming a key thematic across responsible investing. We’ve known for some time about the links between climate change and biodiversity, but it has never quite received the same public attention or urgency as the climate movement. Incorporating biodiversity risks and opportunities into investment frameworks will be key to solving the challenge.
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Staycation with Schroders’ Claire Herbert: Travel by foot, seal watching and ‘exotic’ locations
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