There is just one week to go until The Herald and Scotland’s Innovation Centres come together for Scotland’s Countdown to COP26 online conference.

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

The event marks one year until COP26, the UN climate change conference that will take place in Glasgow in 2021. It will be first time a COP summit has met in the UK and will be the one of the largest events Scotland has ever hosted, so the eyes of the world will be on us.

The online event is packed with plenary speakers, themed parallel sessions, presentations, panel discussions, Q&As, networking, and virtual exhibitions.

Chaired by Dr Martin Valenti, Head of Climate Enterprise, Scottish Enterprise, he is joined by an array of expert speakers throughout the morning.

These include Kersti Berge, Director of Energy and Climate Change, Scottish Government, who will be discussing COP26 opportunities for Scotland; in depth conversation with Glasgow City Council Leader, Susan Aitken; Kate Raworth, economist and author of Doughnut Economics, who will look at doughnut opportunity for Scotland’s cities and Peter Lacy, Chief Responsibility Officer and Global Sustainability Services Lead, Accenture, who will discuss circular economy opportunities for Scotland.


Dr Valenti will also be joined by Ian Marchant, CEO, Dunelm Energy, former CEO of SSE and Chairman of Scotland’s 2020 Climate Group for The Grand Challenge – proposition.

The themed sessions which will run parallel and are hosted by each of Scotland’s Innovation Centres will focus on built environment, energy, health and wellbeing, sustainable industrial processes, sustainable food from land and sea and transport.

Mark Bustard, CEO of IBioIC, who joins the afternoon panel discussion, chaired by Dr Poonam Malik, has said: “The level of interest in Scotland’s Countdown to COP26 has been highly encouraging.

“There is still time for anyone with an interest in making a positive contribution to the fight against climate change to sign up and take part on the day, as we look to turn discussion and debate into concrete plans in the months ahead.”

Joining Mr Bustard is Heather Jones, CEO of SAIC, who added: “With more than 1,600 people signed up for Scotland’s Countdown to COP26, the online conference will bring together people from a diverse array of backgrounds to discuss the greatest challenge of our time. We are very much looking forward to what will be an incredible opportunity to take positive action ahead of next year’s pivotal event in Glasgow.”

Ms Jones and Mr Bustard will also be joined by each of the CEOs of Scotland’s Innovation Centres.

In the afternoon session Dr Poonam Malik will host a panel discussion with all seven CEOs of Scotland’s Innovation Centres.

Dr Poonam Malik, Scottish Enterprise board member, board consultant, social entrepreneur and investor, said: “Scotland’s Countdown to COP26 is an engagement day for businesses, entrepreneurs and citizens to turn discussions around climate change from policy into practical actions.

“We all share a national ambition to achieve net-zero goals by 2045 and collaboration with cross-disciplinary innovations is critical for achieving that.

“It is crucial that we start that dialogue now, to take definitive sustainable steps towards accomplishing that aim.”

With more than 1,600 delegates now registered to attend, the online event will provide plenty of opportunity to network, learn and offer some healthy debate amongst panel discussions and live Q&As.

Opportunities exist to learn lessons from Covid-19 and take action to create a prosperous, safer, and greener world. Doing nothing is not an option: emission reductions witnessed in 2020 may just as easily rebound unless longer-term actions are established to bring lasting change.

There is still time to register your place to join the event on Tuesday, November 3 from 9.30am-5pm, to view the full agenda and register visit

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