Innovation and collaboration will help build a sustainable future for Scotland

SHARING ideas and exploring the many paths leading towards a more sustainable future will become increasingly urgent as the world wakes up to the fact that climate change is real – and that collaboration and co-operation are required to tackle it.

The urgency of the crisis will come under a forensic microscope at next month’s Countdown to COP26 conference, organised by The Herald and Scotland’s Innovation Centres.

This ambitious online event, attracting notable speakers and experts from across business and industry, will explore innovation, inclusive growth, cultural change around climate action, and ultimately how collaboration could achieve national net-zero targets.

One of the most important messages this country has to convey to the world’s green movement is that addressing climate change is not just a moral and political imperative, but that it offers economic opportunities too.

Ahead of COP26 – the UN climate conference taking place in Glasgow in November 2021 – the challenge for Scottish businesses and organisations of all types and sizes is to seize the opportunity to move the debate forward in the 12 months leading up to the high-profile event when the eyes of the world will be watching.

Scotland’s Countdown to COP26 will be a timely starting point for a year of debate and activities that aim to create and deliver transformational collaboration and climate change programmes across multiple sectors within Scotland and beyond.

Chaired by Martin Valenti of Scottish Enterprise, the free-to-attend conference will hear from a range of inspiring speakers – led by Economist and Author of Doughnut Economics Kate Raworth and Peter Lacy, Europe Lead for Accenture Strategy – supported by themed sessions, presentations, panel discussions, Q&As, networking, and virtual exhibitions. Each will explore the many opportunities COP26 will present for Scotland to take action and create a prosperous and greener world.

It is being delivered by CENSIS (Scotland’s Innovation Centre for sensing, imaging and Internet of Things (IoT) technologies), Innovation Centres: CSIC (construction), The Data Lab (data science), DHI (digital health and care), IBioIC (industrial biotechnology), PMS (precision medicine), and SAIC (aquaculture).

Paul Winstanley, chief executive of CENSIS, commented: “The eyes of the world will be on Scotland when COP26 arrives next year – and with that comes a responsibility to be at the forefront of meaningful conversations and seize the opportunity to take action. Climate change is an urgent problem and it is already having an impact in Scotland and beyond, through rising temperatures and record-breaking weather conditions.

“Put simply, doing nothing is no longer an option: together, we must make significant changes to our relationship with the planet and innovation must be at the heart of Scotland’s response. We plan to kick off the discussion at our Countdown to COP26 event, which will spark conversations and, more importantly, challenge everyone in Scotland to take action and bring about positive change that can have a global impact.

“The online conference will explore innovation, inclusive growth, cultural change around climate action, and how collaboration could help achieve national net-zero targets.

“Encouraging the development and use of new technologies to tackle these challenges will be more important than ever, and it requires significant collaboration across all parts of society.

“In the wake of Covid-19 there is a real opportunity to make changes and put green issues higher up the agenda, supporting a sustainable recovery from the crisis.”

Martin Valenti, head of climate enterprise at Scottish Enterprise, said: “Scotland’s Countdown to COP26 is our opportunity to begin a national conversation about how we can contribute to the biggest challenge of our time.

“In just over a year, the eyes of the world will be on Scotland and it is up to us to spend the next 12 months shaping that discussion and taking positive action, with this conference acting as the catalyst.”

Be part of the conversation, take up the challenge and join over 700 delegates registered so far. Subscribe to Scotland’s Countdown to COP26 at: The free event takes place on Tuesday, November 3, 2020, and will be accessible online – events/cop26/.