IT may still be eight months away but thoughts are already turning to November when COP26 lands in Glasgow.

Being at the heart of the drive to develop and deliver green energy solutions is, perhaps, a bigger and longer term economic opportunity for the Aberdeen city region than when oil was discovered in the North Sea in the ‘60s and the area secured first mover advantage as the operations hub.

The collective expertise, innovation and skills across operators, supply chain, universities and other partners mean we are well placed to repeat this now – we have the momentum. And why not this time make sure we get a larger slice of the research and development pie too, as much of this work in oil and gas took place elsewhere.

Now that funding has been secured from UK and Scottish Governments, we must ensure that nothing stops the development of the Energy Transition Zone. And it’s also vital that the North Sea Transition Deal is delivered at pace.

As important as cash support is the clear message that the North-east of Scotland is viewed by government as a global clean energy hub. To succeed we need to get our narrative straight and amplify the message that Europe’s oil and gas capital is not the root of the climate change problem but very much at the heart of the solution.

But the energy transition is not the only issue on the horizon. Cities are a finely balanced ecosystem of retail, culture, hospitality, residential and offices with people at their heart. If any of them are out of balance then the others are likely to fail. Changing retail habits were already threatening this and Covid restrictions have exacerbated the situation.

So to have confirmation of a refreshed city centre masterplan with an extended footprint is really positive news as we take the urgent action needed to recover from this setback.

It is great to see Aberdeen City Council take the lead but bold initiatives like this can only succeed with the public and private sectors working in partnership. The Chamber looks forward to supporting the development of the updated plan, as it did in phase one which has resulted in a number of hugely exciting additions to our city centre.

Current policy seems to be indicating a shift to ‘20-minute neighbourhoods’ but this must not be at the expense of our cities. The Chambers of Commerce in Aberdeen, Glasgow and Edinburgh are working with partners to publish Urban AGE II, a report designed to demonstrate the pivotal role our three major cities will play in Scotland’s economic recovery and the support and conditions they will need to succeed.

And then there’s the post-Covid recovery. We need to make sure we are on the starting line if we are to compete in what will be a highly fierce competition between places to secure the conditions, investment and skills that will drive recovery and growth post- Covid.

Some of the key actions we need to take include having a strong suite of compelling investor-ready projects.

We must lobby for government policy and funding that reflects our region is not seeking handouts but has a strong track record of returning handsomely on investment made here.

We must also quickly rebuild momentum behind the wider regional economic and sector diversification strategies.

And finally, there’s self-help. It’s important that we learn lessons from the last year but avoid self-fulfilling prophecies arising from the notion that everything we did before March 2020 was bad.

Russell Borthwick is chief executive of Aberdeen & Grampian Chamber of Commerce